Mixed Greens And Lentil Stir Fry/ Swiss Chard, Collard Greens & Thuvar Daal Stir Fry (Thoran)

 Last week sunshine was in its brim and we enjoyed every bit of it.  This week seems to be sober and dull.. the days are getting shorter, but the nights never seems to be long enough especially when you are an early bird for work.  Fall colors are popping out every where and within few weeks the sunshine is going to fade and darkness is going to take over.  That sounds pretty scary and gloomy right?  I didn't mean to...but that's how I feel now :(.

Fall season is best for greens like collards, Swiss chard, kale etc.  They grew at their peak and produce sweet flavorful leaves.  With the same notion of using these leaves in my cooking, I planted green Swiss chard and collard greens in my garden beginning of summer.  They are really worth a try if you have a small space to spare some gardening in your backyard.  These green foliage not only brings enticing colors to your garden but also makes good nutritional dishes.

 I remember my first experience with Swiss chard, it was a bit awful.  Ok let me share it with you....It was few years ago... I went to this grocery store near my house and they have a huge section for fresh produce especially the leafy section and I literally got stuck there perplexed by what to pick because the mist sprayed crisp fresh leaves were so impelling.  Got my eyes on these red stemmed leaves and quickly picked up one bunch and I had already a plan to make stir fry.  Came home and put on my apron, started cutting, chopping and what not and made the stir fry.  I even bragged to my husband that I got the red spinach (Indian spinach) and it was crisp fresh and so on.  Long story short...something went wrong, may be the red chard was not meant for a stir fry and I end up with a hard leafy dish that made its way to trash after sitting in the refrigerator after one day :(.  I would say I became more cautious about trying the greens after that.  I make use of these collard greens and swiss chard from my summer garden and they are very delicious.  Green chard is very succulent and when paired with collard greens which has a hard texture compared to chard makes a perfect stir fry.

Here are some health benefits of Swiss Chard and Collard greens:

  • Studies shows that chard leaves contain at least 13 different polyphenol antioxidants. These phytonutrients provide antioxidant benefits, anti-inflammatory benefits and blood sugar regulations.
  • Collard greens has the greatest ability of lowering cholesterol among the cruciferous vegetables and thus provides cardiovarscular benefits.  The glucosinolates found in Collard greens helps to lower the risk of cancer by supporting our detox and anti-inflammatory systems.  These green leaves are excellent source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin E and they provide us with 4 core conventional antioxidants.

1/4 cup - Thuvar daal
1/2 cup - water
1/4 tsp - salt
2 cups - chopped green swiss chard
2 cups - chopped collard greens
1 - medium size onion chopped
1 - clove garlic
3 - green chili chopped
1/2 cup - grated coconut
1/4 tsp - turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp - oil
salt to taste

1/4 tsp - mustard seeds
1/2 tsp - urad daal
1/2 tsp - uncooked rice
1 tsp - pearl onions/shallots thinly sliced
1 - dry chili split into pieces
1 sprig - curry leaves
1 tbsp - oil

  • In a sauce pan cook 1/4 cup of thuvar daal with 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 tsp salt till well cooked, but retains its shape.  It takes approximately 20 minutes on low - medum heat.  Keep the cooked daal aside.
  • Mix the grated coconut and turmeric powder together in a bowl. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic.  Add grated coconut and crush well.
  • In a cast iron or non stick pan, heat 1 1/2 tsp oil and cook the onions, green chili with salt till golden brown.  Add chopped greens to the pan and stir well.  Make a deep well in the middle of the green and add the crushed coconut & garlic mix and cooked thuvar daal to it.  Cover the coconut mix with the greens so that the coconut and garlic cooks in the steam for 2-3 minutes.  Use a lid. 
  • Open the lid.  Adjust the salt and mix the greens and coconut well till everything gets mixed evenly.  It should not take more than 5 minutes to cook the stir fry.  Remove from pan and transfer to a serving bowl.
  • In a small pan over low heat, splutter 1/4 tsp of mustard seeds in 1 tbsp of oil.  Add the urad dal, followed by rice.  Once the rice starts to puff up, add the thinly sliced shallots and red chili and cook till golden brown.  Turn off the heat and add the curry leaves carefully.
  • Garnish the stir fry with the tadka and serve the thoran with steaming plain rice and yogurt.
  • Swiss chard cooks faster than collard green, so make sure that the collard greens stem is chopped finely to allow even cooking.  If necessary add 1 tsp of water to keep the stir fry moist.  But usually Swiss chard is very succulent and you don't need any water if cooked over low heat.
  • When making the tadka, use the low flame, otherwise the urad daal and rice can get burned.
  • Garnish the stir fry just before serving, otherwise the puffed rice will get soggy.  Don't skip the rice, it gives a nice crunch to the stir fry.

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