Persian Rice with Chard

Thanksgiving was a snowy and icy day. Remembering how we were stuck on a bus for four hours last Christmas Day, we decided to cancel going to visit Sadananda's sister for a family gathering, much as we were looking forward to it. As a result, I had to improvise a Thanksgiving meal for two--using what we happened to have. We had a basket of chard we harvested before the freeze, leading me to make this delicious recipe, vegetarian and gluten free. Serve with Persian Winter Squash Soup. Ideally, serve tourshi along with Persian food.

For a low carb version, simply use mashed cauliflower instead of rice. And you can easily make it vegan by omitting the feta cheese.

Serves 4-6


  • 1 cup basmati rice

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 pinch saffron

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • 1 Serrano pepper, de-seeded and chopped finely

  • 4 Tbsp. dried cranberries or raisins

  • ¼ teaspoon cumin

  • 1 bunch Swiss chard

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 4 tablespoons toasted pistachio kernels

  • Salt and pepper to taste.

  • ½ cup mint leaves or dill, washed and chopped

  • 4 oz. feta cheese, cubed

In Iran dried barberries would be used instead of cranberries.


  1. Soak the saffron in a couple of tablespoons boiling water

  2. Wash the rice and cook in 2 cups water, adding the saffron and saffron water as well.

  3. Wash and slice the chard.

  4. Toast the pistachio kernels and chop them.

  5. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet and put it over medium heat. Crush the garlic straight into the skillet. Add Serrano pepper, cumin and raisins or berries and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Don't let the garlic and berries scorch - lower the heat if necessary.

  6. Add the chard into the skillet and continue to cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pistachios, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and toss. Remove from the heat.

  7. Add the rice into the skillet and toss.

  8. Now gently stir in the feta cheese and sprinkle dill and/or mint on top.

Alakananda Ma M.B., B.S. (Lond.) is an Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.

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