Madeira-Braised Swiss Chard with Garam Masala, Sultanas, and Toasted Almonds

Swiss chard cooks down into tender, silky ribbons when braised with fruity Madeira and complex, tangy, earthy garam masala in this recipe. Be sure to have some bread on-hand to use to sop up the flavorful cooking liquid.

Madeira-Braised Swiss Chard with Garam Masala, Sultanas, and Toasted Almonds
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Thom Driver
Total Time:
30 mins
6 to 8 servings

Braising is the process of cooking food quickly to brown it and develop flavor, and then further cooking it slowly in liquid in a sealed pot. This two-pronged technique is most often used for transforming tougher cuts of meat into tender, rich dishes, but it can also be applied to vegetables, particularly those with fibrous stalks and leaves. While braising can be done with all kinds of liquids, from milk to stock, wine is optimal both for its flavor and its acidity. Fruity flavors bring complexity, and wine's acidity enlivens the more mellow flavors that build up in a braise. Fortified wines like sherry and port, which are wines that have been augmented with a distilled spirit, often brandy, work particularly well in braises; their rich, fruity, and nutty flavor profiles add another kind of depth.

In this Madeira-Braised Swiss Chard with Garam Masala, Sultanas and Toasted Almonds, a savory-sweet Madeira-based sauce builds a complex flavor. The sauce is seasoned with spices that complement the earthy Swiss chard, leading to an agrodolce-like effect. White raisins reiterate the flavor of the Madeira, and toasted almonds bring out its inherent nuttiness. The Swiss chard will cook down into tender, silky ribbons.


  • 2 medium bunches red Swiss chard (about 1 1/2 pounds)

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 medium-size (8-ounce) red onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

  • 1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 4 teaspoons)

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger (from 1 [1/2-inch] piece)

  • 1 ½ teaspoons garam masala

  • 1 cup Madeira

  • ¾ cup sultanas (golden raisins)

  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted


  1. Remove chard stems and thick veins from chard leaves, and cut stems crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut leaves crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide ribbons. Set aside stems and leaves separately.

  2. Melt butter in a 12-inch stainless steel skillet over medium-high. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring often, until onion is lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add chard stems, garlic, ginger, and garam masala; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and well combined, about 2 minutes. Add Madeira; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid reduces to about 1/4 cup, 8 to 10 minutes.

  3. Gradually add chard leaves to onion mixture in large handfuls, tossing and stirring until leaves begin to wilt before adding another handful, about 2 minutes total. Stir in sultanas and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until chard leaves and stems are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with additional salt to taste.

  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chard mixture to a platter. If desired, reserve cooking liquid in skillet for serving separately. Sprinkle chard mixture with sliced almonds, and serve immediately.

Suggested Pairing

Nutty, dry Madeira: Blandy's 5 Year Old Verdelho

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