A blog about cooking and food, and how to make it taste good and be healthy. The dishes are almost all gluten/dairy free, and many are vegetarian. The focus is on techniques and ingredients over recipes - this is about everyday cooking, and that means making it work with whats on hand!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sweet Potato Curry

I went to a Diwali/Eid potluck dinner over the weekend and made this dish, which also works in a Thanksgiving context.

Start with sweet potatoes and onions - cube the sweet potatoes and dice the onions.  Get the sweet potatoes cooking.  I used a pressure cooker and you could also boil them.
Heat some oil, and add a small amount of mustard and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add  the onions to the oil, where they'll sweat and soften for about 10 minutes with frequent stirring.  One of the keys to a rich vegetarian Indian dish is slow and long cooked onions.
While that is going, heat some cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and cardamon seeds (pop open the pods) in a pan. Cook them on a high heat and shake frequently until toasted.  Grind them up with a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.  If you don't have either of them, or don't want to use them, just use pre-ground spices.
Once the onions have softened, add 1 small chopped tomato, tumeric, garam masala, two or three cloves, half a cinnamon stick, salt, and the ground spices and fry up the mix for about 5 minutes.  Frying the spices in the oil extracts the flavors, and changes them a bit.  To get the flavors, you only need to fry for 2-3 minutes, but I let it go longer to cook the tomatoes more.  The result is a nice masala paste.

Many different foods could be added to the paste to make a good curry - chicken, beef, shrimp, chickpeas, potatoes, cauliflower, eggplant or almost anything else.  Add the cooked sweet potatoes, a spoonful of tamarind paste, the juice of half an orange, and a spoonful of brown sugar.  I would not add anything other than the vegetables/meat for other curries (maybe the tamarind, and I would have used more tomato), but sweet potatoes have a sweetness I wanted to enhance. The orange juice is a holdover from many American sweet potato dishes that works with the tamarind here. 

Mix it all up, and you're done!

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