Do you have any sweet potatoes hanging out in your pantry that didn’t make it into any buttery-baked-marshmallow-topped-Thanksgiving casseroles? Have you had enough leftovers and are you in the mood for something slightly…new? Try mixing coconut, lime, sweet potato, cilantro…are you catching my drift? You are going to love this rich-and-light-at-the-same-time Coconut Lime Sweet Potato Curry. Serving it with forbidden (black) rice adds a perfect nuttiness to the dish. And if you want to add an extra touch, just whip up some Pakora Vegetables on the side. Seriously. They’re whip-uppable.
This curry is adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries, a pretty serious Indian
Encyclopedia Cookbook. This is an impressive 800+ page book filled with so many amazing curry recipes, as promised, and so, so much more–it’s a great read on Indian culture and cuisine (you read cookbooks like novels, too, right?). If you want authentic, deep, complex Indian flavors at your fingertips, this book needs to be on your shelf.
Take note–authentic, deep, complex Indian flavors require authentic, deep, complex Indian ingredients. Iyer also emphasizes the importance of procuring spices whole, when possible. He devotes an entire section to educating the reader about spice blends and pastes, and how just one spice can offer at least eight different flavors, depending on the preparation used (toasted, ground, soaked, etc.). I am lucky enough to have an Indian Specialty store within 20 minutes of where I live. You can find most of the ingredients at local grocery stores, but there is an occasional ingredient that will be “specialty” (like asafetida in this recipe). You can either omit it, or try and find a similar ingredient you have access to.
For example, asafetida is the ground root of an herb indigenous to India and the surrounding mountainous regions. On its own, its odor is quite…odorous (to be nice), but when it’s mixed in with a curry or other sauce, it adds a more rounded savoriness, and a fuller flavor to a vegetarian dish (as described to me by my Indian Specialty Store Owner). I’ve read it delivers a flavor similar to leeks, so you could in theory add some sliced and sautéed leeks to the recipe. This recipe calls for such a small amount (1/2 teaspoon), that you would probably do better to just omit it. You won’t miss it with the sweet potatoes, cilantro, coconut, lime…this dish is sort of an Indian-Caribbean Fusion with so much going on!
COCONUT LIME SWEET POTATO CURRY WITH FORBIDDEN RICE
Adapted from Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or 2 teaspoons ground cumin)
- 1/2 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2-1 jalapeño, seeded, ribbed, and finely diced (optional, depending on how much heat you want for your curry)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 15oz can coconut milk
- 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
- Juice and zest of 1 large lime
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup forbidden rice, prepared according to package instructions
- Prepare the forbidden rice according to package directions. While the rice is cooking, prepare the coconut lime curry.
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the cumin, asafetida, and turmeric, and cook, stirring, until you can smell the spices, about 10 seconds. Add the potatoes and jalapeño, and salt and pepper to taste, until the potatoes are coated with the spices.
- Pour coconut milk, shredded coconut, and 1 1/2 cups water to the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low, cover, and cook until the potatoes are velvety smooth, about 20-30 minutes.
- Stir in the lime juice and zest, cilantro leaves, and black beans. Add 1/2 cup more water if you need to thin out the sauce.
- Serve with more chopped cilantro.
Directly from Iyer’s 660 Curries Cookbook
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 teaspoons chaat masala, or just salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 4-6 cups of varied sliced vegetables (vegetables that work really well are cauliflower and broccoli florets, large slices of sweet onion, large slices of green bell pepper)
- To make the batter, mix the two flours, cornstarch, baking soda, chaat masala/salt, cayenne, and turmeric in a medium-size bowl. Pour in about 1/2 cup warm water, whisking the ingredients together to form a thick better. Add more warm water, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking after each addition, to make a smooth, thick batter that coats a spoon.
- Pour oil to a depth of 2-3 inches into a pot. heat the oil over medium heat until a candy or deep-frying thermometer register 350 degrees F.
- Prepare a cooling rack with a few sheets of paper towels underneath. After frying, the vegetable will rest on the cooling rack and won’t get mushy. Once the oil is ready, drop a few of the vegetables into the batter, completely coating each piece. Carefully drop the coated vegetables in the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crisp all over. Remove them with a slotted spoon or a spider and let them rest on the cooling rack.