06 March 2008

Sri Lankan Sweet Potatoes with Cardamom and Chiles

OK, sure it's not a flattering picture, but these were the best damn sweet potatoes I've ever had.

I generally turn to Julie Sahni for Indian cooking, but we somehow ended up with a copy of Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian a few years ago. The problem with the book is that it's a big dense thing with no readability at all. It's not a book you can just leaf through and find yourself saying, "oh that's what we're having for dinner tonight." And so it sat on the shelf until this post on Serious Eats reminded me that it was there.

It turns out that the secret to World Vegetarian it is to approach it like a reference book, looking up ingredients in the index that you need to cook. So, we had these sweet potatoes and Madhur gave us...

Sri Lankan Sweet Potatoes with Cardamom and Chiles
Madhur Jaffrey, World Vegetarian (1999) (attributed to Cheryl Rathkopf).

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks (3/4")
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 5 Tbs. peanut or olive oil
  • 3 dried chiles
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 handfuls of curry leaves or, alternatively, basil
  • 3 onions, halved and sliced thin
  • 2 tsp. crushed hot chiles
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. lime juice
Boil the sweet potatoes with the tumeric for 5 to 6 minutes, then drain. Add the oil to a frying pan and cook the chiles over high to medium high heat. Quickly add in the cardamom and cinnamon, followed after a few seconds by the curry leaves. Next stir in the onions and cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Next add the sweet potatoes and stir fry them for a few minutes. Finish it off with the crushed chiles, salt and lime juice, then drop the heat and keep cooking until the potatoes are tender enough to eat. Remove pods and sticks before serving.

We'll definitely pick this book off the shelf more often now.

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