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Chile Lime Sweet Potatoes with Spinach Clove Yogurt

I actually think it’ll be easier to get back to posting regularly once I use up all the drafts I have waiting to be posted. Seems a bit backwards, but it’s sort of like the way deadlines make it easier to get work done. (Good thing I am in a profession with an overabundance of deadlines.)

I’m a huge Madhur Jaffrey fan, and this was a combination of two of her recipes that I thought would work well together. If I were the sort to host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home, I’d consider serving this along with the turkey – I think it would go very well with that soft of feast. Luckily, I’m not – my family’s tradition is spending Thanksgiving having steak at Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn. Forget dry turkey and lots of cleanup, and bring in the luscious almost-bloody meat and chocolate Thanksgiving gelt and no room left for dessert at the end.

Actually, come to think of it, I’d eat this dish with steak, too. It’s sweet and spicy and tangy, hot and cold together, and even my yogurt and potato hating partner agreed that it was pretty good. And that’s an accomplishment.

Oh, by the way – do any of you know anything about event spaces in NYC? If so, please email me at habeasbruleeATgmailDOTcom. Wedding planning is a difficult conundrum, and I’d love to pick your brains if you’re familiar with interesting spaces in the city.

2007: Hungarian Sausage, Baby Bok Choy, and Sweet Potato Soup
2006: Töltött Káposzta (Stuffed Cabbage)

Both recipes here are adapted from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey.

Sri Lankan Sweet Potatoes with Cardamom and Chiles
2 very large sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
3 whole dried hot red Indian chiles, broken into halves
2 whole cardamom pods
1 3″ cinnamon stick
20 fresh curry leaves
3 big onions, thinly sliced (about 1 1/4 lbs.)
Crushed hot red chiles to taste
Salt to taste (approximately 1 1/4 tsp finely ground)
At least 1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (and probably plenty more)
Safflower oil for frying

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into bite-sized chunks. Boil up a pot of water, salt it a bit, then add the sweet potatoes and boil for about 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain and set aside.

Put some safflower oil in a large pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the halved chiles and stir. Once they darken (which will happen fast), add the cardamom and cinnamon. Stir for a few seconds, then add the curry leaves. Stir for another few seconds, then add the onions.

Brown the onions to taste – not too dark, because the sweet potatoes add enough sweetness, but dark enough for good flavor.

Stir in the sweet potatoes, and stir fry for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the crushed chiles, salt, and lime juice. Lower the heat and continue to stir and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender enough to serve.

Remove the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick and adjust the seasonings before serving.

Yogurt with Spinach and Cloves
4 whole cardamom pods
1 1″ cinnamon stick
8 whole cloves
1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 2 oz.)
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, peeled and thoroughly crushed
10 oz. fresh spinach, trimmed, washed, drained, and coarsely chopped
2 C plain thick yogurt
Ground cayenne, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Safflower oil for frying
1 tbsp raw basmati rice

Put about 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. When very hot, add the cinnamon, cardamom, and 4 of the cloves. When they sizzle and expand (fast!), stir in the onion and fry until they just start to brown around the edges, about 3 minutes or so.

Stir in the garlic and ginger for a few seconds, then add the spinach and about 1/4 tsp finely ground salt.

Continue stirring and cooking for a few minutes, until the spinach is fully wilted and tender and tasty. Turn off the heat, and pick out the whole spices and discard them.

In a separate, dry pan, cook the raw rice over medium high heat until it turns reddish brown, stirring constantly. Let it cool, then grind it to a fine powder.

Put the yogurt in a large bowl and stir with a fork until creamy. Stir in 1/2 tsp finely ground salt, and black pepper and cayenne to taste. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp of the ground toasted rice powder. Stir in the spinach.

In a clean pan, heat 1 tsp oil over medium high heat. When hot, stir in the remaining 4 cloves until they sizzle and expand. Just before serving, remove the cloves and stir the clove oil into the yogurt.

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2 Responses to “Chile Lime Sweet Potatoes with Spinach Clove Yogurt”

  1. There’s an old bank that’s been converted to an art center, right near Peter Luger…. but it has no kitchen! How do I know? Our daughter got married there! Love the sweet potato recipe — lime and chile and potatoes are a great combo.

  2. mr.ed says:

    I can do this while the turkey’s smoking, and the spanikopita is heating. Unfortunately, complex flavors are wasted on some relatives. But I ain’t runnin’ no restaurant.

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November 2008
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