I hadn't cooked sweet potatoes as much as I do after moving to Canada. It's ironical because I have grown up eating it quite a lot. Sweet potatoes have a home in many things within the Indian cuisine. Popularly called shakarkand in Hindi, it's usually found throughout the year in India —more commonly in the winters— and made into curries and gravies (individually and also part of a mixed vegetables ensemble), sweet delights and savory snacks like chaats.
This sweet potato stew is everything good I can wish on a busy day or days when I don't want to cook up a storm! Being a complex carbohydrate, sweet potatoes are amidst my favourite good carbs. They are high in fiber and beta-carotene—especially the dark orange fleshed ones—and such good sources of that mushy sweet flavour we often crave in our food.
One of the foremost used ingredient in Thanksgiving in the western world, sweet potato was cultivated long before the other favourite, white potato. The story of sweet potato also goes back to Peru. Columbus introduced this tuberous vegetable of the then 'New World' to Europe, and by 1740s American colonists had coined the term 'sweet potato' to distinguish this root vegetable from its kin, the white potato.
Is this recipe vegan?
Drum rolls! Yes, it is!
What is the stew made of?
The stew in this recipe is made of peanuts. But, wait! Are you allergic to peanuts? You can make it with any other nut of your choice, and it will still taste great! I have made it with cashews, almonds and even walnuts, and each one lends a creamy texture than peanuts. So, if you're in love with those flavors, don't hesitate from replacing peanuts.
What if I'm allergic to nuts?
You could still make it! Just leave the nuts out of your sauce. The sauce in this recipe uses sesame seeds, and that can make your stew creamy enough. Think tahini! Just increase the quantity by a spoon, and you're all set! You could also add boiled (canned) chickpeas instead of the nuts. The possibilities are endless.
Can I make it into a soup?
Hell yes! Add more water to turn the stew runny. However, I would say, give this baby a try as a stew. I can say for sure that you wouldn't be disappointed. Eat it just as is, or serve it on top of rice or even pasta, or scoop it with bread. It's so versatile and such a forgiving one for any one trying to cook it for the first time!
1 big or 2 medium sized sweet potatoes cut into cubes
1/4 cup green peas
For the sauce: 1 tbsp lightly roasted peanuts, 3-4 lemon grass stalks, 1 inch roughly sliced ginger, 4 pods of garlic, 1 tsp white lightly roasted sesame seeds
For the sautéing: 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of cumin seeds, 1 small onion chopped, 2 cloves of garlic diced, 2 green or red chilies slit, 1/4 tsp each of turmeric, paprika or red chili powder, cumin and coriander powder, 1/4 tsp dried or 1 sprig or fresh rosemary, 2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper
Salt to taste
1-2 slices of lemon
Fresh parsley or coriander leaves
Make the sauce:
Add all the ingredients mentioned for the sauce along with some water into a blender and make a fine paste.
Make the stew:
In a pan, heat oil on medium heat, and then add cumin seeds and diced cloves of garlic and the slit chilies. 1. (You can skip the chilies if you don’t like it spicy, but I recommend it as a good balance to the sweetness of the potatoes.)
Toss and then add the onions. Once the onions turn pink, add the sweet potatoes and the dry spices: turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander and saute everything.
Add the rosemary and thyme. Sauté and cover for a minute or two on low heat to let the aroma of the herbs sink inside and the sweet potatoes to slightly char.
Open and check if the sweet potatoes have turned tender. Remove the herb sprigs.
Add the peanut paste and the green peas, and sauté for a few seconds. Cover and cook for 2 minutes.
Open and add water to the desired consistency of the stew.
Let it come to a boil and then season with salt and pepper. You can mash a few sweet potatoes and make the stew thicker if you like.
Let it simmer for about 5-7 minutes and then turn off the heat. Squeeze the lemon slices and add some fresh parsley or coriander.
Serve with some hot rice or dinner rolls or rustic toasted bread! Enjoy!!