Believe it or not, sweet potatoes have quite a long & interesting history. Thought to have originated in Central/South America over 8000 years ago, the sweet potato was brought back & introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus. Today, sweet potatoes are enjoyed globally & commonly classified as a root vegetable. In Marathi, the word for sweet potato is “ratala” and in Hindi, it is “shakarkhand”.
Although generally sweeter in taste, sweet potatoes are regarded as much healthier than the standard, more familiar potato. Sweet potatoes are an extremely good source of beta-carotene, Vitamin A & Vitamin C. They are also thought to have both antioxidant & anti-inflammatory properties.
My Sweet Potato & Chicken Curry is always a big hit, especially with kids. This dish is a great way to introduce your guests to Indian cuisines. The inherent sweetness of the sweet potato adds a wonderful layer of flavor & complexity to this tasty dish.
SWEET POTATO & CHICKEN CURRY
1 lb boneless/skinless chicken, cut into 1” size pieces
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely minced
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
2-3 small green Thai chilies, slit I half lengthwise (to taste)
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
½ tsp kala/goda masala (or garam masala)
1 tsp ground coriander powder
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 dried red chilies, to taste
5-6 fresh curry leaves
pinch of asafetida (hing)
½ tbsp Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1 cup thick coconut milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp toasted coconut flakes for garnish
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
In a small bowl, combine the turmeric with the red chili powder, kala masala, ground coriander powder & about 2 tbsp or so of water. Mix well to combine & set aside until needed.
In a medium size pot on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, carefully add in the mustard seeds & allow them to splatter. Then quickly add in the cumin seeds along with the dried red chilies, curry leaves, asafetida & Kasoori methi. Next, add in the onions along with the garlic, ginger & green chilies. Let cook until the onions are translucent & have softened. Then add in the reserved spice mixture from above & stir well to combine. At this point, you can add in the chicken pieces & mix well so that they are well coated with all of the spices & aromatics. Let cook for 4-5 minutes & then add in the coconut milk along with about ½ cup or so of water & bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
Now slowly add the sweet potatoes & stir well to combine all of the ingredients. Bring to a gentle boil, cover & let cook until the sweet potatoes are fork tender & the chicken is fully cooked – about 8-10 minutes or so. If the curry sauce has slightly reduced, simply add more coconut milk (or water) as desired. Garnish with cilantro leaves & the toasted coconut. Serve as part of any delicious Indian meal.
Feel free to add a cup or so of cooked chickpeas along with the sweet potatoes for a little extra protein. This curry can also be made using pumpkin or butternut squash as well.