Sweet potatoes keep coming in our CSA bushels, and they are a welcome site. My favorite use of them is making oven fries seasoned with various chile powders. I’ve taken to dipping those oven fries into harissa instead of ketchup which brings another layer of smoky, spiciness. It’s not that I’ve gotten tired of that routine. In fact, I’ll probably roast some wedges and serve them exactly like that later this evening, but with last week’s sweet potatoes, I felt the need to try something new. I found this Sri Lankan dish in Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. It’s made with an aromatic and spicy mix of ingredients that accommodates sweet potatoes like it was meant to be.
First, peeled and chunked sweet potatoes were boiled with ground turmeric added to the water. Next, oil was heated in a large frying pan, and dried red chiles were added followed by whole cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick. Then, I ran into an issue with needing curry leaves. I can never find curry leaves, and I’ve considered growing my own plant, but a suggested substitution was holy basil or any basil. I do have Thai basil and opal basil and Genovese basil plants and they're all still doing well, so I used Thai basil here. About 20 leaves were added to the frying pan with the spices, and the amazing smell of those ingredients cooking together was a happy moment in the kitchen. It got even better when a big pile of sliced onions was added. After the onion slices browned, the drained sweet potato chunks were added and cooked for five minutes or so until tender but still holding their shape. Last, crushed red chiles, salt, and lime juice were added just before serving.
The alluring cooking smells translated into a very flavorful dish. The sweetness of the potatoes and the sweet savoriness of the browned onions were met with chile heat and warm spices. Of course I’ll continue to make my regular oven fries from time to time, but now there’s a new sweet potato dish to add to the rotation.