The first time I made curry, I spent a lot of time figuring what additional spices I needed to buy. I had cumin, cinnamon, and black pepper in my pantry. It turns out that the simplest thing you can do is buy a container of generic curry powder - Trader Joe's sells 2 ounces for $2.
Coconut Sweet Potato Curry
Coconut sweet potato curry was the first curry I tried. It features tender sweet potatoes in a rich and savory coconut sauce. I love adding chickpeas and spinach to this basic recipe and serving it over brown rice for a filling vegan meal.
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ inch of ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon of curry powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 pound of sweet potatoes (about 3-4)
- 1 can (15 ounce) of coconut cream
- 1 cup of water
- Peel the sweet potatoes, and dice into roughly ½ inch pieces.
- Heat up the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, and salt. Stirring occasionally, saute for 3-5 minutes until the onions are golden brown.
- Add the sweet potatoes, coconut cream, and water to the pan.
- Stir occasionally, and simmer uncovered for 35-40 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.
- Serve over rice. Leftovers store well in the fridge for a few days.
- Oil: Used for cooking the stew. Helps mellow out the onion and toast the spices. Any sort of oil (canola, vegetable, olive) is okay. Coconut oil would work well in this context.
- Onion: Required for sweet potato coconut curry. Adds sweetness and depth. Any color onion (red, white, yellow) is okay. Milder onions, such as spring onions or shallots, would also work.
- Curry powder: Required for sweet potato coconut curry. Curry powder can contain a variety of spices: turmeric, cumin, cardamom, coriander, cayenne, mustard, cinnamon.
- Sweet potatoes: Something to eat in the stew. Use up to 4 medium sweet potatoes. Similar orange vegetables include carrots, butternut squash, and pumpkin.
- Liquid: Helps the vegetables cook. I used 1 cup of water. You can substitute broth.
- Coconut cream: Required for sweet potato coconut curry. Coconut cream is thicker, full fat coconut milk. Substituting full fat coconut milk would be okay. Using canned low fat coconut milk or very thin coconut milk beverage will not add as much flavor.
- Salt: Seasons the stew. Quantity depends on how much stuff you add and if you use salted broth. Substituting soy sauce adds savory depth.
African peanut stew has similar additional ingredients.
- Aromatics: Add flavor. Dice finely and cook with the onion at the beginning. Use up to 4 cloves of garlic. Use up to 1 inch of ginger.
- Spicy: Adds spiciness. Use up to 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper. Alternatively, use hot sauce. I used Sriracha as a garnish.
- Sour: Enhances flavor. Add when the vegetables are completely done cooking or else you will get weirdly crunchy sweet potatoes. Use up to 2 tablespoons of vinegar (white, apple cider) or lemon juice.
- Tomato: Use 1 can (15 ounces) of tomatoes, or use up to 1 can (6 ounces) of tomato paste. Can also chop up fresh tomatoes and add towards the end.
- Leafy greens: Add up to 1 pound of spinach when the sweet potatoes are done
- Quick protein: Add a 15-ounce can of chickpeas. Cook some eggs and eat on top of the curry.
Alternate Cooking Methods
To make this in a slow cooker, add all of the ingredients, and cook on low until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 4 hours.
Cooking the sweet potatoes ahead of time decreases the cook time. If you're cooking them whole, make sure to stab holes to prevent potato explosions. You can bake sweet potatoes in the oven (~45 minutes) or zap them in the microwave (8-10 minutes)
Step by Step Photos
If you want rice with the curry, you should cook it now so that the rice and curry are done at around the same time. As a warning, brown rice takes 2 hours to make in a rice cooker, so plan ahead.
Prepare the aromatics: onion, garlic, and ginger. I use 2 cloves of garlic and 1/2 inch of ginger, which come out to around 1 tablespoon when minced. The pieces of ginger shown above are detectable in the finished curry. If you mind the texture of ginger, you can mince it more finely.
Peel the sweet potatoes, and dice into roughly 1/2 inch pieces. Sometimes, I cook the sweet potato whole ahead of time because it's easier to peel cooked sweet potatoes. If your sweet potato is already cooked, the final cook time will be a lot shorter.
Heat up the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, and salt. I used sliced red onion with cilantro leftover from a free food event.
Stirring occasionally, saute for 3-5 minutes until the onions are golden brown. This step also toasts the curry powder, adding more flavor.
Add the sweet potatoes, coconut cream, and water to the pan. Simmer uncovered for 35-40 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender. I don't use a lid because I can't find one that fits the pan. This also allows the water to evaporate, making the sauce less watery.
Make sure that you stir occasionally. The sweet potatoes at the bottom of the pan cook much faster than the sweet potatoes on top. I didn't stir as often as I should have, and some of my sweet potatoes were a bit crunchy.
This recipe makes about 5 1-cup servings of sweet potato coconut curry. Leftovers store well in the fridge for a few days. For a super quick and filling breakfast, I have this with 2-3 pan poached eggs.