sweet potato rates even higher than other foodstuffs i can't stand as it has both a peculiar taste and smell, on top of its already pasty, sometimes fibrous, cooked texture. don't get me wrong .... i have, over the years, tried to form a friendship with it. i have sampled various dishes with it made by friends, only to be disappointed each and every time. i had to say no, however, to trying that most american specialty of pureed sweet pototoes with bruleed marshmallows on top. i mean, really. marshmallows cooked on sweet potatoes?! i must protest. LOUDLY.
life however does not always remain constant.
about a year back, i was shopping for groceries as i normally do. i don't know what possessed me to pick up this tuber once again but i did. perhaps i was attracted to its perfectly formed shape or looked at it passing by and suddenly felt guilty about my hatred for ipomoea batatas. i brought it home anyway, a large and hefty specimen at that, and sat it down on the counter. a few days passed and i still had not figured out what to do with it. about 2 weeks into it, i began to wonder why, oh why, i shlepped back this extra pound of vegetable matter.
it sat there for a few weeks. aging. gathering dust.
as it often happens, i found an idea one day when i wasn't even looking. to be honest, i thought in the back of my mind, this sweet potato was really headed for the garbage can, especially into its second week of taking up counter space.
the recipe i found turned out to be brilliantly good and a fortuitous event, helping me forge a new relationship with this orange enemy of my past. i hope you'll try it and see, as i did, that sometimes something we think is horrid, can be turned into something utterly delicious.
spicy sweet potato tikki [patties]
this is a recipe from yamuna devi from her well-known and appreciated book, the art of indian vegetarian cooking. do try the recipe as is before substituting and changing things. it really does taste fantastic as is.
1 lb sweet potatoes [454 g = ~ 3 med sized ones]
3 tbsp ground almonds or cashews
3 tbsp ground sunflower seeds
3 tbsp dried shredded coconut
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne/red chili pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp roasted chickpea flour
peel and cut sweet potato in chunks. boil water and cook until they are soft when pierced with a knife or fork.
drain completely and mash until smooth. place in bowl and set aside.
while that is cooking, measure out all the other remaining ingredients.
add the dry ingredients to the mashed sweet potatoes and mix well.
to make the [tikki] patties, divide the mixture into 8 equal portions.
next to the sink with water running, or with a bowl of warm water next to you, wet your hands and shake off the water. grab one portion of the mixture and form a thick one inch round patty. set this aside on a very lightly oiled plate (it can be a bit sticky).
in a large frypan, or 2 pans to save time [try to use nonstick ones], heat a very, very thin layer of oil on medium heat for 2 minutes. lower the heat to medium low (more on the low side).
add the patties so that you have enough space to flip them over easily. remember they are very fragile and while they hold together nicely, they can fall apart. if it happens shape them back into a patty with the spatula. if they cook properly, you shouldn't have problems. i like 4 to a pan. if you don't have 2 pans, make two batches.
cook the patties for 15 to 20 minutes per side. you will know when to turn them as they will be dark, golden brown and formed a nice crust. if it hasn't started to happen after 10 minutes, raise the heat a bit. the idea is for a longer, slow cooking. don't move them until the end of the cooking time (unless you feel the heat is too high and they are burning).
after they are browned on one side, flip them over and cook another 15 to 20 minutes until the other side is crispy and browned.
once cooked, remove the pan from heat and let them cool down before moving them. you will see they will firm up nicely once they have rested.
enjoy with a chutney or even on its own. they are amazingly delicious — and that's coming from a confessed sweet potato hater! :)
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