Saturday, January 20, 2007

sweet potato confessions

i have to admit that, until recently, i harbored a true hatred for all things sweet potato. this stems from my dislike for certain textures in foods.

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]
suran tikki

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

vegetable oil


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! :)


sweet potato or yam? always a cause for confusion.
look here for the answer.


Anonymous said...

You have FINGERS!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D

sweet potatoes r love... i'm glad they found you :)

burekaboy — said...

sarina - last time i counted there were five. i thought of doing the harvest bounty shot beholding it in front of me, cupped in both hands as is on many a cookbook page but i thought it a bit pretentious. LOL. LOL. LOL. i held back on showing YOU my thumb.

try making these. i'm SURE you'd love them, queen of sweet potatoes.

i think this is as far as it goes with me concerning my exploration into this tuber. my issues are DEEP. ;P hehe.

i did "the cat test" in its mashed, unadorned state. he gave it two paws down. he actually sniffed and ran away. i trust his judgement. if he ain't lickin' it, i ain't eatin' it! LOL.

Anonymous said...

i see a lot of meow mix in your future :P

thumbs are the awesome! :D

i will make these.. my father is also of the sweet potato hating clan... so i will have to work them into a suitable menu :)

Anonymous said...

re: marshmallows.. mom told me that as a little girl in jamaica.. when they had coal and outdoor ovens... that the way they made sweet potato pies.. well i dont remember the details but she said it had the most amazing creamy frothy sweet layer on top... so i told her how the americans put a layer of marshmallows on the top... so we figured maybe it was the modernish way of trying to recreate whatever the pre-electric ovens were doing... who knows...

burekaboy — said...

sarina - smart man! LOL. he may even approve of them in this manner. you'll have to try it out on him and see.

that's actually quite interesting about the sweet potato pies. you mean they did that on their own from the cooking? could be right about the recreation thing for this sweet potato pie. it's also a very southern (afro american) dish. all i know, s.p.'s + marshmallows = gag reflex. rahter have meow mix. but that's just me.

Blair said...

Wow, they look more like yams to me...
I have a fabulous sweet potato recipe that involves cayenne and honey...

burekaboy — said...

hey blair - thanks for stopping by and your comment :D

you've asked the 60,000 dollar question! didn't even dawn on me to post something about that.

here i've only seen them called sweet potatoes. i am going to add a link that differentiates between the two vegetables as they are definitely not the same (though similar).

to be honest, i've only ever seen this kind here though i know they have different sorts at some of the fruit and vegetable stores catering to the west indian and african communities around me. i've also never looked as i said in my post that i don't really LOVE this root vegetable.

what kind of dish is your recipe for? sounds interesting :))

TopChamp said...

Not sure about this one... I quite like them boiled up and mashed.

I have a recipe that I've JUST made though that I wanted to tell you about (might come in handy one day).

Posted it as it's long for comments.

burekaboy — said...

hey tc - i'll be by to check it out :)) interested in knowing what it is now!!

as for the mashed sweet potatoes...i personally can't get into that. i know quite a few people who love it that way however.

Chanita Harel חני הראל said...

Yummy !
כמה שזה נראה טעים, וגם בריא
נשאר משהו בשבילי ?

Jihan said...

i love sweet potatoes and I miss having it. In guyana, I use it mainly in soups, and occassionaly I would slice it up really tin and make sweet potatoe chips with it. it goes well with tamarind sour.

Over here I bought it twice, the first time I Cut it open and there was a huge worm, I screamed and ran about... and finally took the long stick broom and sweeped it into a pan and threw it away. And the next time I bought it it sat in the basket till it shoot roots and stuff and I was tempted to go plant it in the back yard.

I dont know to buy provisions, my dad use to buy them in Guyana. And everytime i buy over here the look weird on the inside. And I end up throwing it away, cause am never sure if its suppose to look that way, since am in a different country, I miss eating eddoes too. Do you like those?

burekaboy — said...

חנית - נשאר מספיק אבל צריכה לרוץ מהר מהר, תודה רבה

hey pj - you know u can always find them in the supermarkets here like at loblaws (not sure what others you have there) where they keep the potatoes. i'd have been seriously grossed out if i found a worm!! YIKES! :O mine started to sprout also! i waited so long.... but you just cut them off and peel. not harmful. worms are a different story!!

when you buy them, just make sure they are very hard and the skin is smooth and a dark beige colour. if you get them at a big store like loblaws, you should not have any problem. you just bring it back to them and they will either give your money back or give you a new (good) one.

never prepared eddoes myself but i know i've had them (at a chinese restaurant); we call them taro root also. i think you have to peel them under water or something? how do you make them? what do you do with them?

Sharon Pickering said...

Ha! Welcome to the orange side!!!

burekaboy — said...

hey annie! - LOL, i think the train stops here and i'm getting off. i do love the colour, however. my hands even turned orange when i peeled these suckers!!

Blair said...

I am planning on writting up a post about the dish soon, I will email you when I put up my sweet potato recipe! It is pretty yummy.

ByTheBay said...

Oh burekaboy, those look OUTRAGEOUSLY tasty! And will certainly make it to this week's Gluten Free Roundup ;-P

burekaboy — said...

hey blair - great :) looking forward to seeing what it is!

hi btb - thanks! they really are one of the best side dishes or snacks. thanks for the upcoming inclusion :D

Anonymous said...

i wrote a long eddoes comment :(

burekaboy — said...

trinikisari - oh :X grrr... make it reappear!! i want to read it!!! i don't know much about them.

Anonymous said...

i forgot what i wrote :)
the attention span of a gnat :D

um... i like eddoes, dasheen, cassava :) i hate them cooked provision style.. i.e. boiled with plantain and/or green banana and hard grey dumplings... yuck yuck yuck... i like them either mashed with tons of butter and herbs, or cooked with coconut milk in an oil down style :D (look up oil down on TG if you dont know what it is :D )

burekaboy — said...

sarina- thanks for reposting :)) will check it out.

like i said, never had eddoes except at the restaurant. i have a few recipes i will try them out with in the future.

Anonymous said...

ah doh like when they have hard spots :\ they kinda moody :\

Brilynn said...

Sounds good! I've copied down the recipe to try sometime soon. I'm always looking for a new way to do sweet potatoes.

burekaboy — said...

sarina - what do u mean, hard spots?? all i know is that they are fuzzy and that's a little too freaky for me.

hi brilynn - it's one of the only ways you'll get me to eat sweet potatoes! :) hope you like it!

thanks for the comment and dropping by ;D

Anonymous said...


hard spots... ground provisions like eddoes and dasheen sometimes have these weird spots that don't cook and stay hard... even when the rest is fine... i don't like that :( that's why mom don't use them often... not as much value for money cos you don't know til you strip em and stuff how much is actually good..

Jihan said...

I went to the Chinese store today, and the had eddoes sign up with some small eddoes, and another sign up with some big stuff that I am not sure if it looked like eddoes, cause to be honest neither looked like my country eddoes.

I never use to like eddoes in Guyana, but I miss them so much... in Guyana the were Pink at the bottom, and there was big big ones and small ones too.. and the looked so fresh and nice...
here it looks so weird.
I asked a Gentlemen if its the same thing, but he said no.
I remember daddy saying something about there were two types of eddoes, some that where white at the bottom and some that were pink on the bottom. I didnt use to pay much attention to these things back home...

burekaboy — said...

pj - what u saw was most likely what they call TARO, which i know to be quite small.

i think you need find a carribean store in toronto; i'm sure they carry the kind of eddoes (and other things) you want and that you miss. it will take a while for you to get used to how different it is here! unfortunately, you probably won't find all the things you're used to but i'm sure you'll be able to get hold of some. :)

sarina - that sounds real strange. also seems to be wasteful but obviously people are still eating them as i know they are popular. these tubers are obviously difficult characters :S i'll stick to regular potatoes! LOL.

Nupur said...

I tried this recipe, and absolutely loved it! Thanks for sharing :) I know I will make these tikkis often.

burekaboy — said...

nupur - welcome and i thank you for your feedback. glad to hear you really loved the tikki. i have to admit they persuaded me to actually like sweet potatoes! i even make them a few times a year now.

Anonymous said...

Hi !
I too dont like sweet potatoes..and yet I bought them yesterday....Came to your site searching what to do with them..!! I will try them this weekend and see if my approval matches yours..which chutney do you suggest that will go along with this?
By the way nice collection of recipes..


burekaboy — said...

hi deepa - LOL ...good, i'm not the only one who doesn't like them!! everyone keeps telling me i'm 'weird' because i don't ;o

glad you found your way here — i am sure you'll most probably like these [as did i]. they are quite easy to make and don't have that typical sweet potato taste or texture which i can't stand; the only real time consuming part is letting them cook on each side (just remember fairly low heat for around 20 min per side).

as for a chutney, a coriander/mint or a tamarind one is very good with the tikki. i'm sure even tomato or coconut chutney would work, too. they're also great on their own.

hope you like them as much as i did. let me know what you think after you try them, if you can :) thanks for your visit and nice comment; hope to see you again :D

oh yeah, not sure if you saw but there is also another recipe using sweet potatoes in my latest post (indian one, also).

~M said...

Hi Bureka Boy,

I love sweet potatoes, and how they can last for ages in a pantry/cellar.

I was wondering whether you think it would work, in this recipe, to bake the sweet potatoes (in their skins, covered with foil) as opposed to boiling them in water. America's Test Kitchen recommends braising sweet potatoes but the recipe includes butter, and I don't want to make these dairy.


burekaboy — said...

hi ~m - yes, it's quite incredible how long they last on the pantry shelf! much longer than regular potatoes.

i'm sure that you could bake the potatoes instead of boiling them -- it would pretty much end up the 'same difference', if you know what i mean. i don't see the advantage though; it takes much longer to bake them. i've always just boiled them and they come out fantastic in this recipe.

in any case, i hope you like these. they are REALLY good :) that, coming from a confessed sweet potato-hater! LOL. lemme know what you think.

hey, it's soon your favourite time of year GF pesach products!! :)) stock up!!