Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sweet Potatoes in Tomato Curry Sauce with Hard-Boiled Eggs

Sweet Potatoes in TOmato Curry Sauce with Hard-Boiled Eggs

There’s a Vegan Option to this Recipe

Every Easter we hard-boil and dye eggs.  Inevitably, we then face the problem of what to do with all those eggs once we’ve finished our gleeful round of decorating.

Deviled eggs (I add curry to mine) are an obvious answer, and a good one.  But this year we wanted to do something different.  Riffing off the curry idea, I decided to make, well, curried eggs.

The dish I devised is well worth trying.  Not only that, there’s a vegan version that’s even better!

Vegan Version of Sweet Potato Curry in Tomato Sauce

Recipe:  Sweet Potatoes in Tomato Curry Sauce with Hard-Boiled Eggs (with a Vegan alternative)

This dish is inspired by a recipe for eggs with curry sauce that I found in Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking (the 1982 version written to accompany a BBC TV program; now out of print).  The first time I tried the recipe, I essentially made her dish, with some minor changes inspired by a recipe in Sipra Das Gupta’s The Home Book of Indian Cookery (1973 edition, also out of print).  Both of these recipes call for ordinary white potatoes.  

Unfortunately, the finished dish was disappointing.  The flavor was acceptable, but not inspiring.

After some thinking and experimentation, I came up with a version that uses sweet potatoes and adds green peas at the end.  This dish is much improved, and a definite keeper.  

But  . . . even though this started out as an egg recipe, I discovered that the eggs really didn’t add all that much to the dish.  If you omit the eggs (and the yogurt), you’ll have a great-tasting vegan side dish.   

This recipe serves 4 as a main dish.  It can be served with cooked rice (as presented here) or with an Indian bread like naan or roti.

  • 1 – 1½ pounds sweet potatoes, diced into ½ -inch cubes (1 big, or 2 small-to-mediumish)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onion (more or less; 1 large onion or 2 small)
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1-inch cube fresh ginger, finely minced 
  • 1 – 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely minced
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons canola or other neutral vegetable oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomato (may substitute petite diced tomatoes)
  • 4 tablespoons plain yogurt (optional)
  • water (optional; use to thin sauce if you wish)
  • 2 cups green peas (fresh or frozen; avoid canned)
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons minced cilantro (a/k/a fresh coriander; if you don’t like cilantro, omit or replace with parsley)
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon garam masala (or to taste)
  • 4 – 8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into halves, quarters, or slices
  • cooked rice
Hard-boiled eggs curried in tomato sauce with potatoes on plate with naan in background
First version of the curry with white potatoes
  1. Wash sweet potatoes, peel, and dice into cubes of about ½ inch.  Place in microwave- safe dish with cover, and microwave for 5 minutes (see note).  If you are preparing rice, you want to start that now.
  2. Meanwhile, peel onions, halve through poles, and slice thinly (parallel to equator).  Peel and finely mince garlic.  Skin and finely mince ginger.  Stem, seed, and finely mince jalapeño peppers.  (I usually toss the garlic, ginger, and jalapeño peppers into a mini food processor to mince.)
  3. Heat large (9- to 12-inch) frying pan, preferably nonstick, on medium heat.  When hot, add oil, allow it to heat (it will ripple or shimmer), and add onions.  Salt to taste.  Sauté for 4 – 5 minutes until onions are translucent.  
  4. Add minced garlic, ginger, and jalapeño peppers to onions.  Continue to sauté for another 2 – 3 minutes.
  5. Add cayenne, turmeric, ground coriander, and ground cumin.  Stir to incorporate into onion mixture.  Cook for 1 minute (you’re toasting the spices and allowing the oil to absorb their flavor).
  6. Add sweet potatoes, stir, and sauté briefly (no more than a minute) to infuse with spices.
  7. Add crushed tomatoes.  Stir to incorporate.  Add yogurt to tomato mixture, stir to incorporate (optional; see note).  If sauce is too thick, add water to thin (usually ½ - 1 cup).  Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes (or longer if sweet potatoes need more cooking time to soften).  Meanwhile, peel hard-boiled eggs and cut into halves, quarters, or slices.
  8. * You can make the dish ahead to this point.  If you’re doing so, cool and refrigerate at this stage.  When ready to finish, heat to simmer and proceed with next step.
  9. About 5 minutes before you’re ready to serve, add peas and cook for 5 minutes.  
  10. Add chopped cilantro (optional) and garam masala, stir to incorporate, and remove pan from heat.
  11. Serve over rice.  Add at least one hard-boiled egg to each serving.  Garnish with a scattering of minced cilantro (or parsley).

  • Acidic sauces (like tomato) extend the cooking time of some foods. For that reason, it’s a good idea to precook the sweet potatoes in the microwave. You don’t need to completely cook them through, although you want to make sure they are nearly done so they won’t need to spend much time cooking in the sauce. (You can cook them entirely in the sauce if you wish, but you’ll extend the cooking time considerably). If you happen to have leftover cooked sweet potatoes (not candied), you can use them in this dish (roasted sweet potatoes are great).
  • Garam masala is a blend of spices that usually includes pepper, cloves, cumin, mace, and cardamom. It’s not hot, but it is aromatically spicy. Always add it at the last minute, so that its incomparable aroma won’t dissipate. You can make garam masala at home, but I always buy it premixed at an Indian grocery (many Chinese groceries carry it too). If you want to buy it online, Penzeys Spices is a good source. I always buy the smallest quantity possible; once opened, the quality deteriorates rapidly.
  • Yogurt adds a nice tang to the sauce and smoothes its texture. I’ve made the sauce both with and without yogurt, and it’s good either way. Most recipes suggest stirring in the yogurt a tablespoon at a time, but I usually just dump it all in at once and stir madly to incorporate.
  • Traditional recipes suggest adding the eggs near the end of the cooking process (step 9 above). They tell you to spoon some sauce over the eggs and allow them to warm in it. In my opinion, however, this doesn’t add anything to the final flavor. It’s easier to add the eggs as a garnish at the end.
  • For a great vegan side dish, just omit the yogurt and the eggs. I actually prefer the vegan version of this recipe (it has better balance), but it’s nice with eggs and yogurt, too. I think it would also be interesting to add tofu near the end of the cooking process (step 9). I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ll bet this could turn the recipe into an excellent vegan main dish.

Vegan sweet potato curry in tomato sauce in two ramekins
Vegan Version

A Good Egg

Most of the annual hard-boiled egg consumption at the Kitchen Riffs household used to take place around Easter.  Every year we’d dye eggs (writing silly messages to each other with a crayon before plopping them into dye-filled tea cups).  During the rest of the year, we’d occasionally boil a few eggs if a recipe required them, but that was it.

More recently, though, hard-boiled eggs have become one of our refrigerator staples.  I cook up a batch every week.  I’ve found that fresh fruit and a hard-boiled egg makes a great breakfast.  And they’re tasty in chef’s salads.

Having them on hand all the time does make the ritual Easter egg-boil a bit less special, though.  To compensate, Mrs. Kitchen Riffs has volunteered to hide the breakfast boiled eggs from me, so I can have a weekly egg hunt.

I don’t think she’ll actually carry through on her threat, however.  All in all, she’s a pretty good egg.

Sweet Potatoes in TOmato Curry Sauce with Hard-Boiled Eggs

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baobabs said...

YUM! thanks for sharing the recipe

Kitchen Riffs said...

Hi baobabs, thanks for your comment. Hope you enjoy the dish.