Sweet Potato & Chickpea Curry

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My best friend makes this for Thanksgiving every year, but this year she was deep in roasting lamb, making brioche, and baking pies and brought the ingredients over with her recipe and said, “Here.” Well, not quite so peremptorily, but you get the idea. Knowing that her lamb is the most delicious dish that has ever existed on the planet, I was happy to help. Besides, my contribution was two pickled salads that I had made the day before so the brine could work its magic. This is a recipe that originates with Nigella Lawson and was printed in The New York Times years ago. It has been a tradition ever since.

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  • 2 med red onions, peeled
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 serrano pepper – don’t remove the seeds, you want the heat.
  • 2-3 inches of ginger, peeled
  • 3 TBSP canola oil

Chop onions, garlic, serrano pepper, and ginger. Sauté in canola oil over medium low heat for about 5 minutes until softened.

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  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 2/3 tsp turmeric
  • 3 cardamon pods, crushed
  • salt to taste

Add spices, stir and mix. Let bloom by heating so the aroma fills the room. This releases the aromatic oils so they infuse more flavor.

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  • 3 med sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 1 3/4 cup coconut milk (light) (1 can)

Add sweet potatoes and stir until covered by spices. Add coconut milk. Raise heat to medium and simmer.

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  • 1 TBSP tamarind paste
  • 2 1/4 cup vegetable broth (can use water if you don’t have broth)

Heat broth and stir tamarind paste in hot liquid until dissolved (You can use a microwave). Tamarin paste is super sticky, so you want to be sure it is completely dissoved in the hot liquid before you add it to you pan of simmering sweet potatoes. Keep simmering, partially covered for about 25 minutes. You want the sweet potatoes to be tender, but not soft.

  • 4 to 5 cups cooked chickpeas

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Add the chickpeas, stirring them into the sweet potatoes and making sure they heat through. Then remove.

  • 2 TBSP chopped cilantro

Top with cilantro when serving.

This is a warm, slightly spicy dish rich in the hearty, warm flavors of fall with the beautiful browns and oranges of fall as well. It is delicious, hearty, and a great substitute for the traditional mashed potatoes and gravy.  It is a huge meal, serving 12, or great for leftovers. It just tastes even richer the next day.

 

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Pickled Peppers

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I have my groceries delivered and sometimes the person packing my order makes a mistake as when I was recently sent 2 pounds of serrano chiles rather than 2 chiles. Oops! Well, I did cook with more serranos this month than usual, but there is no way I was going to use them all up before they spoiled, so I had to figure out what to do with them. I thought about making salsa, but just as I was about to do that, it occurred to me that some pickled peppers might be perfect. So here goes.

The pickling liquid is always a one to one ratio of water and vinegar. You only want enough liquid to cover the chiles so what I did to get the right ratio was add 1 cup of water, then 1 cup of vinegar, then 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vinegar until the chiles were covered. In this case, it took 2 1/4 cups of each. For a bit of deeper flavor, I used 1 cup of white wine vinegar in place of one of the cups of white vinegar. This is 4.5 cups of liquid  The ratio of salt and sugar is 1 TBSP of each for each 3 cups of liquid, so I used 1.5 TBSP of salt and sugar.

So the final recipe for this quantity of peppers (1.8 pounds)

  • 1.8 pounds of serrano peppers, cleaned and pricked with a knife, about 3 to 4 times for each pepper.
  • 2 1/4 cups of water
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 1.4 white vinegar
  • 1.5  TBSP of sugar
  • 1.5  TBSP salt
  • I added 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 TBSP white peppercorns
  • 1 TBSP black peppercorns
  • 1 TBSP rosemary leaves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

I put them all on to boil. Once it reached a rolling boil, I reduced heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Then let it cool, put it in containers with brine, covered and refrigerated.

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I can’t really tell you how it turns out for a week – after the flavor has had time to fully be a absorbed, so I will update when they are ready.

Update: After 36 hours, they are amazing! They have that combination of sweet, sour and heat that you associate with pepperoncini, but with with about double the heat.