Welcome to the 4th season of Pan Asian! I never figured that this little exercise in opening my own food horizons would last this long, and garner such a loyal following. So thanks to all of you readers and viewers, and everyone who has checked out my blog and YouTube channel. If you like what you see, please spread the word because I do this strictly for the love of food and cooking, and not for the love of money.
The beginning of a new year is ripe with possibility because this is the time that we normally take stock of things, and make resolutions to better ourselves, exercise more, and eat healthier. There’s nothing more empowering than setting a positive agenda to follow, and sticking to it. With that said, I thought I’d kick off the new season of Pan Asian with a dish for everyone, whether you be carnivore, vegetarian or vegan. Sweet Potato with Fenugreek leaves is a tasty dish that takes little or no time to make, and it’s actually good for you as well, so you can’t lose.
It uses one of my favorite ingredients–fresh curry leaves–as well as an ingredient I do not use that often, fresh fenugreek leaves. Although fenugreek itself is a legume, its sprouts and leaves are used as vegetables, and its seeds are used as a spice in Indian and Sri Lankan cooking. But we Sri Lankans never use the leaves, so this a new application for me. Fenugreek leaves, which are available at any Indian store, have a slightly bitter taste that plays well with the sweetness of the sweet potatoes. The chili and mustard seeds also combine to create a very well-rounded flavor consistent with the ancient Indian system of Ayurveda, which defines a balanced meal as one combining all the tastes–sweet, salty, sour, spicy, bitter, and astringent. According to Ammini Ramachandran, who supplied the recipe, fenugreek slows the absorption of sugar in the stomach and stimulates insulin production. It is also supposedly helps lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels and helps with digestive problems. So what are you waiting for? Please indulge!
(adapted from Ammini Ramachandran)
1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & diced
2 cups fenugreek leaves, removed from stems
2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon dry-roasted and crushed cumin seeds
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon grated ginger
salt to taste
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cayenne powder
1.) Heat ghee/oil in a saucepan at medium heat and add mustard seeds. When the seeds start popping, stir in cumin seeds, curry leaves and ginger. Fry for a minute and then add the cubed sweet potatoes. Stir well, reduce heat, cover and cook.
2.) After 5 minutes add salt, cayenne and turmeric powder and gently stir. Cover again and cook for 10-12 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.
3.) Add fenugreek leaves, stir, and cover the pan. Cook until leaves wilt—about 5 minutes.
4.) Remove from stove and serve immediately with rice or Indian breads.