I realize the conflict of cooking from a book called The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends for this column, especially during a busy week. But this sweet potato and tamarind curry can be completed in less than an hour, which more than qualifies as a Dinner Tonight-able recipe. Plus, it's hard to think of a more satisfying, flavorful dish that comes together this quick.
Instead of using a pre-made curry paste (which can be quite delicious), the recipe calls for blending up your own. This sounds a little difficult, but it's basically as easy as tossing a bunch of fragrant ingredients into the blender and pressing a button. The paste is then cooked in a huge pot, then coconut milk is added.
After that step, all you basically do is add everything in and let it cook. But what comes out is slightly spicy, complex, and perfect for the cold weather.
- Yield:serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:1 hour
- For the Curry Paste
- 4 jalapeño chiles, stemmed
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 3 large shallots, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- For the Curry
- 2 lemongrass stalks
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 3/4 cups coconut milk, divided
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about two), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
- 6 leaves escarole or curly endive, cut into thin shreds
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves or regular basil leaves
- 2 fresh red chiles, stemmed and thinly sliced
For the curry paste: Combine the jalapeños, ginger, shallots, garlic, and salt in a blender and puree until smooth. You may need to add a couple tablespoons of water to help it blend.
For the curry: Trim the ends from the lemongrass, and remove the tough outer stalks. Finely chop the stalks and set aside.
Pour the canola oil into a large pot set over medium heat. When hot, add the curry paste. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Pour in 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and stir well. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the fat starts to separate from the coconut milk, about five minutes.
Add the sweet potatoes, fish sauce, lemongrass, tamarind paste, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk. Stir well. Add just enough water to barely cover the sweet potatoes. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, and then reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer with the pot uncovered. Cook for 15 minutes, and then add the escarole. Continue simmering until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 10 more minutes. Season curry to taste with salt.
Serve the curry in bowls, and garnish with basil, sliced red chiles, and lime wedges.