When we think about aromatic curries, Indian food is usually the first thing that comes to mind. To achieve a flavor similar to our favorite Indian restaurants, many of us turn to our spice cabinets and reach for curry powder. This sweet potato curry utilizes those powerful spices.
Would it surprise you to know that curry powder isn’t actually Indian? It’s a spice blend concocted by 18th century British colonialists who were set on capturing the dominant flavors of Indian cooking in one convenient rub. Curry powder is usually made with a mix of turmeric, coriander, cumin, dried chiles or black pepper, and fenugreek or mustard seed. Authentic or not, the combination of these spices packs loads of flavor and health benefits.
Daily dose of beta-carotene
Sweet potato and squash aren’t authentic to Indian cooking, but they do make a hearty base for a vegetarian curry on the 21-Day Clean Program. Sweet potato is high in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and keeps us feeling satisfied between meals. The root vegetable is also loaded with iron, calcium, and vitamin C and provides most of our B vitamins – including folate and B6 – which the body needs for energy. We also used butternut squash in this curry dish for its versatility and the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants it has to offer.
Healing and detoxifying fermented turmeric
To boost the healing properties of our Curried Sweet Potato and Squash, we used fermented turmeric in our homemade yellow curry paste. Fermented turmeric contains all the benefits of traditional turmeric with the added bonuses of better bioavailability, increased nutrition, and easier digestibility.
The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties. On its own, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. Curcumin is fat soluble, so consuming it with healthy fat, such as the coconut milk in this curry, can increase absorption and help us enjoy the full benefits.
Curried Sweet Potato and Squash
For the rice:
1 cup black rice (or brown or wild rice)
4 cups of water
For the curry paste:
1 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 tablespoons curry powder
½ teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon water
For the vegetables:
1 tablespoon coconut oil
½ sweet onion, diced
2 cups sweet potato, diced into cubes
2 cups butternut squash (or another type of squash), diced into cubes
1 14-oz. can coconut milk
½ teaspoon salt
2 big handfuls of fresh greens
¼ cup cilantro, chopped, for garnish
¼ cup cashews or pistachios, chopped, for garnish
If you’re serving the curry over rice, start cooking it now. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Add the rice and return to a simmer. Lower heat to low and cook the rice, covered, for 50 minutes to 1 hour. When the rice is tender, drain and return it to the pot.
To make the yellow curry paste, combine the garlic, ginger, turmeric, curry powder, coriander, cayenne, and salt in a bowl. Drizzle in the coconut oil and water. Stir to combine and adjust flavors to taste.
To make the sweet potato curry, heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add curry paste followed by the sweet potato and squash and stir to coat the veggies. Pour in the coconut milk and reduce heat to low.
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the curry is thick and the veggies are tender. In the last minute of cooking, season with ½ teaspoon of salt and add the fresh greens. Cook and stir until the greens are wilted, another minute. Remove from heat.
Divide the rice between four plates or bowls. Top with a scoop of curried sweet potato and squash and garnish with fresh cilantro and nuts.
Recipe and photography by Kate Kasbee
If you like this recipe, you might also like Reduce inflammation with turmeric chicken soup