By Madhulika Dash
Ah, Sweet Potato. What is there not to like about this Christopher Columbus’ gift – story has it that sweet potato was one of the prized produces that Columbus introduced to the Spain (and eventually the world)? It is sweet, can be had with minimal cooking (shakarkandi ki chaat, anyone?) and comes with a truckload of goodness that makes it one of the better spuds (to potato, at least) to gorge on.
In addition, it tastes great – whether you boil it or roast it. And considering that sweet potato is one of the oldest spuds known to India (and Asia) – turns out, India always had sweet potato – comes with its little folklore as well. Sweet potato in fact was one of the earlier flavourant used across Asia – and was carried by monks as sweet energy boosters. A popular tea -snack on the Silk Route, foodlore has it that sweet potato was in fact one of the earlier sweet food paste to adorn breads and fruit cake. Curiously, it was one of the winters’ speciality on the Grand Trunk Road too, where it would be roasted, seasoned and served to travellers.
Fascinatingly the trend of consuming sweet potatoes – boiled or roasted – dates to the Ming dynasty, and has a wide fellowship that travels to Japan. And a reason for the huge popularity is the versatility, which at one point of time made it a favourite of Shah Alam and even the coffee-loving Ottomans.
Here we get a few more ways to enjoy the sweet spud, before the winter ends.
ROASTED SWEET POTATOES WITH HONEY & BLACK PEPPER LABNA
BY: ARVIND KUMAR BHARTI, EXECUTIVE CHEF, AMUSE HOUSE
“The dish is inspired by the Middle Eastern staple, and is an ode to the interesting tart-sweet marriage of salty yogurt and sweet potatoes. It is a delicious way to explore this unique contrast and makes for a fascinating, filling salad.”
#ChefHack: to add more twist to the labna, add a few roasted nuts and pumpkin seeds.
SWEET POTATO AND ROLLED OATS PIZZA
BY: DOMINIC GERARD, EXECUTIVE SOUS CHEF, THE LEELA PALACE, BENGALURU
“Thanks to the spud-like nature of sweet potato, it makes for a brilliant binding agent – and this makes it an interesting hack to turn many dishes, more nutritional. Like this oat-sweet potato pizza. This pizza can be hand made by pulverising sweet potato and oats (eggs and oil are optional) and then flattening it with hand – much like you would in case of a cheese cake crust. Once half-baked sweet potato pairs brilliantly with a lot of fresh cheese, chillies and even slightly tossed vegetable and meatballs. Who says pizza cannot be healthy?”
#ChefHack: It’s a good idea to steam sweet potato to give it a bright orange colour.
SHRIMP & SWEET POTATO SOUP
BY: ASHISH BHASIN, EXECUTIVE CHEF, THE LEELA AMBIENCE GURUGRAM HOTEL & RESIDENCES
“This dish is inspired by the Silk Route’s favourite Sweet Potato bowl. Devised as a one-bowl meal for traders and travellers alike, this naturally creamy, bright orange, sweet-spicy soup made the perfect backdrop for a number of combinations – the best was the one with rice and meat (mutton or beef to be precise). Given the spud’s great paring with meat and seafood, this soup makes for a perfect winter meal. It’s warm, sweet and extremely filling".
#ChefHack: Try using stock – vegetable or meat – to give it a denser texture and flavour. And panko-coat-fry the shrimps for added
STUFFED SWEET POTATO WITH GOAN SAUSAGE MOUSSE
BY: KAPIL MUCHANDI, HEAD CHEF, THE FISHERMAN’S WHARF
“This is less of a dish and more of bringing two delicious things together: roasted, mashed sweet potato and Goan sausages. The sweet-earthiness of the sweet potato not only compliments that spices in the sausage perfectly, but also masques the vinegary taste that might be off-putting to some. Add a toasted poe to this combo and it becomes one of the popular Portugal breakfast.”
#ChefHacks Use hung curd instead of butter to add that creaminess to sweet potato.
BY: HARANGAD SINGH, CORPORATE CHEF, PRANKSTER
“Sweet potato by its nature is a versatile spud. It can be used in ways that even potatoes cannot. But the one way that this winter special is enjoyed most is as a chaat. Tandoori Shakarkandi is an ode to the good old version that was served on the Grand Trunk Road – and is still a sweet potato staple for many. What makes this an absolute favourite is the way it brings together other winter ingredient like the radish for crunch. the interesting use of mint chutney with a mix of aamchur and anardana gives it that nostalgic feel.”
#ChefHack: For best result, roast sweet potato wrapped in the foil. If oven-roasted, then coat it with a thin film of oil. Add salt only towards the end for better result.