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Fenugreek and Sweet Potato Curry

This is an adaptation of a friend's fenugreek chicken recipe. His fenugreek chicken, back when we were living in South Africa, was the first time I ever had fenugreek and the memory of it is what then pushed me, back in Switzerland, to try to get a hold of some for myself. I knew so little about ti at that point though that I wasn't even aware that there were fenugreek leaves, seeds and ground fenugreek. When the friend who eventually sourced it for me and picked it up asked me which I wanted, I had no idea, so she got me all three. I made the chicken again and then launched into my own exploration of the spice. This recipe is more or less faithful to his original recipe for the chicken but simply vegetarian, replacing the chicken with sweet potato and carrot (I do have his permission to post). The substitution worked well but obviously altered the end result. Both vegetables are quite sweet, so the emphasised the cinnamon in the recipe and the sweetness and warmth of the flavours. It also ended up a little different as I used rehydrated Kashmiri chilis instead of green chilis for the simple reason that my local grocery store didn't have any chilis available, so I used what I had on hand. This resulted in a warmer, less acidic heat. Both of these made for an excellent new dish, but I would change at least one of the vegetables and cut down on the cinnamon a little next time if I wanted something closer to the original dish but that is still vegetarian. I am sticking with my friend's units of measurement here, firstly because they are excellent, and secondly as a tribute.


2 sweet potatoes, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

1/2 head of garlic, grated

medium chunk of ginger, grated (my friend's recipe specifies 1.2 inches)

4-6 green chilis, finely diced

1 - 1 1/2 medium onions, chopped

40% tsp of turmeric

40% tsp chili powder (I used tandoori powder as my other chili powder is too hot for Little Bit)

1 1/5 tsp salt

3/5 c dried fenugreek leaves, rehydrated in enough boiling water to cover them for 30 minutes prior to use)

30-50g butter

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 1/5 - 2 bay leaves

1 1/5 tsp cumin, heaped, like Everest

1 tsp coriander, heaped, like Mauna Kea

30% tsp cinnamon (I think I accidentally did closer to 50% tsp this time. oops!)

1 tsp dried thyme, optional

Drizzle of cream

1) Heat oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Throw in onions, salt, and bay leaves and sweat until just beyond golden, stirring occasionally. Add ginger, garlic and chili. Stir for another minutes.

2) Add remaining spices and stir. Add the fenugreek leaves and some of the rehydration water. Stir.

3) Spread the onion and spice mix out over the base of the pan then place the sweet potatoes and carrots on top and stir. Add butter and thyme. Add a little more tumeric if it all looks a little pale. (the original directions were to do so if the chicken looked like a polar bear, but even under-turmericked sweet potatoes don't look very polar bear-esque...)

4) Once the sweet potato and carrot have had a chance to sauté a bit, add the rest of the water and let it reduce to only a thin coating. Cover, and stir every few minutes.

5) Once the sweet potato and carrot are tender, add black pepper until you can taste it and drizzle over the cream.

6) Serve over rice, and cover when not dishing. If the dish dries out it is nowhere near as tasty. Add more water, butter or pepper as needed.

This was a very tasty dish in its own right, but quite different to the original (which I will have to make again soon). This one will stick around as a veggie alternative I think, but they are quite different dishes at the end of the day. A simple substitution this wasn't in the end, but still thoroughly worth doing. The remnants in the pan which didn't get packed away immediately quietly disappeared of their own accord, which is always a good sign...

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