Sweet potatoes. It’s hard to tell if they’re a filling side dish or a dessert treat to enjoy after the meal. One thing is for sure though: The holidays wouldn’t be the same without them! And yet, there’s some room to play around with them. The holidays might not be the same without sweet potatoes, but that doesn’t mean sweet potatoes have to be the same! This tasty side dish employs some Sri Lankan spices and techniques to turn classic mushed and candied sweet potatoes into something exotic and exciting!
In Sri Lanka, sweet potato dishes may go by Sinhala or Bathala, but they tend towards savory applications. Bathala is particularly interesting as it reminds one of American country-skillet potatoes fried with onions, except this version is done with sweet potatoes and green onions and well seasoned with Sri Lankan spices. Today though I’d like to focus on an original preparation, another cool East-meets-West fusion dish that would be just as at home beside a Christmas goose as it would at a Sri Lankan themed dinner. Here’s what you’ll need for these Sri Lankan sweet potatoes
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 1 tbsp pureed ginger
- 1 jalapeno or other chili pepper, minced, plus one more left whole for garnish if desired
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp hot curry powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup roasted cashews for garnish
- green onion, optional
How to Make Sri Lankan Inspired Sweet Potatoes
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a large baking pan with some butter to coat it to avoid sticking. Reserve the rest of the butter for later. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, salt, pepper, curry powder and turmeric. Add the sweet potatoes, jalapeno, onions, and garlic and ginger puree and toss to coat. Place the sweet potato mixture in the prepared baking pan and roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, but not overly soft, and develop a pleasant color.
Allow the potatoes to cool a bit before serving and garnish with the chopped cashew. You could also add some sliced green onion and a whole chili pepper on top as a garnish to let people know this is a different preparation that has a little spice to it, especially if you’re putting it out as a dish at a party.