I have been apprehensive of curries for a long time. I do not like curry. Rather, there is something in curry powder I do not like. A bit earthy, definitely spicy. I still haven’t figured it out. It may just be the chili pepper!
I enjoy Indian food, though, and bought 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer to help me conquer my fear of curries without the use of curry powder. I simply omit the peppercorns and add Aleppo chili flakes to my liking. :) Browsing through the cookbook, you realized this is a cookbook of authentic Indian dishes along with contemporary dishes with an Indian spin. And they are all considered curries.
The word “curry” doesn’t exist in the Indian vocabulary. Authentic Indian dishes do not call for curry powder, either! So what is a curry then? Iyer describes it as any dish which is simmered with a sauce/liquid with spices and herbs, which can be pretty much anything.
Hence why this dish is considered a curry.
And I didn’t even know it until after I sat down to eat it.
In my quest to find interesting ways to use my large bunch of kale (superfood #1), I stumbled upon a vanilla sweet potato and kale soup by KathEats. I adapted it by swapping some of the sweet potato for butternut squash. I inadvertently added more coconut milk (my can was 19 oz, but I think 14 oz is the standard size) and instead of using garam masala, I made my own spice blend, loosely based off of Lisa’s post.
This was supposed to be a soup, but it was too thick to be a soup and too saucy to be a stew (although it technically could be considered a stew since everything was stewing). In the end, we christened it as a curry due to its Indian-flavoured spices and use of coconut milk.
Regardless, this was delicious. DELICIOUS. It was sweet, savoury, spicy, and salty. It was hearty, yet creamy. It was filling. It was everything great. Just not a soup.
The sweet potatoes and butternut squash cook down to a sweet hearty broth, aided by a blender. Coconut milk permeates along with the sweet/spicy flavours of the garam masala – cumin, cardamom, cloves, coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg – with a kick from Aleppo chili flakes. I almost thought to leave this as a nice soup after blending it, as it tasted great. But I am glad I persisted, because the kale was a delight. Chewy and full of texture. The vanilla worked well and the raisins were like hidden treasures, sweet jewels popping up in every few bites or so.
I am sure this would still be nice as a thinned soup, but served with rice, the textures balanced out nicely.
Vanilla Sweet Potato and Kale Curry
2 pounds of sweet potato and butternut squash, combined – (I used 1 lb sweet potato and 1 lb squash), cut into 1” pieces
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can lite coconut milk (I used a 19 oz can, but you might get something more soup-like if you use a 14 oz can of lite coconut milk)
1 cup milk (or almond milk, or vanilla soy milk, if vegan)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Aleppo chili flakes (add more for more heat, this is pretty tame)
1/2 lb kale (4 packed cups), trimmed, washed and torn into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins
1/8 cup salted peanuts, for garnish
shredded coconut, for garnish
1. Cook sweet potatoes and squash in microwave on high for 6.5 minutes.
2. Heat a large pot on medium high. Spray with cooking spray and add potatoes and squash, cooking until they begin to brown. Stir in garlic.
3. Add coconut milk, milk, spices, salt, pepper and flakes.
4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Mash potatoes with potato masher or puree with immersion blender.
6. Add raisins, kale and vanilla and cover. Allow to cook for 8-10 more minutes, until kale is bright green.
7. Portion into bowls and garnish with 1 tbsp each peanuts and coconut. Serve with rice or roti.