Last week I celebrated 17 years of living in the United States. I took a moment to reflect on my journey from a naïve, innocent and unworldly young woman who had just graduated from college to my life now as a wife, mother, daughter and, I hope, relatively decent professional working in the field of education. I don’t think I would change anything…good and bad….they’ve all been the incidents that have made me what I am today!!! Now that I’ve finished with my little piece of introspection, let’s move onto food…shall we?? When I first moved here, I was amazed to see that they had a whole channel dedicated to food!!! Even though the shows mainly featured traditional American foods and a whole lot of meat and potatoes, I was hooked! There were a few Latin food shows and once in a while there would be a show featuring Padma from Top Chef. Food blogs were not yet a thing!!! I sound so old. ……but this just shows how fast things change!!!
Anyway, when spicy foods began featuring on shows more and more cuisines around the world became more accessible, I was addicted!!! Then while watching Food Network star I saw Aarti Sequeira and I was impressed…here was a woman who was doing exactly what I was doing…fusing Indian food and the spices I use everyday with other cuisines and integrating to everyday life in America. One day I succumbed and bought her cookbook. That’s where I came across this recipe…. Indian Style Sweet Potato Latkes. I’ve always been fascinated with Latkes…as a cuisine we use a lot of potatoes in many different ways and I’ve always thought that there would never be a potato preparation that I would not like………I didn’t like latkes. I think it was the fact that there was no spice and it’s served with applesauce, which I am not a fan off, sealed the deal!!! Her recipe, which I initially
rejected, …has spices and sweet potatoes, which I like, and it’s a riff of the Indian version of tempura..Pakoras. I can never leave anything alone so I of course tweaked it further to suit my family’s needs but I will now eat latkes if its anything like these!!!
Shredded sweet potatoes with sweet red onions, earthy ginger, aromatic cardamom, a hint of anise with fennel seeds and fresh cilantro…my mouth waters when I think about it. Turmeric gives it a bright hue while cayenne gives it heat and chickpea flour gives it a nuttiness that takes me back to eating pakoras on a rainy afternoon in India with a hot cup of tea, talking to my mom, dad and sis. Simple days and simple pleasures, which I treasure! I served it with Greek yogurt, green chutney and tamarind chutney ala chaat
….delicious roadside eats found in food carts on every corner in India. Smallest A, however, loved his with ketchup….yes, ketchup, albeit s a spicy one. …apparently ,we Indians cannot even ketchup alone!!!
INDIAN STYLE SWEET POTATO LATKES
1 medium size sweet potato peeled and shredded ½ cup thinly sliced red onion 4-5 cardamom pods, seeded removed and crushed ½ tsp. fennel seeds ½ tsp. cayenne, depending upon taste ¼ tsp. turmeric 2 tbsp. minced fresh ginger 1 Thai green chilli minced ¼ cup cilantro finely chopped Salt to taste 1 – 1 ½ cups chickpea flour Oil, for frying Greek Yogurt, for serving Green chutney, for serving Tamarind chutney, for serving Before you peel and shred the sweet potatoes, slice the red onions, place in a strainer and place in a bowl filled with water and ice cubes, for 15 minutes.This removes the astringency of the onions and leaves them sweet and flavorful. Place the shredded potatoes in cheesecloth over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for 5 minutes. Drain and add the onions to the potatoes. Squeeze the bundle over the sink,removing as much excess liquid as you can. Transfer to a bowl. Add cardamom, fennel seeds, turmeric, cayenne, ginger,green chilli, cilantro and chickpea flour. Mix well. Add just enough water to bind it together.I usually use sparkling water as it makes an airy batter but plain water works just as well. Heat a skillet over medium heat with a ¼ inch layer of oil. Preheat the oven to 200F to keep latkes warm. Using an ice cream scoop, mound the potatoes onto the skillet. Lightly flatten using a spatula. Leave plenty of room between the latkes. Fry till the first side is golden brown. Turn them over and flatten slightly again. Fry till second side is golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in the oven. Repeat using remaining batter. Serve warm with yogurt and the chutneys.