The Wonder Spice
Recently, turmeric took top position in the ingredient-of-the-moment hit list when it suddenly leapt to prominence due to the emergence of it’s overwhelming health giving abilities, which make it an all round super-spice.
Before reading about this, I was primarily aware of it’s abilities to instantaneously stain anything it touched yellow, along with it’s presence in pilau rice and other Indian dishes I’d cooked. I once had a go at making turmeric milk and have to say I found the end result slightly underwhelming, in fact I wasn’t any where near being whelmed at all and I’m not even sure what being whelmed feels like, regardless of being under or over it. In fact it doesn’t even sound very pleasant, if someone said in conversation “I got whelmed last night”, I imagine my response would be “oh dear, are you ok?”.
Anyway. As for turmeric the über-spice, some googleification will quickly tell you that it’s a fantastic natural warrior against a multitude of cancers and their manifestations due to it’s active ingredient curcumin. It also helps fight Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, improves eye health as well as aiding weight loss, helping to fight depression, improving sleep plus doing the washing up, hoovering and putting the bins out for you. Quite impressive really.
As if that’s not enough, another important factor is that when used appropriately, it really does taste fantastic, I suspect that my earlier forays into turmeric milk were simply too short lived and under-researched to really hit my gustatory sweet spot. I’ve since tried a couple of turmeric based recipes which showed me that when appropriately balanced, it can be a shiningly zeitgeisty star ingredient.
Hence I treated myself to a new bag of the spice when making this latest recipe, because I think new packets of spices always taste fabulous when freshly opened. I’ve also just found a slightly ramshackle shop near me which is stocked with what might be the largest selection of spices this side of the Andaman Islands. It’s partly due to this discovery that I added an optional pinch of Asafoetida, otherwise known as Hing, to this recipe, it’s a spice that’s not as well known but is great addition to spiced vegetarian food and a great digestive aid. When paired up with turmeric, these two spices are so powerful they could probably negotiate world peace.
The recipe itself was borne out of a few requirements. I wanted to create a simple vegetarian dish that I could easily make in one pot, which would also multiply up for batch cooking, which required very little prep and featured a load of turmeric. Basically, a dish that I can make on Monday night and then forget about cooking dinner for the rest of the working week. I’m glad to say I hit the jackpot on all fronts and have been quite enamoured with the spicy yellow hot pot that emerged from the stove, it’s a warm, rich and sweet dish which is finished perfectly with the peanut topping. Enjoy!
Turmeric Sweet Potato Wonder Pots
By Gavin Wren
Uses a pot and a pan
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida (optional)
1/8 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
35g ginger, peeled and chopped (a large thumb-sized piece)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
Approx 450g sweet potato, skin on, chopped into 1cm chunks
400g tin black eyed beans, drained and rinsed
150g dried red lentils
400g tin coconut milk
1 heaped tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
50g plain peanuts, roughly chopped
Add the ginger, garlic and onion and fry for a few minutes until softened. Add the sweet potato and black eyed beans, stirring them around until all well coated with the oil and spices, then cook for another couple of minutes. Add the lentils and mix in well until everything is combined and covered with the spice mix.
Next, add the coconut milk and then refill the tin to the brim with water (making sure you get all the last bits of milk off the inside of the tin) and pour that in as well. Add the thyme and stir it all together, then turn the heat to high.
Bring it to a boil uncovered, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Then cover with a lid, lower the heat again and leave to simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it dries out too much, add a little bit more water (quarter of a can at a time), aim for a thick consistency.
Heat a small pan over a medium-high heat and add the peanuts. Move them around occasionally until browned, then remove from the heat and set aside.
Serve into bowls and sprinkle with toasted peanuts, then serve.