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Curried Sweet Potato Pancakes

Makes 15 cakes; serves 5
On one of my first trips to India, at a bus stop in Poona, there was a street stand where the vendor was roasting potatoes over charcoal, chopping them, and tossing them with curry spices and crispy onions. He served the mixture wrapped in a piece of newspaper. It was amazing, and it inspired this dish.

There are so many curry spice mixtures from around the world. This recipe employs one of the most common. You can use either yams or sweet potatoes in this recipe.
Published in Gourmet Live 08.08.12

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 to 3 white onions, chopped (4 cups)
  • 2 1/2 pounds red yams or sweet potatoes, grated (4 cups)
  • 5 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Combine the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, fennel seeds, and ginger in a small bowl. Stir well to blend.
  • In a large sauté pan set over medium heat, heat the 1/4 cup oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are caramelized to a golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the spice mixture. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes to toast the spices. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add the yams, flour, egg, and salt, and mix well to combine. Form the mixture into cakes that are about 3 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick, and put them on a baking sheet.
  • Set a skillet over medium-low heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Working in batches, sauté the cakes for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. They are done when they are a crispy golden brown and the sweet potato is cooked through.
  • Serve warm, topped with the yogurt and scallions.
* Black mustard seeds: Small round seeds of the black mustard plant, these are much more pungent than white mustard seeds and used extensively in Indian and other Asian cooking.
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