Spicy Sweet-Potato bites!


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One of my earliest memories of sweet potatoes (Shakarkand, Mishti Aaloo or Aluaa) is from my occasional winter visits to my grandmother’s home in Bihar. Sweet potatoes were found in abundance in the winter months. Bonfires made with wood were common in almost every corner / street. Given the lack of heating equipments then, these bonfires were the perfect social setting for some tea, conversations and food along with the much needed warmth for those extremely chilly winter evenings.

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Sweet potatoes are common food at these casual, unpretentious gatherings. Someone will usually carve out some of the burning amber coloured wood and cover the sweet potatoes in them to let it slow roast. This can take up to an hour to cook. When cooked, the skin becomes very crisp. It is then peeled and dunked in milk with or without sugar and is absolutely delightful for sweet potato lovers. At other times, sweet potatoes are also cooked in the wood fired mud ovens (choolha) that is common in rural India. The other simpler way to cook them is by boiling them in water, peeling them and then seasoning it with some salt and Teesi as part of a regular meal.

If you haven’t grown up with this, you might find the idea strange. R, who spent a number of years in Delhi, finds his peace in roasting and spicing up these tuberous roots. It makes me realize how important it is to try different kinds of food in the early years of life. The food that we eat, especially as children creates memories, forms and shapes how we remember and associate life events and people as we grow up.

I must admit though that I never had a strong liking for sweet potatoes (primarily because of its sweetness) until I became a mother. I strongly believe children should be exposed to different kinds of food from an early age. It helps them to have an open mind about food as they grow up. In practice, I take it as an opportunity to nurture my own creativity in the kitchen and make some interesting meals for the family.

These bite sized cutlets make for a great appetiser to kick start any evening.

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For this recipe, I boiled the sweet potatoes until cooked yet firm. I wanted to create a flavour combination that would tone down the sweetness of the sweet potatoes while incorporating savoury, tangy and heat in the right intensity. The first time I created these was when I was trying to make something new for little V’s snack box. I also wanted to make something that was bite size, just the right size so that he can use his fingers without making it too messy.

To print this recipe, click here.

Yield: About 40 mini / bite size sweet potato cutlets

Ingredients:

Sweet Potatoes: around 500 gms
Onion: 1 cup, finely chopped
Teesi: 3 Tbsp (See recipe of Teesi here)
Lime juice: 2 Tbsp (start with 1.5 tbsp and adjust to suit your taste)
Coarse Rice powder: 3 Tbsp (you can replace this with fine semolina instead)
Finely chopped coriander leaves: ½ cup
Finely grated ginger: 1 ½ Tbsp
Roasted cumin powder: 1 ½ Tbsp
Chilli powder: 1 tsp
Black pepper powder: 1tsp
Finely chopped green chillies: 4-5 (I used Thai green chillies)
Rock salt: ¼ tsp
Salt: to taste
Ghee to pan fry the mini cutlets (replace with your regular cooking oil if you prefer): You will need to spread a tsp (or less) of ghee in the skillet. As you cook the mini cutlets, you can use an oil brush or the back of a spoon to touch the surface of the cutlets with ghee/oil. When pan frying the next batch, use a little less ghee, just enough to have some oil lining the skillet.

How I did it:

  1. Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly. Slice each sweet potato (skin on) into 2 or 3 big chunks. I used a pressure cooker to boil until steam forms (one whistle). Remove from heat and let it cool down until all the steam is released.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Shock the boiled sweet potatoes in ice cold water. Peel the skin. Grate these into a large enough bowl.
  4. Add all the remaining ingredients listed above.
  5. Using your fingers, mix all the ingredients together making sure the spices (masalas) are uniformly mixed. It doesn’t matter if the sweet potato loses the grated texture. Sweet potatoes have been cooked but are still firm and will retain their texture when we shape them into mini-cutlets. The important thing is to mix this well to ensure every cutlet has the flavours uniformly spread across. Taste and adjust the salt, spice and tangy taste according to your liking. The best way to do this is to pan fry one mini-cutlet first and taste it. I believe the taste alters with the cooking process therefore this step is highly recommended.
  6. Shape the mixture into bite size cutlets – about an inch to 1.5 inches in diameter.
  7. In a skillet, heat about a tsp of ghee (Just enough ghee to wet the skillet) Place the mini-cutlets in the skillet, and cook on low heat until crispy on the outside. As I do not use much ghee in the skillet initially, I like to brush the cutlets with a little ghee on the outside during the cooking process. This helps to give a nice golden color.
  8. Serve with coriander chutney or a coriander-mint chutney (click here for recipe) or chilli sauce.

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Notes:

  • The green chillies are an absolute must in this, if serving for adults. Adjust to your tolerance. I skipped it when I made it for V.
  • I added Teesi which made it healthier obviously. If you do not want to make Teesi, you can replace it with a tsp of roasted coriander powder and 1/8 tsp of chilli powder instead. The flavour will be different but good, nevertheless.
  • I used Vietnamese sweet potatoes to make this, as it is readily available here. The Vietnamese sweet potatoes have less moisture than many other varieties. I found it easy to shape and pan fry.

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Beet root, potatoes and peas tikki / cutlets

It has been many months since my last post. A friend rightly pointed out that it’s that perfectionist attitude in me which is causing this inertia – I want the food to be perfect and the photographs to be styled and taken well (to the best of my ability!) However, to get all these things together, requires a lot of time and patience. With an extremely active 3 year old in the house, time is one luxury I don’t have.

As a result, I have been cooking and experimenting at home but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to post anything for the past few months. I feel a little selfish at this point so I definitely owe you all an apology. Many of you have been supportive over these past few months of silence – either by checking on me or by just by being connected through images that I have been posting on my facebook page (http://facebook.com/sublimepalate). A big thank you for that and sorry for being MIA.

So, I have decided to give that perfectionist in me a sorta break..  And post recipes and stories .. even though sometimes the pictures may not be perfect.. the recipes may…  – NO,  be rest assured – there will be no compromise on that front!:-) These photos are taken from my phone, so please excuse me if they aren’t nice enough.

So, starting off again, here’s a recipe of a healthy snack, I read on one of my favorite blogs, sinfully spicy.  This is a great snack for kids and adults alike! I took a portion of the tikki mix to make 3 tikkis for V. To the remaining portion, I added finely chopped green chillies.It is inspired by Tanvi’s beetroot tikkis. Ever since I saw that, I just had to make it! So for Tanvi’s recipe, check : http://sinfullyspicy.com/2012/06/27/beetroot-tikki/

Thank you Tanvi for this amazing snack! 🙂

Here’s how I made it:

MAKES 8 tikkis / cutlet:

You’ll need:

Beetroot: 1 medium sized
Potato: 1 small sized
Peas: 1 cup. Boil if using fresh. I used frozen peas and microwaved with a tiny pinch of salt for 2-3 mins to soften it so that it’s easy to mash.
Onion: 1 small size (or roughly 1/2 a cup of finely chopped onion)
Ginger: 1 small pc (adjust to your taste)
Garlic: 1-2 cloves
Green chillies – 2-3
Black pepper powder – 1 tsp (preferably coarsely powdered)
Bread crumbs – 4 heaped tbsp. (If you don’t have bread crumbs, use a slice of bread. Gently soften it by sprinkling a little water and mashing it separately first and then adding it to the mix).
Semolina (Suji) – 3 tbsp or more for coating the tikkis.
Oil – 1-2 tbsp.

Preparation:

  1. Boil the potato so that they are cooked but firm. A little undercooked is fine but mushy potatoes may not bind the mix that well.
  2. Finely chop onions, ginger, garlic and the green chillies.
  3. Finely grate beetroots. Squeeze out the juice by hand. Drink the juice (It was yum .. I strained it and had it without adding anything. But I think a squeeze of lime should go very well). Anyhow, coming back to the grated beetroots, keep it in aside and move on.
  4. Peel and finely grate the boiled potato. If you are brave, try grating it while it is hot! Just kidding – DON’T ! I almost burnt my palm. The inside of the potato retains a lot of heat so it’s advisable to take a little break and grate them when they have cooled off.
  5. Mash the softened peas.
  6. Start working on the next step (mixing) only before you need to make the tikkis. The salt releases a lot more moisture and makes it difficult to bind.
  7. In a mixing bowl, add the grated potatoes, beets, mashed peas, onions, ginger, garlic, bread crumbs, black pepper powder, chaat masala & finally the salt. Gently combine this mix without mixing it too much! The more you mix, the more moisture gets released and your tikkis won’t hold together.
  8. Make small cutlets / tikkis with this mix (oval or round shape can work). With this quantity, I ended up with 8 tikkis.
  9. In a flat plate, keep the semolina. Very gently press the tikki on the semolina mix to coat the tikki with the semolina.
  10. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a non-stick pan. I fried about 3 per batch in a small non-stick pan. Add more oil when frying the next batch, if needed. Make sure the oil is hot before you add the tikkis. On low heat, fry the tikkis for a few minutes on each side until crisp on the outside. Be gentle when turning the tikkis. If the heat is low, cook for a little longer to get a crispy outside while making sure the inside is cooked.
  11. I had these with my go-to green chutney!

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.