Sweet potato curry

After having a very nice vegetable curry at Bluebird Bistro on our recent trip, I was determined to recreate something similar at home. I’ve made various forms of curries for many years, but generally relied on the crutch of manufactured curry paste. This time, I decided to ditch the paste (which we were out of anyway) and create my own spice mix, based on the abundant varieties of on-farm peppers we dried this year. These have an amazing, strong flavor when used in a spice mix, but I have no idea if store-bought ones would be as potent, so you may want to experiment if that’s what you use.

It’s a good winter recipe, relying on well-storing items like leeks and sweet potatoes, and easily frozen items like peas, though obviously you could use fresh ingredients at other times. I don’t have a photo, but this came out wonderfully and was quite easy to make. The amounts are estimates, as I didn’t take notes while making it. On-farm ingredients in italics.

4-6 dried anaheim peppers (4″ long)
2 dried jalapenos
1/4 cup chopped dried bell peppers
2t coriander
1t cardamom
1/2t turmeric
1/2t annato seed (a Filipino spice)

1.5 lb sweet potatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick
2 cups snow peas
4 small leeks, chopped into rounds 1/4″ thick
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 14oz can coconut milk
1T soy sauce

To make the spice mix, roughly chop all the dried peppers with a knife, then place in a food processor with a sharp blade. Blend for as long as it takes to shatter these into a powdery mix with a few stubborn chunks remaining. Meanwhile, grind the other spices with a mortar and add to the processor when you’re almost done. Warning: the pepper powder/dust is pretty strong and will have you sneezing if you’re not careful. The aroma is delightful, though.

Meanwhile, bring the coconut milk to a simmer in a large saucepan and add the sweet potatoes, leeks, garlic, soy sauce, and spice mix (you might start with half and see how the flavor develops, as my estimated quantities are just that). Simmer, stirring now and then, until the sweet potatoes are almost soft. You may need to add water if there isn’t enough liquid to cover everything. A few minutes before you want to eat, add the snow peas so they cook just enough; you don’t want them reduced to mush.

Serve over rice or noodles.

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