Sometimes, a tasted flavour or dish leaves this longing so deep within you, that you need to (at the very least) attempt to replicate it. Lucky for me, after tasting these treats at a friends house, she forthcoming-ly shared the source of the recipe, and as fortune would have it, the same recipe book features in my personal collection. As does his other recipe.
Now given these coincidences and the obsessive desire to eat the sweet savoury buttery spicy nutty potato cakes, it was just a matter of time before I got around to getting my hands dirty and bringing the dough together, embellished with bright emerald chunks of spring onions.
I also found that the recipe was pretty much exact when it came to the proportions and seasonings, resulting in tasteful wonder. At several occasions (despite my obsession with her), I have found that a lot of Nigella Lawson’s recipes just don’t work. And, just to defend myself before any fingers start pointing, I follow them to a T.
It is so gratifying to follow a recipe that works, because it inspires a sense of confidence in the author, and more importantly, in yourself. The alternate results can range from hating the kitchen to ordering take out on a regular basis. Eeks.
Before we go any further, I wanted to sorta mention that Joie De Vivre’s 4th birthday this year just passed by, and at this juncture I feel that I owe a thank you to all my readers and supporters. It has been hard for me to change my regular corporate lawyer routine, and spend nearly 2 weeks learning how to code and re-do the website, as well as dedicate a lot more thought and care to Joie De Vivre as a whole. The entire process has been gratifying and a learning process for me, which has been truly fulfilling. So, thank you all, for reading and following. It makes it more worth my while to know that I am sharing this with you.
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Back to these cakes. They are really easy to make, with just a teensy bit of chopping and mixing. Most of the work is done by the natural flavours of the main ingredient: sweet potato. Its natural texture, depth of flavour and consistency mean that apart from a few pantry staple seasonings (basically, soy sauce + salt + pepper) and some fresh red chilli and green onion, bound together by a bit of flour, and you’re good to go! It works well to prep this ahead of time, and just cook it till glistening and burnished on either side, when ready to serve. The yogurt sauce also can be prepared up to a day ahead of time, making this a handy appetiser while entertaining, as well as a hearty snack for that mid-evening carb craving.
In every scenario, they work! The recipe uses one kilogram of sweet potatoes, which yielded 28 cakes, each about 2-2.5 inches in diameter and less than an inch thick, which are a convenient size to cook and serve as finger food. If you do increase the diameter or thickness, cooking time will obviously vary (duh).
- 1 kg sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 tbs soy sauce
- 2 small red chills, seeded and chopped (adjust to taste and hotness of chilli)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp coarse pepper
- 1/2 tsp caster sugar
- 1 spring onion, chopped
- 100 gm greek yoghurt (or hung yoghurt)
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs lemon juice (or 1/2 tbs lime juice)
- 1 tbs chopped coriander
- salt and pepper, to taste
- plenty of butter, to cook
- In a pressure cooker with water in the lowest layer, cook the sweet potato chunks for 5-6 whistles. This should give you perfectly tender potatoes, almost soft to touch. If there is resistance, you will need to cook it further. Once cooked, drain out any water that may remain with the potato.
- While the potatoes cook and drain, mix together the ingredients for the sauce - i.e. yoghurt, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and coriander. Mix with a spoon till smooth, and leave in refrigerator to chill.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the potato, soy sauce, seasonings, green onion and chilli. Taste and adjust seasoning and chilli. Mix in the flour until you form a dough.
- Take roughly a tablespoon full and form spheres. Cover with a kitchen towel until ready to cook.
- In a small frying pan, melt a tablespoon of butter over medium heat until sizzling and browned. Gently press the spheres into discs (2-2 1/2 inch diameter X 3/4 inch thick) and cook in the butter for 4-5 minutes on each side, till burnished and golden. Press on kitchen roll to remove any excess butter. Repeat.
- Serve warm with the yoghurt sauce.
- One little tip: let the butter brown a tiny bit before searing the cakes. The browned butter gives off this almost nutty and aromatic layer to the cakes, which is identifiably awesome! I mean, it is brown butter we are talking about!