October 06, 2016
I've always had a love-hate relationship with Sweet Potatoes, shakarkandi in Hindi.
On the one hand, I know how good they are for us - high in beta-carotene and Vitamin A. On the other, they're intimidating to cook. Baking takes at least 45 minutes. Boiling means they are water logged and tasteless. I needed a better way.
My go-to food bible, The World's Healthiest Foods by George Mateljan, had the solution. If you don't have this book, get it - every food is in here with basics on nutrition and optimal ways to cook and preserve nutrients along with delicious and easy recipes.
The recommendation to peel, cube, and then steam for 7 minutes was perfect and got me excited about sweet potatoes again. It was at once easy and delicious, especially with a simple vegetable steamer basket.
My goal here was to take these now beautifully-cooked bright orange beauties and incorporate them into the Indian flat bread my kids love to eat for a nutritious and healthy go-to snack - a paratha.
A paratha is an Indian roti, unleavened flat bread, stuffed with veggies and spices. They are cooked on a tava, or griddle, with a little oil towards the end. They don't puff up like a regular roti and are absolutely delicious. For more on making them, pick up a copy of my third cookbook, Indian For Everyone. There are step-by-step pictures for making roti on page 234, and recipes and instructions on paratha on page 236. I promise I'll post step-by-step pictures soon.
I perfected this recipe after the fourth try. The key is to ensure you cool off the sweet potatoes completely after steaming them so that they don't 'melt' your flour. I also made sure my spices enhanced rather than conflicted with the naturally sweet flavor profile of the sweet potatoes.
Remember, peel, cube, and then steam for 7 minutes. Done, done, and done!
Add your chapati flour into your food processor, then the spices, and then the cooked and cooled sweet potato. Process this until it's well blended. Doing this first gives you a better idea on how much water you'll need to pull it all together. I just love the orange color popping through.
Sweet Potato Indian Flat Bread
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 cups chapati flour
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons red chile powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup water
1. Steam the sweet potato for 7 minutes. Remove to a plate and cool completely. This step is very important, or the steam will soften your flour.
2. In a food processor add the flour, spices, and sweet potato. Process until smooth.
3. Add water and process until you have dough. Remove to a deep bowl, and knead a bit more.
4. Pull off small balls of dough about a tablespoon in size, roll out in your hands, and then roll each ball until round and thin, about 6 inches in diameter. They will resemble tortillas. Use a little dry flour to prevent sticking.
5. Place on a hot griddle or Indian tava. Heat the first side for about 30 seconds, flip over. Cook about a minute, and then flip again. Cook until lightly brown on both sides. Use a little oil around the edges of the paratha.
6. Stack them and eat with butter and Indian pickle, or achaar. These are great stacked and then either refrigerated or frozen. It's a great after-school snack for the kids.
For authentic parathas, look for chapati flour. Every Indian grocer carries it, a finely stone ground flour made from durum wheat. If you can't find it, use whole white wheat pastry flour. Or, mix 1 part regular whole wheat flour with 2 parts all-purpose flour.
This fall, the paperback version of my third book, Indian For Everyone will be released in perfect time for Diwali and the holidays. Get yourself a copy and if you live in Chicago, come to an event! I'd love to meet you. Our big one is on November 5th, Scotch and Kabobs in Lincoln Park. I'm cooking!