This quick and easy Thai style sweet potato curry is quite different from the usual sweet potato dishes. Cooking the spices and aromatics first flavors the oil, which then infuses the whole dish. Smashing and tying the lemongrass stalk bruises it, releasing its distinctive flavor into the curry.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole, unbroken, dried chilies, or to taste (See Ann's Tip)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 to inch fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
4 sweet potatoes, (about 2 -pounds) peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small stalk lemon grass, smashed and tied into a tight bundle
1 (14 to ounce) can lite coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (optional) or salt, to taste
Juice of ½ a lime
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1. Heat the oil in a wok or large sauté pan over a medium-high heat until it ripples. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves and chilies and cook until the cloves swell and pop and the chilies turn dark, about 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and fresh ginger and fry, stirring gently until the garlic begins to turn a pale gold color.
2. Add the sweet potatoes and onions and stir-fry until the onions have softened and begin to brown, about 5-8 minutes. Add the lemon grass, coconut milk and fish sauce or salt.
3. Cover, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
4. Discard the whole spices and lemon grass. Stir in the lime juice and taste for seasonings. Stir in the chopped cilantro. Turn off the heat and let the curry sit for 1 minute then serve with rice of your choice.