Chile Lime Sweet Potatoes with Spinach Clove Yogurt; Photo - Danielle Sucher

This simple vegetarian dish is exquisitely flavorful, with all the small touches coming together to make something marvelous. The sweet potatoes are, well, sweet. But in this dish they also become tart and spicy, and the yogurt raita is richly flavored with roasted rice powder and a final touch of freshly infused clove oil stirred in at the end. Full recipe after the jump!

(Adapted from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey.)

Sri Lankan Sweet Potatoes with Cardamom and Chiles
(Adapted from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey.)
2 very large sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
3 whole dried hot red Indian chiles, broken into halves
2 whole cardamom pods
1 3" cinnamon stick
20 fresh curry leaves
3 big onions, thinly sliced (about 1 1/4 lbs.)
Crushed hot red chiles to taste
Salt to taste (approximately 1 1/4 tsp finely ground)
At least 1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (and probably plenty more)
Safflower oil for frying

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into bite-sized chunks. Boil up a pot of water, salt it a bit, then add the sweet potatoes and boil for about 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain and set aside.

Put some safflower oil in a large pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the halved chiles and stir. Once they darken (which will happen fast), add the cardamom and cinnamon. Stir for a few seconds, then add the curry leaves. Stir for another few seconds, then add the onions.

Brown the onions to taste - not too dark, because the sweet potatoes add enough sweetness, but dark enough for good flavor.

Stir in the sweet potatoes, and stir fry for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the crushed chiles, salt, and lime juice. Lower the heat and continue to stir and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender enough to serve.

Remove the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick and adjust the seasonings before serving.

Serve hot.

Yogurt with Spinach and Cloves
(Adapted from World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey.)
4 whole cardamom pods
1 1" cinnamon stick
8 whole cloves
1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 2 oz.)
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, peeled and thoroughly crushed
10 oz. fresh spinach, trimmed, washed, drained, and coarsely chopped
2 C plain thick yogurt
Ground cayenne, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Safflower oil for frying
1 tbsp raw basmati rice

Put about 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. When very hot, add the cinnamon, cardamom, and 4 of the cloves. When they sizzle and expand (fast!), stir in the onion and fry until they just start to brown around the edges, about 3 minutes or so.

Stir in the garlic and ginger for a few seconds, then add the spinach and about 1/4 tsp finely ground salt.

Continue stirring and cooking for a few minutes, until the spinach is fully wilted and tender and tasty. Turn off the heat, and pick out the whole spices and discard them.

In a separate, dry pan, cook the raw rice over medium high heat until it turns reddish brown, stirring constantly. Let it cool, then grind it to a fine powder.

Put the yogurt in a large bowl and stir with a fork until creamy. Stir in 1/2 tsp finely ground salt, and black pepper and cayenne to taste. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp of the ground toasted rice powder. Stir in the spinach.

In a clean pan, heat 1 tsp oil over medium high heat. When hot, stir in the remaining 4 cloves until they sizzle and expand. Just before serving, remove the cloves and stir the clove oil into the yogurt.

Serve cold.