Yams are a staple crop for much of the world. Not to be confused with the sweet potato, they come in a variety of sizes and colours. This dish uses white yam which you buy by the piece in the market. It has a thick skin and creamy white flesh, and when cooked it has a floury texture that soaks up flavour well.
This is a great curry: the yam is cooked in buttermilk thickened with ground peanuts, and dasheen leaves are added for colour and texture. You could just as well make it with sweet potato or squash and spinach instead, or use yoghurt instead of buttermilk. I often serve it with steamed rice.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and lightly fry the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds for 30 seconds. Add in the chopped onion, garlic and chillies and cook for about 5–6 minutes until they soften. Stir in the cubed yam to coat with the spices and oil. Add the curry leaves and some salt and black pepper, and then fry it all gently for 2–3 minutes to infuse the flavours.
Pour in the buttermilk and stir for a minute or two as it warms. Sprinkle in the ground peanuts a tablespoon at a time and stir well. Do not to be tempted to add more peanuts at this stage even though it looks runny: the sauce will thicken as it cooks. Add the sugar at this point if you prefer a less sharp taste from the buttermilk.
Simmer the curry with the lid on for 10–12 minutes or until the yam can be pierced with a fork and the sauce is thick, but still spoonable. Add the chopped dasheen leaves, stir through, and cook for 1–2 minutes with the lid on until the dasheen leaves are wilted.
Serve with steamed rice or rotis.
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