Sweet Potato Curry with Coconut Milk and Macadamia Nuts

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Sweet potato curry with coconut milk and macadamia nuts.

Growing up, for reasons unknown, my family never ate sweet potatoes. It wasn't until I was 10 that I first saw the tuber. My grandmother had just arrived for a week-long visit. I sat at the kitchen table watching as she went about her routine, straightening the tablecloth, rearranging the the contents of the fruit basket and picking up wayward cheerios off the linoleum. Then she began unpacking her overnight bag, which always seemed to contain a small horde of random edibles, packed with care along side her nightgowns and "house shirts". The stash usually consisted of produce she bought on sale at the IGA or some strange variety of grandma food. You know, food that was once heralded during the depression, but to our generation, seems totally gross and bizarre. This time she revealed two large, bulbous sweet potatoes. Having not ever seen or tasted a sweet potato, I foolishly decided that it belonged in the gross and bizarre category.

My grandma is a frank little Sicilian woman, who is pissy as a fire ant when it comes to her convictions - mostly all of which seem to involve food. She taught me things like: Standing next to the microwave will eventually and definitely give me cancer. Very thin, young people are almost always on drugs and should be monitored closely. Vegetarianism is an injustice against America and God, reserved only for foreigners and dandies.

Equally stringent beliefs were applied to specific vegetables. Sweet potatoes, she explained flatly, should only be eaten with salt, pepper and butter. There was no mention of maple syrup and marshmallows or sweet potato fries. Since then, I've waited patiently beside many a microwave. I am thin and drug-free, most of the time. I was vegetarian for nearly 8 years. And now, here I am, making a curry out of sweet potatoes. That alone would probably send her to the moon.

Still, a small part of me hasn't let go of this sweet potato rule. I have never been able to handle the syrup drenched, mallow covered souffles traditionally served during Thanksgiving. Additional sweetener seems wasted on a vegetable, especially one that is already candy-sweet and delicious on its own. I'd rather save those grams of sugar and spend them on a root beer or a sack of M&M's, you know? Perhaps it is a mental block my grandma implanted in my brain years ago. Or maybe I've genetically inherited her palate, and it's just a matter of time before I discover my taste for grandma foods (Chicken feet? Never!).


I made this for Kurt, who greatly enjoys sweet potatoes this time of year, but is also disgusted by the insulin stopping casseroles frosted with melted marshmallows.

1 lb sweet potato
1 tbsp salt
1 small onion
Finger's length of ginger root
1 garlic clove
2-3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 can of chickpeas
1 cup macadamia nuts
1/2 cup roughly torn cilantro leaves
lime wedges
1 cup quinoa
  • Cook quinoa according to package directions.
  • Peel Sweet Potatoes and cut into 1 inch cubes. Place in a pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until sweet potatoes are tender and can be pierced with a fork, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, finely chop onion, ginger and garlic.
  • Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add coconut oil and coriander seeds. When the seeds begin to pop and sputter, add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until the onions are a rich, golden brown.
  • Add all of the spices and season to taste.
  • Return your sweet potato pot to the stove. Pour in coconut milk and water and bring mixture to a simmer. Add sweet potatoes, chickpeas, onion/spice mixture. Simmer covered for about 10 minutes, until the liquid cooks down into a thick, rich sauce.
  • Remove from heat. Stir in fresh cilantro and macadamia nuts. Serve over quinoa and garnish with lime wedges.


  1. i'm making mashed sweet potatoes right now! (however not quite as fancy as yours). it looks like a delicious recipe and i hope to try it out soon- thanks for sharing it!


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