stashing the sweet potatoes, in curry-in-a-hurry

sweet potato curryTHE PUMPKINS AND ROOT CROPS AND POTATOES in the barn said, “That’s enough of this nonsense, Margaret” yesterday—enough of sitting patiently in there as they have since harvest earlier in the fall. Nights are in the 20s, and the barn’s getting too cool. But where to stash them all safely now? A new fast, freezeable vegetable curry recipe to the rescue, this one featuring sweet potatoes.

First, the disclaimer: This is only the second batch of curry I have ever made, after a lesson imparted just weeks ago from a friend. I am no expert, but it’s easy, highly adaptable in flavor according to your hand with the spices, and it sure does taste good. If you are a professional chef, please no laughing; I offer this to encourage other curry wannabes to just suspend fear and try a potful as I did.

Also please note: What follows is more guide than precise recipe. I cook by feel and taste. The amounts below yield about one-third of an 8-quart stockpot (what I think of as a spaghetti pot) of finished curry, so prep an appropriate amount of vegetables. If you like a finer texture, dice accordingly; I like chunky (and too-fine dices don’t hold up as well after cooking, freezing, and reheating).

Before committing to a jar of each, I purchased small baggies of the various spices in the bulk section of my health-food store; Indian groceries have the best selection of all, along with condiments like chutney. Or you could just buy “curry powder” or paste, but where’s the fun or full fragrance in that?

Sweet Potato Curry-in-Hurry

Vegetables (enough to fill 8-quart stockpot less than halfway when raw), to include:

Peeled sweet potatoes, cut into chunks or discs depending on size of tubers
green peas (half a bag if frozen)
green beans, 1-inch pieces
mushrooms, such as white button or Crimini, about 2 cups cut up
large onion, diced
1 to 2 bell peppers, diced (red makes for a festive accent)
olive oil to coat pan generously

start with ½ teaspoon each of:
chili powder
garam masala
black pepper

start with 1 teaspoon each of:

salt to taste
(for hot curry, additional red pepper beyond what’s in the chili powder can be added)
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 cloves garlic, coarsely cut into chunks
1 Tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
half bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped

plain yogurt, about 1 cup
vegetable broth, about 1 cup

Prepare vegetables, tossing sweet potatoes in a bowl with the cumin powder.

Heat olive oil in pan and gently sautee onions; remove.

Add more olive oil to pan; sautee cumin-coated sweet potatoes until just beginning to be tender (covering pot between stirrings).

Add other vegetables in order of their cooking time, hardest to softest, adding your spices gradually as you continue to sautee the growing mixture. Put cooked onions back in.

Add the yogurt and the stock. Add ginger and garlic. Simmer until done (I was patient for about an hour, then ate some). If you need more liquid, don’t hesitate to add a little more stock and yogurt. If you want to adjust spices, now’s the time. Add the cilantro leaves in the last few minutes of cooking.

Serve over brown rice and dress with raita (yogurt laced with ingredients like grated cucumber, chopped mint, lemon zest and cumin) and sweet mango chutney.

Notes: If you are going to freeze this, undercook to allow for reheating. Meaty mushrooms don’t freeze well, so perhaps plan to incorporate them at reheating time.

Also, don’t cook vegetables thoroughly during sautee phase, as there is the long simmering once liquid is added. (I let peas and beans cook in the liquid, adding them raw at that point, for instance.)

Keep in mind that the flavor while cooking isn’t the final flavor, which will evolve (spicier, more complex) over the next day or so. I take out the cinnamon stick before freezing, and I don’t freeze any till the flavors mellow after a day or two in the fridge.

Now on to turn those winter squash and the rest of the greens and such into vegetable stock…

  1. Jenni in KS says:

    I’ve printed the recipe and am looking forward to making it soon. It looks and sounds absolutely wonderful. There’s just nothing like the smell of a good Indian curry cooking on the stove. Why don’t they put *that* in a Yankee Candle?

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Jenni, and thank you again for reminding me not to just cook and eat it, but to photograph and post it. I get hungry, and distracted. Yes, how hilarious would that be: a scented candle to simulate a pot of curry bubbling away. See you soon again here or on Twitter. :)

  2. Bee Balm Gal says:

    Yum! How good that will be some dark January night. The tastes and smells from sunny exotic lands, warming your home when all is drear here in wintery upstate New York…
    Lucky you!

  3. Sharon says:

    I grew up loving curry, and it was always the “birthday dinner” I requested from my mother. She’s a dutch girl from Iowa, but somehow learned to serve us the most amazing, diverse food. No one else in my small-town neighborhood ate curry, oysters, beef tongue, etc. Thanks for reminding me to go make some curry!

  4. Johanna says:

    Mmmm, I love curries! Another one to try at season’s end is green tomato-potato curry. Similar process, I use coconut milk instead of yogurt there. Add some dried fruit. Num num num!

    1. Margaret says:

      Hello, Erica. Great idea; I think we will be making some sweet potato-turkey curry at T’giving in these parts. Now first we have to find someone with some leftover bird to share…

  5. Patricia says:

    What a great winter recipe. I am looking forward to making it. I wonder if you could also make this in a crock pot? It would be a great Sunday dinner after a day of tiding up the yard!

  6. Genevieve says:

    That looks very tasty! I’ve never made a curry with yogurt before but I’ll have to try it. Maybe next week with my second pumpkin.

    I made an autumn curry as well with my Halloween Pumpkin (I carved a sugar pumpkin so it’d be tasty!). Recipe here:


    I love autumn foods, and curries are great because the spices get your blood flowing well. As a pro gardener, I found I’d get frostbitten toes in my early years, till I discovered if I ate curry for breakfast with a spicy chai tea it kept my blood flowing good – no cold toes! Turmeric and most of the curry spices aid blood flow.

  7. Patti says:


    I just finished reading your notes of reflection. I can’t remember how I found your blog and website, but it is the BEST site I have ever come across. Thank you for your reflections, motivation, receipes, insights and shared love of gardening.

    I guarantee I will be reading all winter. No doubt it will be what keeps me going!

  8. Mary Jane says:

    Thank you for helping send tap roots down in my life as a gardener. I, too, left the fast lane early (ending 7th year out). And as Maya Angelou said “wouldn’t trade nothin’ for my journey now.”
    I know the book will be wonderful; you live and write so well.
    May the winter be magical; for you, Jack, all fuzzies and crawlies.
    Thankfully, we’ll be there in the Garden with you,
    Mary Jane
    PS the curry looks beautiful

  9. chigal says:

    Mmmmmm…I’ll have to come back to this one in January (when I’ll really, really need it).

    This is by far the most generous gardening website I’ve found yet. Thanks!!

  10. Lisa says:

    I never entered the fast lane, growing up I thought I would, but when the time came I opted for a slower existence. My family is all there zooming along, but I live in a small town, I walked my two girls to school this morning, then walked down the hill to my job “downtown” :). I have an 8 minute walk home for lunch. I listen to the birds, cross the bridge, look for the heron at the falls, have tea at lunch. Never have I looked back and thought to myself that I should have chosen the fast lane. I have a great life, and you have to chose slow, even in a small town you can run out of control.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Lisa. A beautiful story and really good advice, too. Thank you. The heron comes to say hello here, too, a solitary hunter always looking for his next opportunity. See you soon here again, I hope.

  11. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for sharing the recipie, I tried it tonight and it was so yummy! The perfect meal on a cool autumn evening and healty too, thanks!

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Stephanie. I am relieved/thrilled that I didn’t poison you. :) I am no chef, so my recipes are always more inspiration than road maps, and I am glad this one got you to a good place anyhow. I love the curry; have a stash in freezer and have eaten yummy meals from two batches here as well. See you soon.

  12. Michele says:

    This looks wonderful! Thank you for sharing it! I just found your blog and I really love it. So thank you for sharing all of it as well! :)

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Michele. I am defrosting a portion overnight in the fridge for tomorrow’s supper. It’s my new favorite thing, and next batch I will experiment with the ingredients (I wonder how chick peas would be w/green peas and sweet potatoes?). Glad you found me, and don’t be a stranger.

  13. Michele says:

    Thanks Margaret for the welcome. I think it would be wonderful with chickpeas and I bet it’s much better after it’s set in the freezer. I can’t wait to try it. If I do, may I link the recipe to you on my blog? I know a few of my friends who would love it as well!

    Thanks so much!

  14. Dawn says:

    I love, love, love curry and just made this dish to be served for dinner tonight and am letting it sit throughout the afternoon so the flavors meld. The house smells fabulous and I couldn’t resist eating a little bit. I doubled the chili powder, cardamom and garam masala spices with delicious results. Yes, chickpeas would be a nice “meaty” contribution. I will try that next time. Thanks for sharing such a great recipe, Margaret.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Dawn. You are now my new favorite best-friend. :) Glad you doubled the spices (I did, too); I was afraid people might get overwhelmed, but I like it bigtime with the flavors. So I was cautious. Hope to see you here soon again.

  15. janet mavec says:

    hi margaret- i am so excited to read your new book- can not wait to have it in my hands. love your site too
    in the meantime, can you talk about how to grow brussel sprouts- roasting Union Square -bought ones has made me want to grow them. For New Jersey, when do you sow the seeds? do they need fertilizing etc.
    we miss you at wave hill janet

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Janet; nice to see you. Thanks for all the encouragement. As for Brussels sprouts, I started mine from seed in a 6-pack in April as I recall, and set them out here about 5 or 6 weeks later. They grow into shrublike plants, so leave room. One issue that I have had some past years is with insects pests (like all the cabbage relatives get) but not this rainy year. To prevent such things, you can grow them inside a floating row cover, but as I say they get so big eventually that’s not so practical. Johnny’s has a very good variety, ‘Diablo,’ and also growing instructions in more detail (click the tab on the bottom right of their page). I enrich my vegetable beds with organic ingredients periodically but don’t feed my plants specifically; these big plants appreciate fertile soil and also even watering (they loved this year). See you soon.

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