This recipe comes close to being a hummus, if it were not for the absence of chickpeas or any other type of bean. Whether you consider this a sweet potato dip, spread, hummus, or mash … it’s still something that showcases a Jamaican-inspired way to prepare this ever-so-versatile root vegetable. I’m not Jamaican but I love the country’s food. And as Neo-Soul food enthusiast, I’m constantly seeking different ways to prepare sweet potatoes and this time its with a more global perspective using curry, tahini and scotch bonnet peppers.
Of course you could use any blend of curry, but I constantly praise Jamaican curry for its use of allspice (Jamaican pimento), more amounts of turmeric, and it typically has a warmer/lighter flavor than the more popular curry blends from India. Missing from Jamaican curry are some of the harsher spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and cardamom. You can also use it as a sauté base like I do in my sautéed cabbage.
For this recipe, I basically swapped out chickpeas for sweet potatoes and added in a few other things as a result of watching so many episodes of Chopped. At the time I didn’t have any chickpeas, but I had some nearly-empty jars of tahini. I also had way too many unused packages of candied ginger … a spicy/sweet no-brainer ingredient to enhance the sweet potatoes. Also, a carton of scotch bonnet peppers had been lingering in my fridge after only using two while making Rainbow Plant Life’s Vegan Gambian Peanut Stew (Dodoma) recipe. All of this goodness was at my fingertips just waiting for this sweet potato dip to be made.
Pickle the Scotch Bonnet Peppers
When you make this, prepare these pickled peppers at least a day or two ahead of time. When pickled and finely chopped, the scotch bonnet peppers help lift this recipe by bringing a subtle crunch to every bite of this dip. Along with the chopped pickled ginger your palette will enjoy the varying textures.
Sometimes, scotch bonnets are sold as bunches in a plastic carton, but you really only need to use one or two at any given time. When faced with an abundance of any spicy pepper, simply store them in vinegar in a tight-fitting jar, and keep them in the fridge. The intensity of the peppers will mellow over time, and you can also use the infused vinegar in other recipes like I do with tabasco vinegar in my sautéed collard greens.
Ingredientsfor sweet potato dip
- 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2 cups diced)
- 1/3 cup pickled ginger, chopped
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 heaping tablespoons Jamaican curry powder
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons diced pickled scotch bonnet peppers, plus 2 tablespoons scotch bonnet vinegar (see above)
- juice of 1 lemon
Instructionsfor sweet potato dip
- Peel and dice your sweet potatoes into sizes resembling chickpeas.
- Fill a medium pot half-way with water and a dash of salt, and bring to a boil. Add the diced sweet potatoes and chopped pickled ginger. Boil until sweet potatoes are soft. Pour the boiled sweet potatoes into a colander over a medium bowl, reserving the liquid. Set aside the liquid and sweet potatoes.
- In a skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer. Add the onions and thyme sprigs and cook until onions are translucent, approximately 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, another minute or two.
- Lower the temperature to medium (so you don’t burn the curry powder). Stir in the curry power to evenly distribute the spices throughout the oil and onions, allowing the spices to bloom for about 2 minutes. If the curry/onion mixture seems too dry, add some splashes of water so the curry doesn’t burn. Pour this curry, oil, onion and garlic mixture into a small bowl to be sure it does not cook any longer. Discard the thyme.
- In a food processor, combine the pickled scotch bonnet peppers, sweet potato/ginger mixture, curry/onion mixture, chopped scotch bonnet peppers, scotch bonnet vinegar, and tahini. Pulse until everything is well blended. It will be quite thick and pasty, so gradually add the reserved boiling liquid until a hummus-like texture is achieved … approximately 1/2 cup.
Of course, you can vary all of these amounts to you liking, but you have all the tools you need for some sweet potato dip success!
Yield: About 6 cups
What to Eat This With
For a plant-based appetizer spread, try use this sweet potato dip alongside my Blackeyed Pea Dip with Roasted Garlic. Feel free to dip some veggies, chips, pita, or fried green plantains (aka. tostones). Also spread it on sandwiches or incorporate this in with a salad or grain bowl.
The Curry Clean-up
I can’t just leave you all hanging … I confess that curry is messy. So, the ONE precaution with cooking this recipe is the cleanup. No matter how careful you try to be, yellow-stained fingers, appliances, utensils, and counters are quite common. There is little way around it. However, you can minimize the problem by taping down parchment paper on your counter, laying down newspaper, wearing gloves, using a disposable dollar store rubber spatula.
Definitely have some bleach water with rags on deck ready to clean up right after you use something because the longer curry stain remains on your surfaces, the more stubborn they will be to clean up. Scrape the dip from the food processor ASAP into a glass bowl … just be quick with it. When all is said and done, I always end up bleaching my countertops.