Sunday, November 20, 2016

Yam Curry For A Thanksgiving Surprise
By Marilyn Michael

Yam Curry
I love it when my husband lets his humorous imagination stream away. My more left-brained mind thinks and writes in a more linear way. I thought I’d open this post by sharing some of his thoughts on Thanksgiving below, written some years ago for a food column he authored called The Galleyman. And since Thanksgiving is here, I’ll follow his thoughts with an Indian-inspired delicious and interesting twist on those old marshmallow-topped yams.  

Thoughts on Thanksgiving by Hank Snyder…
Wow! (Or Mom! in dyslexic) was that a fast year. It was just the other day when my wife said, write something special for Thanksgiving. She says the same thing every year. How many times can you tell someone how to cook a turkey? I have cooked one about every way possible. I’ve written about the year my friend cooked the turkey in a vat of boiling oil and about burned the house down. And, I never told you about the year my sister decided to cook it in the microwave. It looked good until you put a fork in it and it went POOF! Very interesting, Poof The Magic Turkey. Who would have thought--turkey saw dust!

Can you name the Indian tribe that celebrated Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims? The Wampanoag. (No relation to that mechanical “Winnebago tribe” out of Iowa.) And, hey what were the Pilgrims really eating anyway? The only thing for sure on the menu was venison and wild fowl. The most detailed description of the First Thanksgiving comes from Edward Winslow from a journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1621.  The real shocker was when I read that lobster; seal and swan were on the menu. I can see it now, “Honey, what is this writing on the tape around this bird’s neck? Trumpeter Swan? Is that new a brand of turkey?

Did you know how the Canadian Thanksgiving began? The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada when Martin Frobisher, an explorer from England, arrived in New Foundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the new world. That means the First Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. What would the Wampanong think if they knew the Pilgrims were copycats? Wow, all this detective work is making me hungry.

I hope you enjoyed my husband’s trip through Thanksgiving history, now onward to yams! Through my hobby of cooking Indian cuisine, I’ve discovered it's a country that does amazing things with vegetables. I feel like an alchemist creating Indian dishes. The aromas are so compelling, often, my neighbors saunter over to see what I'm cooking (we live on a boat so it’s a short saunter). I've made this Yam Curry twice. The spices blend together and when you take a bite it's subtly sweet, savory and addictive.

You can purchase Indian spices in bulk (small amounts) at many natural food stores. In Seattle, Puget Sound Consumer Coop stores have most of them. I keep a little of a lot of them in a separate Rubbermaid container on hand for my experiments. Many Indian dishes freeze very well.

Yam Curry for a Thanksgiving Surprise
Yields: 6

1 pound sweet potatoes, or yams (I use 3 large yams)
1 teaspoon salt (to sweat the yams)
1 large sweet onion, chopped coarsely
1 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil to shallow fry potato chunks
2 inches fresh ginger root, grated (I use a teaspoon prepared ginger paste)
3 garlic clove, chopped (or ready chopped garlic)
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil (for frying onion, garlic, ginger, tomato mixture)
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
2 green cardamom seeds (seeds removed)
4 whole peppercorns
2 inch cinnamon stick broken in half
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili powder or use cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt to taste
1 large tomato chopped (or 8 oz. canned diced tomatoes)
4 tablespoons plain yogurt or sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves chopped,  (for garnish)

Place all the dry spices, except cumin seeds, in a small dish ready to add.

Peel the yams, cut them into 1 inch cubes, place in a colander and sprinkle liberally with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand 10-15 minutes, then rinse and drain.

While potato chunks are sweating, finely chop the onion, ginger, and garlic, and roughly chop the tomatoes.

Heat the 2 to 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil over a medium heat, add the cumin seed. When they begin to sputter, add the chopped onion, ginger, and garlic. Cook until the onion is a rich golden color.

Add all the dry spices and season with salt to taste. Cook a few seconds more, and then add the tomatoes. Let this cook on a very low setting while you continue as below.

Heat about ¼ inch of oil for shallow frying the yams. Cook the yam cubes, a few at a time, until golden brown turning with tongs. Drain on paper towels. Pour out oil and set potatoes aside

Add the yogurt or sour cream to the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato mixture. Cook until the oil begins to separate out.

Add the water and bring to a boil. Let boil a few minutes, then add the yam cubes, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with the chopped cilantro.

I took it to my sister-in-laws as replacement for the traditional sweet potato/yams at Thanksgiving and it got raves. (If somebody "must" have marshmallows, dish up a serving and nuke it with a couple marshmallows on top.)