Saturday, 21 September 2013

Jerk sweet potato & black bean curry

I am always on the lookout for easy, interesting, and preferably cheap meat-free meals. As well as making our budget go further, I think it's a good idea to eat less meat for environmental reasons too, but as much as anything I think it's good to mix things up and try a wide variety of foods.

This is (guess what) another BBC Good Food recipe. It caught my eye in the magazine as part of a "cook for a group of 10" article, but I usually halve it and make four decent portions. It sounded good to me as a combination of things we already eat often (sweet potato, pulses), things we're less familiar with (jerk seasoning, ready roasted peppers), all in an easy one-pot recipe. It's become a firm favourite!

  • 2 onions, 1 diced, 1 roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 50g ginger, roughly chopped
  • small bunch coriander, leaves and stalks separated
  • 3 tbsp jerk seasoning (I'd use less the first time you make it, until you find a balance between the brand of jerk you use and your own taste/tolerance - I found it pretty intense first time)
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes (I use a whole can, less some of the juice, even if halving the recipe)
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes, made up with 600ml water
  • 1kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 x 400g cans black beans, rinsed and drained (in some supermarkets these are in the "world foods" section (Jamaican), for some reason, rather than with the other canned pulses)
  • 450g jar roasted red peppers, cut into thick slices (these freeze well if halving the recipe. Of course, you can roast and skin your own if you have time!)
Whizz together the roughly chopped onion, the ginger, coriander stalks and jerk seasoning, and set aside. In a jug, combine the vinegar, sugar and stock.
Soften  the diced onion in oil, and when it starts to become translucent add the jerk mix. Fry "until fragrant", about 2-3 minutes, and then add the stock mix, tomatoes and thyme. Bring to a simmer and then leave bubbling for about 10 minutes to get the flavours well combined.

Drop in the sweet potato and simmer for 10 minutes or until the chunks are starting to become tender (might be longer - you don't want them crunchy!). Add the peppers and beans, and simmer for 5 minutes more. Chop the coriander and stir in just before serving, saving a few leaves for garnish.

We serve it with rice or tortilla wraps, or just a larger portion with no accompaniment, and plain yogurt on the side. I've slipped a few chopped green beans in when there have been some to use up, and they're a good addition. Butternut squash also works in place of sweet potato, but needs to be simmered for longer than 10 mins. Black beans work very well but you could probably substitute any pulses if you can't find them - I haven't tried others yet. This is one of those "even better the next day" recipes as the flavours really do their thing overnight in the fridge.

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