Those of you who know me will know that I love a curry. This vietnamese chicken and sweet potato curry is one of my favourites – once all of the ingredients are prepared, you just chuck them in the pot and leave it to cook. Once the sweet potato is soft, it is ready to serve. It also benefits from the addition of a small amount of caramel – sweetness is very good for relieving hot raw spices, and if I am cooking a curry that tastes too hot, I will generally add a teaspoon of sugar, leave it for a few minutes and then taste again.
Vegans can adapt this curry by using vegan fish sauce and chicken substitute.
I got this recipe from Ghillie Basan’s Vietnamese cook book, but I have added a few tweaks of my own.
One and a half tablespoons curry powder (I use Indian Madras curry powder – if you feel really adventurous you can make your own)
One and a half tablespoons garam masala
1 tablespoon turmeric
500g chicken skinned – thighs are juicier, but I like to mix thigh and breast meat (If you are vegan you can replace the chicken with Tofurkey chick’n pieces)
One and a half tablespoons brown sugar (any type)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 shallots (or half a red onion) chopped finely
2 garlic cloves chopped or crushed
4cm galangal (if you can’t find it, use ginger), peeled and grated (it will be mushy when grated)
2 lemon grass stalks (remove the outer fibrous leaves, cut the end off to reveal the white middle, keep about 3cm intact, and make 4 long slits in the other part then bash with a mallet or flat heavy knife blade to release the flavour)
2 teaspoons chilli paste (sambal oelek – or use a large dried red chilli)
1 medium to large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons fish sauce (use vietnamese nuoc mam if you can find it) If you are vegan use vegan fish sauce
600ml coconut milk
small bunch coriander chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. Mix the curry powder, garam masala and turmeric in a large bowl. Add the chicken and mix to coat with the dry spices.
2. Heat the sugar on a low heat with one and a half tablespoons of water, after a while it should dissolve and turn golden. Remove from the heat.
3. Heat a large wok and add the sesame oil. Stir fry the shallots (or onion) with the garlic, galangal and lemon grass until they smell fragrant and lovely. Stir in the chilli paste.
4. Now add the chicken with all of the dry spice mix (don’t leave any behind) – stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add the coconut milk, mix well. Then add the caramel, fish sauce and sweet potato. Rinse out the caramel saucepan with 150ml water, and add it to the curry.
6. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the chicken is cooked and the sweet potato is tender.
7. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the coriander. Remove the lemon grass stalks before serving.