I was wandering in the market from one end to another, checking each stall and the prices stuck between the vegetables and fruits.The display of that week's produce at the farmer's market in the Bay area is a delight to watch: Red, ripe tomatoes, bunches of Swiss chard, spinach, cilantro,potatoes, artichokes, celery, oranges, apples, melons. Innocent fresh flowers reminds me that the spring has arrived but the smashing rainfall for the last two days confuses me further.
When my organic food lover friends described their food tastes fresh, I didn't understand their statement. But once I started shopping at the local farmer's market and cooked them in a week's time, I understand what freshness is all about. I have been quite regular to the Farmer's market these days and have made good friends with our local farmers who are growing great food. Sometimes, they offer couple of veggies for free. The vegetables and fruits that reach the supermarket after endless trucking and shipping across the world doesn't taste fresh to me these days. Hence, one of the resolution we made for this New year was to cook with local and seasonal produces and support the small scale farmers. We have altered the way we eat, this practice that taught us what good taste is all about.
The mild orange skinned potatoes looked so attractive in the farmer's market today. Sweet potatoes are always in my shopping bag, whether I bake, fry, boil or grill them, my family loves it. California grown varieties are extremely sweet and delicious. Every week we won't miss a chance to buy it. Always choose firm ones with no cracks or bruises on it. They are also rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C,potassium, copper, folic acid and vitamin B6. See, now all the more reason to eat this sweet delight.
Boiled sweet potatoes was one of my favorite snack during my school days. My mom would just pressure cook it, peel its skin, mash the flesh and serve it in a bowl. I am not sure whether kids of the present day would enjoy the same old boiled sweet potato every other time you serve them.
I came up with this dish: SWEETY NUTTY NUGGETS (Sweet potato nuggets cooked with Indian spices and cashews) served with a mayo-yogurt dip. The seductive sweetness from the sweet potato mingles brilliantly with spicy peppers and garden fresh cilanto-mint leaves. The addition of aromatic Indian spices takes the dish to the next level. The sharp crunchiness from the roasted cashews and red onions further enhances its taste and also the use of Panko (Japanese breadcrumb) creates an extraordinary crispy coating to the nugget. The zesty, creamy dip is the perfect accompaniment for this flavorful snack. All this qualifies them to be an ideal kid-friendly dish. Once served, it will disappear in no time. I am sure even the adults would love its taste: simple and crunchy-licious.
Yields: 30 nuggets
2 small sweet potatoes ( about 1- 1.2 pounds)
1 small red onions - diced
1 Serrano peppers - chopped (de-seed)
1/4 cup cilantro - finely chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves - finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup roasted cashews - chopped
Olive oil to fry
2 cups Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
For the dip:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro - finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Wash and clean the sweet potatoes and prick them with a fork. Rub with oil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until soft or cut them in to half and cook in a pressure cooker for 3 whistles .
2. Once cooled, peel the skin and combine sweet potatoes, onions, cilantro, mint leaves, corn starch, spices, cashews and salt in a large bowl and mash with hand. Cover with a cling foil and refrigerate until well chilled.
3. Place eggs in a shallow bowl and beat briefly with a fork. Place panko in another shallow bowl. Set them next to each other.Scoop up a tablespoon or so of the potato mixture and shape into a nugget or ball. Dip into beaten eggs and then into Panko. Line them in a baking sheet ,with 1cm spacing between each of them.
4. Whisk together the Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. Chill the dip until you fry the nuggets.
5. Heat oil to 350 - 375'F. Deep fry the nuggets until they turn golden brown. Place them over the kitchen towel and drain the excess oil.
6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Set nuggets on a parchment-lined baking sheet and spray lightly with olive oil or cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until nuggets are lightly browned and crispy.
Serve immediately with the chilled dip. Enjoy!
PS: I always prefer to deep-fry them.