It's officially soup and stew season for us. How about where you live? Our first major snow fell last weekend and the air temperature is consistently frigid. But if that was not sign enough, there are other clues. Ski resorts have opened, Christmas markets are setting up shop, street vendors are roasting chestnuts, and people are beginning to gather outside in their furry hats, gloves, and coats to sip steaming mugs of glühwein.
In my house, I have turned back to roasting vegetables, baking granola, and warming big batches of hearty soups, curries, and the like. This sweet potato and chickpea stew is a favorite of ours. It is Asian-inspired and fuses elements of Thai and Indian curries. Flavors of coconut, lime, and Thai basil seamlessly merge with paneer cheese and chickpeas to create a rich and hearty stew that is ladled over black rice (though you could use brown rice, quinoa, etc) and topped off with fresh herbs, cashews, and scallions.
This is a crowd-pleaser because it makes a striking centerpiece on the table, is big on flavor, and can be made ahead. And for all of you Americans who feasted yesterday for Thanksgiving and are looking to use up leftover plainly-roasted sweet potato, this dish is for you! I'm sure your palette will welcome a fresh and exciting change of flavors in the coming days.
Coconut-Lime Sweet Potato and Chickpea Stew
Notes: Herb swap - I call for Thai basil and cilantro but have also used regular basil and/or mint, so a combination of any of these herbs will work fine here. And if you want to double the recipe, cook it in a soup pot or Dutch oven instead, double the amount of paneer, and add a bit more coconut milk or water, lime juice, and possibly chickpeas. You can decide the ratio you like best. But I would not add more sweet potato as too much could overwhelm the dish.
Ghee (or coconut oil)
1 package paneer (~150 g), sliced lengthwise into long strips (1/2" wide)
1 bunch scallions (3-4 stalks), sliced and divided
2 red chilies, sliced and divided
1" piece ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and chopped
1 1/2 cups chickpeas, cooked
1 cup water
2 tsp. tamari (or soy sauce)
1 13.5 oz carton coconut milk
2 large sweet potatoes, roasted*
Juice from 1 lime, divided
1 bunch each Thai basil & cilantro, chopped and divided
1 1/2 cups black rice, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup cashews, roasted and roughly chopped
Pomegranate molasses or lime wedges
Heat a knob of ghee in a non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Cook paneer until bottom is lightly golden brown and crispy, repeat on opposite side. Remove paneer, let cool slightly, and cut sticks into bite size pieces.
Heat a knob of ghee in a large high-sided saute pan over medium heat and add ginger, garlic, and half of scallions and chili. Stir to combine and saute for 1 minute, then stir in zucchini. Season with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Stir in chickpeas, stock, coconut milk, and soy. Cover and reduce heat to simmer over medium-low heat for a few minutes or until zucchini is just tender but still has a bite.
Gently stir in sweet potato, juice from half of the lime, paneer, and half of the herbs. Taste sauce and adjust for seasoning, adding more soy sauce if needed. Remove from heat immediately.
While still warm, season cooked black rice with salt and pepper to taste and juice from the remaining half of lime. Place the remaining scallions, chili, and herbs in small bowls to serve at the table along with the roasted cashews and pomegranate molasses or lime.
Serve stew with black rice and toppings.
*Preheat oven to 425 F. Peel and cut the sweet potato into 1 inch pieces. Toss with 2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil, salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 10-12 minutes, until they are just barely fork-tender.
And finally, I am sharing this recipe with Deenya for her new Fabulous Fusion Food Challenge.