Japanese Vegan Sweet Potato Curry
(Vegan | Contains Gluten | Dairy-Free | Spicy)
Comfort food means different things for different people. For some, it’s a big bowl of noodles. For others, it’s ice cream with chocolate sauce. I asked Junko-san, the lead host for our trip to Japan, what her comfort food is, what she would make at home when she is feeling under the weather. I was really surprised to hear “curry”! I also learned about Karaimo (“potatoes from China”; “Kara” refers to China, “imo” is Japanese for potatoes) or satsumaimo, which means sweet potato in Japanese.
This understated vegetable has been tagged as the poor man’s food in Asia. No one would have guessed that this root vegetable with such humble beginnings is rated as the most nutritious of all vegetables when it was evaluated in the United States, scoring a whopping 582 points, with carrot coming in at far 434 for the USRDI (Recommended Daily Intake) measuring 6 nutrients (Vit A and C, folate, iron, copper and calcium) plus fibre. And it is virtually fat-free.
Ever since I got back from Japan, I have been working on perfecting this comforting dish using paleo-friendly sweet potato chunks, combining them with made-from-scratch curry roux paste, roasted red apples, and adding barley to make it a simple yet delicious dish representing the best of Kagoshima in a vegan style. It is thick and creamy, fruity, sweet and spicy at the same time. Adding a little coconut cream brings a touch of richness and tames the warming spice. Try it with our new purple sweet potato bread rolls, made from only real purple sweet potatoes!
Ingredients: Vegetable stock (water, root vegetables and herbs), yellow sweet potatoes, orange sweet potatoes, carrots, barley, gula melaka, roasted red apples, oyster mushrooms, garlic, onions, curry spices
Condiments: Edamame, a swirl of coconut cream, toasted black and white sesame seeds