Monday, February 4, 2013

Sweet Potato Crepes with Cilantro-Tamarind Sauce

For about 5-6 years I had a vegan cookbook with a sweet potato crepes recipe that I wanted to try, but every time I looked at it I decided I didn't want to go buy the spices. I eventually tried the recipe a few months ago and now it's one of my favorite things to make for dinner (with naan instead of crepes, but I'll include the crepe recipe here). The recipe is from Vegan With a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Instructions are verbatim from the book.



2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt


2 tbsp peanut oil
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
Half a 15-oz can coconut milk
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp fresh lime juice


1/2 cup raw cashews
2 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro
2 tsp tamarind concentrate
Half a 15-oz can coconut milk
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp peanut oil
Pinch salt


1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups water


Spice blend

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Pour in all of the seeds, pods, and cloves except for the cinnamon and cayenne, and toast for about 3 minutes, shaking the skillet back and forth for even heating. The spices should smell warm and toasty. Remove the mixture from the pan immediately and transfer to a bowl to cool. When fully cooled, place in a spice grinder (a coffee grinder works) or mortar and pestle. Grind to a fine powder and add the cinnamon, cayenne, and salt. Set aside. 


Preheat a large skillet over moderate heat. Pour in the oil and heat, then add the onions and bell pepper, and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger; saute about 2 minutes more. Add the spice blend and make sure the onions are coated with is. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for a minute or two. Cover the pan and cook for 15 more minutes, stirring frequently, until the sweet potatoes are tender. (You should prepare the sauce while they are cooking.) Add the coconut milk, maple syrup, and lime juice, cover, and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. The coconut milk should be fully incorporated into the sweet potatoes. 


Grind the cashews in a blender or food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. That's it!


Combine the flours and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the water and olive oil. Use an electric hand mixer to blend until completely smooth (if you don't have a mixer, mix with a fork for a good solid 3 minutes). Cover the batter with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for 1/2 hour or so. 

Preheat your crepe pan or a nonstick skillet that is 8 inches or so across. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray or a very thin layer of olive oil. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan; tilt and rotate the pan so that the crepe batter has covered the bottom and crept up the sides of the pan just a tiny bit. When it looks like the top of the crepe has pretty much set and the corners of the crepes are just beginning to brown, flip over with a spatula and cook the other side for just under a minute. 

You can remove the crepe in one of two ways (and probably more than two but this is how I do it: (1) fold the crepe in half and then in half again, so that it's folded into a triangular shape; or (2) use a spatula to transfer the crepe to a large plate, putting a sheet of waxed paper between each crepe to keep them from sticking. You may be able to get away with not using the waxed paper if you'd like to chance it. Either way you do it, cover the plate with foil as you make the remainder of the crepes.


There should be two crepes per plate. Place one crepe on a plate, fill with about 1/2 cup of filling and fold each side over, like a jacket. Repeat with a second crepe and drizzle with tamarind sauce. 

My notes

This is a great recipe that's hard to mess up. The most time-consuming part is cubing the sweet potatoes (use a food processor for the onion and pepper). On the spices - I use ground mustard and ground cardamom because that's what I have. I usually substitute about 1/2 tsp (a little less) ground cardamom for the 2 pods, though the Internet says that freshly ground cardamom would be better. I bought a spice grinder a bit ago to do this and it's kind of fun. And it smells really good.

The crepes are pretty with the filling and the sauce, but I really do prefer this with naan. Also, when I made the crepes the chickpea flour didn't seem to matter for the taste. Even when I used more chickpea flour and less regular flour.

And I haven't ever found 15-oz coconut milk cans. I think the ones I always find are 13 oz or something, and that's always seemed to work. 

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