Root vegetable pancakes are a great tool to have in your arsenal of winter cooking tricks. If you’re like me and you try to eat seasonally, there will undoubtedly come a point where you’ll look at box after box of turnips and parsnips and yams, and you’ll be all like: what on Earth am I going to do with these that I didn’t do last night, or last week, or last year?!
Don’t get me wrong. I like winter vegetables. But especially when we’re crunched for time, there’s a kind of monotony to the root vegetable rigmarole: roasted, or pureed, or turned into soup. Again and again and again.
Vegetable pancakes — and especially these curried sweet potato pancakes — are all about breaking the pattern. They’re all about eating outside the box.
Sweet potatoes are particularly versatile when it comes to the seasonings you can put with them. And while we usually think of them in Thanksgiving terms — with cinnamon and maybe a little brown sugar — it doesn’t have to be that way. The warmth and heat of Indian spices — in this case turmeric and cumin — both enhances and cuts the inherent sweetness of the vegetable, bringing out a complex set of flavors that you won’t necessarily expect.
I haven’t tried this particular flavor combination with other root vegetables, but running through my internal list of flavors that play well together, here is what I would suggest: if you have a glut of carrots, or parsnips, or yams, try this recipe with those; by all means, if you have a combo of sweet potatoes and those other vegetables, have a go; but if your overabundance of root vegetables comes in the form of turnips, or rutabagas or radishes, you might consider going in another direction. Korean style radish pancakes, in that case, seem like a good formulation to try.
Curried Sweet Potato Pancakes
2 Large Sweet Potatoes, skin on and shredded
1 Small Onion, diced
1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Coriander Seeds
1/2 tsp Dried Cayenne Pepper (or half that if you’re averse to a little bit of kick)
Canola Oil (or another high smoke-point vegetable oil)
Remove the mixture from the heat and, in a medium workbowl, combine it with the shredded sweet potatoes, about twenty grinds of pepper, and a liberal sprinkling of salt. Add the whole wheat flour and toss well. Then mix in the eggs. If the whole thing seems a little bit too wet, you may add as much as another full quarter of a cup of flour. But you shouldn’t need to. A little bit wet is okay.
When the ingredients are mixed, heat a clean, heavy pan over a medium flame. Add enough canola oil to coat the bottom, and when it’s good and hot, add your mixture in quarter-cup scoops, gently pressing down on each to form the sweet potato pancakes. You don’t want to be rough with them or they will break. And you don’t want to crowd the pan. Doing batches of four or five sweet potato pancakes at a time is just about right.
Cook them for about four minutes on each side. You’ll know they’re ready to flip when the edges start to look crisp. Then, when each batch is done, move the sweet potato pancakes to a baking sheet and stow in a 250F oven to keep warm.
They will cool rapidly, so serve the sweet potato pancakes as soon as they’re done. They’re great as a simple meal, accompanied by a salad. Or they make a great appetizer, served next to a yogurt dipping sauce like raita.
This recipe should make 12-16 sweet potato pancakes, all told.