This recipe is from Flavour: Eat What You Love, by Ruby Tandoh. Released July 2016
Berbere is an Ethiopian spice mix with fiery cayenne, a sweetness from aromatic allspice and a citrussy cardamom kick. The quantities given here make far more than you’ll need for this sweet potato recipe, but you can put any excess in a small tin or plastic container to use in another dish – perhaps spicy stewed beetroot, oven-cooked chicken or a hot beef casserole. In this recipe, the berbere gives a sharp heat to the sweet potato chunks, roasted until tender and melting into a thick sauce. This is great served with flatbread: tear off ragged pieces and use them to pick up chunks of tender potato.
For the berbere:
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
8 cardamom pods, seeds only
4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
For the roasted sweet potato:
50ml vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato purée
3 teaspoons berbere
4 medium sweet potatoes (roughly 1–1.2kg), peeled and cut into large chunks
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Salt and black pepper, to taste
For the berbere, first grind the coriander seeds to a powder with the cardamom seeds and cloves with a pestle and mortar or in a coffee grinder. Mix this powder with the other spices and the salt, then dry fry it in a frying pan over a medium-low heat, stirring continuously, for a minute or so, until fragrant and darkened a shade. Tip onto a plate to cool.
Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas mark 3. Heat the oil in a medium ovenproof pan or casserole and cook the onion over a very low heat, partially covered by a lid, for 15 minutes.
When the onion is perfectly tender, add the tomato purée and berbere and fry for 2–3 minutes. Mix in the chopped sweet potatoes, add the water and season with plenty of salt and pepper.
Cover the pan with a lid and bake for 40 minutes in the oven.
Remove the lid and bake for a further 30–40 minutes, then take the pan out of the oven and give it a quick stir to break up some of the chunks of potato, while leaving other chunks intact.
Sprinkle the spicy sweet potato stew with the chopped spring onion and sesame seeds, and serve with flatbreads.