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Chettinad yam curry

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

I have become a touch obsessed with Chettinad cuisine, complex, spicy and lots of diverse flavors. Yams, and there are quite a few varieties in India, are enjoyed all year round across India. They are sautéed, fried, mashed, roasted and made in curries. Each dish representing the culture, locality and the spices of the region.

This curry is on the simpler side, there are lots of spices add complex flavors and the whole shallots add that touch of sweet to the curry. The yams absorb the flavors as they sit, so make this curry in the morning and enjoy it for dinner.

This is a recently acquired cookbook, one that I am cooking from quite regularly. This bible of Chettinad cuisine is spectacular, one that is a must for anyone that wants to cook this cuisine.

For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.

For more wonderful recipes from this cookbook, click here.


3 cups yam, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 tablespoons oil

1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds

1/2 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon fennel (saunf) seeds

1 onion, chunked (optional) 3 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste

5 teaspoons coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon black gram (urad) dal

10 curry leaves

1 cup shallots, kept whole

6 pods garlic, kept whole

2 tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tablespoon tamarind paste

Cilantro, minced, for garnish

Salt to taste

Water as needed

Boil the yams in salted water for about 15-20 minutes till cooked. They must still maintain some texture and not be completely mushy. Drain and set aside.

Dry roast 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds and anise seeds separately till fragrant and lightly colored. Grind to a fine powder in a coffee mill. Set aside.

You may choose to use the onion of you would like a thicker curry. If you choose to use it, purée it with the chili and coriander powders. Set aside.

Heat a deep pot with oil. Add the mustard seeds, urad dal, anise seeds, and curry leaves, and stir, the mustard seeds will splutter in about 30 seconds. Add the 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, shallots and the garlic. Sauté for a few minutes.

Add the ground onion-spice mix if using, or the dry powders and sauté for a few minutes. If you are using the onions, sauté for a bit longer till the paste is dry. Add the tomatoes and continue cooking for about 10 minutes tll the tomatoes are soft and broken down. The oil should begin to separate from the paste at this stage.

Add the tamarind and yams and mix well to coat the yams with the sauce. Add about 3 cups water and bring to a simmer. Cook gently covered for 10 minutes till the curry thickens and the oil again begins to float to the top. Add salt and taste. Adjust as needed.

To serve, heat the curt up and load into a deep bowl. Sprinkle with the ground spice powder and top with minced cilantro. Serve with rice.

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