Dense fogs, icy winds and fluffy balls of snow herald the winter season in India. This not only means digging out from the wardrobe those sweaters to wear through the day and cosy blankets to snuggle in at night but also the incessant craving for hot satiating foods for that sense of warmth and comfort in the body. Well, sweet potatoes – the starchy root vegetables – are the perfect choice for the freezing weather, being rich in nutrients and packed with umpteen health benefits to boost immunity, digestion and metabolism in winter.
Nutrition Values And Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes:
Known in scientific terminology as Ipomoea batatas, sweet potatoes are big, tuberous roots with a pleasantly sweet taste resembling pumpkins, that thrive in warm tropical to temperate environments around the world, including India, the USA, South America, China and Africa. These starchy vegetables supply a plethora of essential nutrients such as vitamin A for enhanced eyesight, vitamin C for uplifted immunity, as well as dietary fibres for gut wellness and optimal bowel movements. They also offer ample calories, carbohydrates and proteins for instant energy, healthy organ development, regulating appetite and stimulating metabolism and digestion, both of which tend to slow down in the chilly winters.
Furthermore, sweet potatoes are imbued with pivotal minerals like manganese, potassium, copper, calcium for heart health, nerve function, protective antioxidant properties and strong bones, aside from vitamin B6 for brain power and antioxidant compounds – beta-carotene – a carotenoid, anthocyanins and organic acids that lower the risk of cancer.
Yummy And Nourishing Sweet Potato Recipes:
Apart from the myriad health merits of sweet potatoes, here’s some more good news – this large root vegetable that is related to potatoes can be effortlessly incorporated into the routine Indian diet, such as in dals, sambar, soups, gravies and cutlets. Here are two scrumptious recipes of Sweet Potato Curry and Sweet Potato Tikki, to relish at home with family whilst enjoying the picturesque winter scenery outdoors.
Sweet Potato Curry
4 sweet potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut
3 pearl onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 cup tamarind water
2 tbsp jaggery powder
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 green chilli, slit vertically
1 tsp sambar powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
Salt, as per taste
2 tbsp sesame/gingelly oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ teaspoon jeera/cumin seeds
½ teaspoon asafoetida/hing
A fistful of curry leaves
A bunch of coriander leaves, finely chopped for garnish
In a pressure cooker, heat 1 tbsp sesame oil on high flame, add a few curry leaves and once they begin to sputter, transfer the pearl onions, green chillies and cook until the onions become translucent.
Put in the tomatoes, mash them well, then add the garlic, sambar powder, jaggery, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, required amount of salt and cook for 5 – 7 minutes on medium flame to obtain a smooth fluid paste.
Now transfer the sweet potatoes along with tamarind water, mix well so all the flavours blend in and adjust for salt and spice.
Pressure cook this mixture for 4 whistles and allow it to cool down.
In a pan, heat 1 tbsp sesame oil on high, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and once they crackle, add some curry leaves and asafoetida.
Pour this tempering into the blend in the pressure cooker, top it off with coriander leaves and serve the sweet potato curry along with warm rice and ghee for lunch or dinner.
An excellent source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fibres, sweet potatoes fulfil the appetite, curb untimely cravings and facilitate smooth digestion. Onions deliver quercetin – a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent cancer while garlic is bestowed with vitamin C and flavonoids for enhanced immune functions.
Sweet Potato Tikki
5 sweet potatoes
½ cup green peas
1 ½ tsp ginger garlic paste
2 tbsp singhara/water chestnut flour
1 tsp chaat masala
½ tsp dry mango i.e. amchur powder
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 – 2 tsp sendha namak/rock salt, as per taste
5 tbsp vegetable/canola oil, for frying
Pressure cook the sweet potatoes and green peas in water and a bit of salt so they become soft.
Once they cool down, remove the peel and mash the sweet potatoes thoroughly.
Add the water chestnut flour, ginger garlic paste, chaat masala, amchur powder, lemon juice, cumin powder, red chilli powder and rock salt and mix well.
Mould the seasoned mashed sweet potatoes into uniform round patties.
Heat vegetable/canola oil in a wok and fry the patties until they become golden-brown on both sides.
Remove the patties from the wok and drain out excess oil using a tissue.
Serve the sweet potato tikkis with tomato ketchup, mint chutney and a cup of piping hot masala chai for a delicious crispy evening snack in the winter.
Laden with vitamin A and potassium, sweet potatoes augment vision, prevent eye disorders like AMD, glaucoma and also bolster heart functions. Green peas comprise vast reserves of proteins for strong muscles and optimal growth and development, while rock salt is blessed with decongestant properties to remedy cough, cold, fever, sore throat and improve respiratory health.