• Vegetarian
  • Curry

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry:
Cheap and Easy Vegetarian

  • by the Old White Hippie
  • 2.5 hour total
  • Actual Cooking

I found this recipe years ago, no idea where, but it's been a staple of my diet ever since. It does just as well in a crock pot, or with dry beans, as it does in a skillet with canned ones. Just adjust your cooking times appropriately. Be sure to fry the onions and spices in a skillet, though, before adding the rest of the ingredients, or it won't taste right. I made this with just a skillet and a crockpot when I moved to Trenton, and was dead broke pretty much the entire time, and continued making it once every other month or so in San Antonio and the Bronx. I'm doing it with just the big deep skillet today, because I have it available and have the time and spare attention to do it on the stovetop. This freezes well, which makes it a great cook-ahead lunch or dinner.

I'm an Old White Hippie. This is my kitchen. Cheap and easy vegetarian food is in fact possible.

    30 minutes
  • Cook TIME
    2 hours

  • Curry Powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin
  • Ginger
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 or 4 sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 2 large cans chickpeas
  • 1 can coconut milk

Ingredients marshalled. Cumin, in a big container because we use it in a lot of dishes and don't like running out. Two of the big cans of Goya garbanzos, partly because Goya is a brand I trust, partly because it's become familiar after so many years living in communities with a sizeable Hispanic population, partly because I'd rather give them the business than Libby's. Coconut milk. Tomato sauce, because I don't have a small can of crushed tomatoes and I don't like using diced tomatoes. Personal preference. Red onion because why not. Ginger paste in the big jar, because that's another thing we don't like running out of. Jamaican curry powder because that's what the cheap grocery store in Rochester had, Indian stuff required a trip to one of the shadiest Desi groceries I think I've ever been in, I didn't buy anything there that wasn't sealed and shelf-stable. Cinnamon - well, it's what was available at the time. And three big sweet potatoes.


First, peel and cut up the sweet potatoes. Yes, it says cubed, but sweet potatoes render more readily into roughly bite sized pieces rather than anything as tidy as a cube.

Chop the onion. No idea how the red onion will affect the flavor or appearance, I've always used sweet onions before. Let's find out.

Skillet, with butter melting in it, and spices lined up ready to go. I thought about using ghee or olive oil, but the one is expensive and the other changes the flavor profile and mouth feel slightly, and I want this a rich, smooth batch. Set your stove to medium heat as we're about to fry up an onion.

Partly-fried onions with the spices added, before stirring in. It only takes a minute or so to awaken the spices, and they'll scorch easy, so be quick here. There's no measurements above because I make this to my own taste based on experience. I'd suggest going heavy on the curry powder and ginger, light on the cumin and cinnamon.

In goes the tomato sauce, with a half a can of water to rinse it out and add a bit of liquid to the curry. Stir it in, don't leave it sitting like I did to take the photo.

Coconut milk, again with a bit of water to rinse the can and add a little more liquid to the curry. Some of it will cook off, some will cook out of the sweet potatoes. As always, the trick is to get it to balance out right in the end product.

After stirring in two cans of chickpeas. Start reducing the heat at this point.

Sweet potatoes have been added and stirred in. At this point, you should have the heat down to about a third, maybe less. On the electric stove, that goes Lo, 2-9, Hi, I started out at 5, and by this point have it at 2.6.

Put the lid on, and simmer. After the first half hour, I stirred it up and then reduced the heat to 2.0. You want a slow simmer for a while to get those sweet potatoes cooked right.

After a while, the sweet potatoes will start to break down. You may need to add more water, stir more frequently, and lower the heat a touch more. At this point, I've got the electric stove set at 1.6, having dropped it one notch each time I've stirred it.

Getting closer, after an hour or so of low simmering.

This is about the consistency I want, where it's getting thick, but there's still identifiable chunks of sweet potato in it.

The finished product, a hearty comfort food that's cheap to make in large quantities. My youngest likes this one, and I've had a request for the recipe from a woman from Delhi. I'd suggest making a couple of batches and playing with the spicing, as it really does need to be to taste. Caroline took a double portion and there was still enough to put four bowls in the freezer and one in the fridge.