How to Make Curry Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

This is a guest post from NF Rebel Chef Noel.

How many times have you stood in the kitchen in front of a pile of ingredients and thought: “I have no idea what I’m doing”?

Believe it or not, I feel this way a lot. (Don’t tell Steve!) About 90% of the time, I eat the same meals over and over again: cans of tuna with smashed avocado, scrambled eggs and bacon, baked chicken breasts and broccoli, lettuce wrapped burgers and baked sweet potatoes, etc..

Unless I’m whipping up a new recipe for The Rebellion, I rarely try anything new. When I’m tired, cranky, and hungry, I don’t want to have to think too hard about where my next meal is coming from.

Sound familiar?

We’ve had a few requests from you awesome Rebels asking about adding Asian-inspired cuisine to your cooking repertoire. I have a feeling that a lot of us nerds are into Asian food — I know I am. But we don’t get to eat it often because it’s packed with sugary sauces, processed thickeners, and in general, stuff we know works against us in our quest to get strong and stay healthy.

So today, we’re going to try some Indian flavors.

Francisco M Taj Mahal

Indian food fascinates and intimidates me. Garam Masala? Curry? What are these spices and where do they come from? This is something I was never introduced to growing up.

For me, this recipe was 100% new. Something I never even thought about cooking before. If I can do it, you can do it. Trust me.

In fact, it’s a lot like Steve’s Chicken Stir Fry recipe – a level 1 recipe.

Curry sounds like something fancy, exotic, and intimidating to make in your own home. But honestly, the only thing that may appear to pose a challenge is gathering the spices. They’re things that might sound a little weird, but I’ve been to a couple of different grocery stores, and to my surprise, they were readily available. If you can’t find one or two of them, that’s totally fine. Just replace it with a little extra curry powder!

A quick note to all you Indian food connoisseurs out there…because I have never cooked or eaten much curry in my life, there are likely a few top secret spices and tricks that I’m missing out on to make the Best Curry Ever. If you aren’t an Indian-food n00b like me, please feel free to share your tips/tricks/super secrets in the comments!

Ingredients and Equipment

Cook Time: 30 min
Prep Time: 10 min
Serves: 4

Noel_Chicken_Curry_022

2 chicken breasts (about 1lb or .45kg) – Boneless and skinless is good! We’ll be cutting these into 1″ cubes.

4 large sweet potatoes

1 yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, minced – These are the little guys inside the big bulb (or 1/2 tsp [2.5ml] pre minced garlic).

2 tbsp (30ml) olive oil – We’ll use 1 tbsp to stir fry the chicken and the other 1 tbsp to stir fry the veggies and spices.

1 tbsp (15ml) curry powder – Find this in the spice aisle. Pro tip: Spices are often organized alphabetically.

1 tsp (5ml) coriander – Also find it in the spice aisle.

1/2 tsp (2.5ml) cumin – Again, spice aisle.

1/2 tsp (2.5ml) cinnamon – You guessed it… spice aisle!

1/8 tsp (.61ml) red chili flakes – You are becoming well acquainted with the spice aisle, aren’t you?

1 can (14.5ml) tomatoes – Look for a BPA-free can or a box!

1/3 cup (79ml) coconut milk – I use the kind in the can. You can usually find this in the ethnic or Asian foods aisle.

1/8 tsp (.61ml) salt

Equipment:

Frying Pan

Spatula or Spoon – for stirring while cooking

Knife

Cutting Board – plastic is best for chicken, but any kind will do. Also, make sure to sanitize your cutting board and knife well after cutting raw chicken on it!

Bowls – for measuring your ingredients

Measuring cups

Measuring spoons

Instructions

1. First we’re going to cook the sweet potato. The fastest way and easiest way to do this is to cook it in the microwave. Poke it with a knife or fork several times (careful not to poke your hand), place it in the microwave, and if you’re lucky, your microwave will have a button that says “potato”. Push that one and hit “start.” If not, cook the potato for 5-8 minutes.

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When the potato is done, it’ll be super hot, so you can leave it in the microwave for now. Okay, now let’s get down to the real cookin’!

2. Prep all your ingredients! A lot of people who are new to cooking are not great at multitasking in the kitchen. This is okay! The more you cook, the better you’ll get at it! If we prep our ingredients before we turn any heat on, we’ll have everything ready so that there’s less of a chance of burning your food, ruining your meal, and giving up cooking for all of eternity. So, consider steps 3-5 prep steps.

3. Cut your chicken into 1 in to cubes. Your chicken should look about like this when it’s done:

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4. Dice your onion. (Refer to paleo shepherd’s pie for a refresher on how to dice an onion).

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5. Measure out the rest of your ingredients. That means spices, garlic, and coconut milk. Open your can of tomatoes. If you’re using carrots and cauliflower, cut these up as well. Also, measure out your peas.

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6. Now it’s time to turn on the heat! Pre heat your frying pan for about 5 minutes.

7. Pour 1 tbsp (15ml) olive oil in your pan and let it heat up. This takes about 10 seconds.

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8. Dump all your chicken in the pan (if your pan is small, you may want to do this in a couple batches).

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Stir fry the chicken until it is cooked through. This will take about 15-20 minutes. The outside of the chicken will look toasted brown and you wont see any more pink in the meat. “Stir fry” just means cook on high heat in oil, stirring frequently.

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9. When the chicken is browned, remove it from heat and set aside.

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10. Place your pan back on the heat and pour your second Tbsp of oil in it. Tilt the pan to coat. (It’s okay if you don’t clean the pan before you do this).

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11. Add your onions and stir. If you’re using more veggies, now would be a good time to add them.

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Let them cook 3-5 minutes until translucent. They also might look a bit yellow because they’re picking up all the leftover chickeny flavors. This is totally fine and definitely delicious.

12. Now, add the garlic, tomatoes, spices, and coconut milk. Stir well.

Noel_Chicken_Curry_013

13. Return the chicken to the pan, mix it in and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is warmed through. Add about 1/4 cup (59ml) water to the pan and stir if the the liquid is evaporating quickly. (You probably won’t have to add water if you put a lid on the pan while it’s simmering.)

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14. Remember that sweet potato from earlier? It should be cool enough to touch now. (If it’s too cold, warm it up for 30 seconds – 1 minute more.) Take it out of the microwave and cut it down the middle.

15. Spoon some of the chicken curry into the middle of the sweet potato and serve!

Noel_Chicken_Curry_017

And that’s it! Looking to change it up a little? Try one of these variations!

  • Want more veggies? I suggest 4 carrots, 1/2 a head of cauliflower, finely chopped, and 1 cup (236ml) of peas. Broccoli or eggplant would probably also be great.
  • Crave more spice? Add some more red pepper flake, a dash of cayenne pepper, or 1/2 of a jalapeno pepper, minced!
  • Want even more flavor? Use fresh ginger, grated (I use a cheese grater. Be careful with your fingers! You can also mince the ginger with your knife if you don’t have a grater.
  • Don’t feel like pouring it in a sweet potato? You can whip up some cauliflower rice. Or for less hassle, just roast or steam your cauliflower, and serve the curry along side that.
  • Make it vegetarian! Replace the chicken with a can of chickpeas – drain and rinse them first. Toss them in at the re-warming stage of this recipe.

Adventure for your taste buds!

JD Hancock

To be honest, I was pretty stressed about this recipe because I had never made anything like it before, but I’m super happy that you guys requested that we try something new together!

You reminded me that cooking new things is awesome! As Steve tells us, sometimes we need to do stuff that scares us!

Doing something new in the kitchen can certainly fit that bill.

Here are some tips to help you get over that fear:

  • Find some recipe websites or a good cook book that you trust. (I like Nom Nom Paleo and Civilized Caveman Cooking!) If you know their recipes are high quality, there’s a good chance your dishes will come out tasty every time!
  • Pay attention to what you’re doing. Give your meals 100% of your attention (or as much as you can).
  • Read the recipe at least once completely before you even touch the ingredients. This prevents you from accidentally skipping steps or doing things in the wrong order. Know what to be ready for!
  • Have a back up plan. The other day I totally messed up a super simple chicken and veggie stir fry. (Even experienced cooks have trouble!) Luckily, I had a back up plan so I wasn’t stranded without food. Even if it’s something simple, make sure you always have a back up when you’re trying something new so you aren’t frustrated, stressed, and starving if something doesn’t go perfectly.

What do you do to get over your fears in the kitchen?

What is one of the things you’re most proud of having accomplished when it comes to cooking? 

-Noel

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PS: We’ve been adding these recipes and a few dozen more to our Nerd Fitness Academy, which has recipes, meal plans, workout plans, and the ability to complete quests and missions and level up as you get healthier. Check it out!

Photos: Taj Mahal: Francisco Martins, Adventure TimeJD Hancock

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  • Stephanie

    You read my mind! Been wanting Indian food since Monday! Can’t wait to try this recipe out!

  • Dan

    This is a great recipe for folks a little shy around the spice rack. A good curry powder already has cumin and coriander in it +turmeric and cardamom. I buy the base spices in bulk and mix my own.

  • OrangeBeanie

    Looks awesome. My mom use to make Japanese curry over white rice and it’s so good. I may use that same Japanese block of curry flavor and add in some tips from here to make a hybrid.

  • Sam

    Indian slow cooking tip – marinate the chicken with a bit of yogurt (plain unflavored,1/2 – 1 cup should be fine for 2 chicken breasts) , some turmeric powder (1 tsp should do – or if you don’t want turmeric, black pepper powder) and salt (be sure to compensate accordingly later on) for 30 mins at room temp, or if you’re the forward planning type, overnight in the fridge (4 degrees Celcius). To marinate, just mix everything in a bowl and make sure the chicken isn’t too dry (add more yogurt) or too runny (add more chicken) – the consistency of the final pre-marinated mix should be somewhat close to potato salad. You should see a bit of the white of the yogurt with streaks of yellow (turmeric) . After marination, the mixture will be more runny since the salt draws out water from the chicken. Proceed as Noel’s instructions here, chicken should turn out to be more tender and melt in your mouth because of the action of the yogurt.

    As always, wash hands thoroughly after mixing the chicken – or just use a spatula ! Prevents yellowing of hands 🙂

  • Zach Freeman

    For a slight variation on this recipe try substituting garam masala for the curry powder. garam masala is a spice blend like curry powder but a little more authentically Indian as curry powder was invented by the English. You can get it at Indian or Middle Eastern markets or off the interwebs. Also, garam masala can be a little on the spicy side so maybe back off on the red chile flakes unless you really like it hot.

  • Simon Brown

    Cool recipe! As a sweet potato fanatic, I’d make one change: bake the sweet potato in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. It may begin to drip liquid and the skin may blacken, but it’s super creamy and sweet – very easy to spoon out, as well. An AWESOME variation alternative to this recipe would be ground nut stew base (think peanut butter sauce in thai food).

  • Simon Brown

    Oh, but those yellow hands/counter tops are so beautiful… : )

  • FaceAK

    Tip: Add your spices to the onions first and fry them in the oil. This opens them up, making the dish more flavorful and fragrant. Do this for about 2-3 minutes and THEN add your tomatoes and coconut milk.

    I also find that adding a tablespoon of tomato paste adds some depth to the dish.

  • crar4321

    One of my goals in the current 6 week challenge is to cook a new paleo recipe each week! Looks like I know what I’m doing next week! Thanks for this.

  • Mark (Australia-Canberra)

    That looks fantastic, can you do more of these great receipie ideas? We need to mix up our dinner time more.
    Big thanks to ze chef

  • Ysanne

    As FaceAK already said, it really makes a big difference if you put in your spices first to fry a bit with the onions, as opposed to just cooking them. (Careful with paprika and garlic though: These two burn easily and turn bitter.)

    Also, olive oil isn’t the best choice here, as a) the taste doesn’t quite fit, and b) prolonged high temperatures wreck its taste anyway. Indian recipes typically use ghee (aka clarified butter or butterfat), which can take heating much better and has a nice creamy taste to it. If you don’t want to use that because it’s a dairy product, coconut oil is a good match too. If you really want to fry with olive oil, e.g. for Italian recipes, start with heating the pan alone, only add the oil once the pan’s hot enough, and after a few seconds add the other ingredients: This minimises the time that the oil is at taste-wrecking temperatures.

  • Kin

    Sounds mean ill gve it a blast tonight thank u feel I shud point out that peas and chickpeas aren’t paleo …:-)

  • Big_Show

    I just made these! Admittedly mine wasn’t quite as photogenic, but it definitely tastes awesome!

  • Kerri Owens

    I feel like I should pipe in and give a warning to keep an eye on your microwave while cooking the sweet potato’s. I blew up a microwave trying to baked a sweet potato once. It does not end well.

  • amna

    Stir fry the chicken with little garlic paste, it changes that raw chicken smell

  • Noel

    Awesome! I hope you enjoy it! Tell us how it goes!

  • Noel

    Yeah! Curry powder generally does have those things in it. I tried this the first time around using just curry powder without adding the extra cumin and coriander, but the flavor wasn’t quite right. Maybe if you use only the pre mixed stuff, double it?

    Thanks!

  • Noel

    I love Japanese curry too! There’s a restaurant in my town that used to have it, but it closed down. I hope this recipe helps you make a frankenstein paleo japanese curry! Tell me how it goes if you try it out!

  • Noel

    Nice! Thanks for the info Sam! This sounds awesome.

  • Noel

    Nice! Now I know what garam masala is! I’ll have to try it out next time. Thanks Zach!

  • Noel

    Thanks for the tip Simon! I’ve actually never baked a sweet potato. I always make them in the microwave because I’m too impatient, but if you say it’s better I’ll have to try it out!

    I’m working on a thai curry recipe for the Academy too! Generally there’s more coconut milk and some different spices and yes, peanut butter 🙂

  • Noel

    Awesome. Thanks for the tips!

  • Noel

    Wohoo! I hope you like it! Let me know if you need any help or recipe ideas! Email me at noel (at) nerdfitness (dot) com . Good luck!

  • Noel

    Heck yeah! We have a few more recipes here if you look in the archives, and we have quite a few in the Academy also! Adding them slowly but surely! Thanks for the encouragement! Keep on cookin’!

  • Noel

    Thanks for the tips Ysanne! Ghee definitely would make it more authentic. I’ll have to try it with coconut oil next time 🙂

  • Noel

    Thanks for pointing this out Kin. I meant to add it, but apparently I forgot! They are indeed not Paleo, but if you’re a vegetarian and chickpeas don’t bother you, they’re a good protein option! Also, peas aren’t the worst thing you can do as a paleo person if you’re looking to add more green stuff to your diet. 🙂 If you want to keep it pure paleo, I’d use broccoli and cauliflower instead.

    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/are-peas-and-green-beans-healthy/#axzz3SylgFzkq

  • Noel

    Yay! I’m so glad you tried and liked it. It’s true. This recipe is soooo not photogenic, but it does taste delicious! Thanks for sharing your photo!

  • Noel

    Excellent point, Kerri. It is a secret fear of mine that I will blow up a sweet potato in the microwave. It’s only a matter of time….

  • Noel

    Nice! Good tip! I’ve never used garlic paste before. I’ll look for it next time I’m at the store.

  • Big_Show

    No, I meant that yours looks fantastic but my presentation doesn’t do it justice! Luckily your explanatory skills meant I was able to make a reasonable copy that tasted really nice 🙂

  • Adam Trainor

    What’s great about this recipe is, not only is it a new way to eat sweet potatoes (because baked with butter and brown sugar gets old) but it’s a really nutrient-dense meal. At a glance, this one is going to be all about portion size, depending on your goals. Here’s my simple math. Gaining? Eat two. Sustaining? Eat one. Cutting? Eat one, but then have another because darn it they’re good, and there’s always time to cut later. Thanks for this. Making it this weekend.

  • Martienne Cotter

    My boyfriend is Indian, so I eat a lot of Indian food. Honestly, though, I eat it mostly because I have a degree in Ayurveda and know that it’s all very good for me! I usually use almond milk instead of sweeter coconut milk, though, and for spices I use turmeric and garam masala. But I want to try this!

  • Martienne

    My boyfriend is Indian, so I eat a lot of Indian food. But honestly I’m drawn to it because I have a degree in Ayurveda and know how healthy it is! I usually substitute almond milk and for spices I used turmeric and garam masala. But I would like to try this!

  • georges

    I baked a sweet potato for the first time recently – juices came out the poked holes and carmelized….mmmm…… and now I know to throw a pan or some foil under the sweet potato! Baking is such a different texture and really brings out the sweet flavors – it’s worth the extra time.

  • Brad

    Absolutely loved it. As a college student trying to cook healthy, but failing miserably a lot of the time and cooking inedible things. This was the best dish I’ve ever made by myself 🙂

  • Andrew K.

    Noel,

    So far I’ve tried many of your recipes. They have yet to fail me! Keep it up!

  • whitecore

    You can just make do with turmeric, cumin and coriander powder.
    I put the onions and garlic first, then spices, followed by tomatoes. Put in chicken after that and let it simmer till almost cooked. Put in lots of spinach leaves, stir it all up and put a lid on till chicken cooks. Don’t like frying the chicken.

  • Heidi

    I eat a sweet potato at least once a week, but usually because I’m craving something sweet and I treat it to a dose of cinnamon. I’m definitely going to be trying this recipe and I’m sure it’s going to be a constant in my collection. Also, I’ll be putting the potato in the oven for a change instead of the micro for something different to see the difference. Thanks so much.

  • mub
  • mub
  • These look delicious! YUM!!! I can’t wait to try these out!

  • HandbellChick

    This sounds fantastic (and I think my anti sweet potato hubby would enjoy this! I just have one issue- I have a very serious allergy to coconut. Any suggestions for a swap of the coconut milk? I want to give this a shot without having a nasty allergic reaction.

  • HandbellChick

    This sounds fantastic (and I think my anti sweet potato hubby would enjoy this!) I just have one issue- I have a very serious allergy to coconut. Any suggestions for a swap of the coconut milk? I want to give this a shot without having a nasty allergic reaction.

  • Dave M.

    Great recipe (and great series), but I do want to point out that your readers should be aware of the risk of cross contamination when cutting up the chicken. You should be sure to thoroughly wash your hands (and the cutting board (unless you’re using a separate one for the vegetables) and knife) after cubing the chicken, since raw chicken can have salmonella bacteria on it, and while you are cooking the onions/additional vegetables, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

    I’d also suggest that if you choose to add something like cauliflower (or carrots), you steam/microwave it first before you add it (just to get it par-cooked), since the time it would take to cook in the pan would be more than the 10-15 minutes you suggest, so you’d be looking at overcooked chicken by the time the vegetables catch up (something like frozen peas wouldn’t require any special handling though). Using boneless chicken thighs would probably lessen the risk of overcooking, since dark meat can take longer cooking times with less risk of overcooking (and dark meat is more flavorful anyway, so there’s that to consider as well).

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  • Glad I decided to read this post because I eat and teach my clients to eat supportively, however the biggest challenge we face is whipping up tasty meals.

  • Here’s a cool tweak: Add a little black pepper to any dish that contains turmeric (found in most yellow-looking curry mixes) to boost turmeric’s health benefits. Makes the curcumin in turmeric WAY more bioavailable.

    Dr. Weil talks about turmeric and curcumin: http://goo.gl/IjlD13

    About adding black pepper: http://goo.gl/1FDfsx

    I think that most curry mixes have some black pepper in them anyway, but an additional pinch doesn’t hurt.

  • Landon

    Thanks for the great recipe. My wife insists that I make this every week.

  • nicolejr

    Awesome post, thank you

    370 Paleo Diet Recipe

  • Irene

    A couple of tips for Indian food – try “toasting” the spices first -use a heavy, dry frying pan and heat them for a minute or less over high heat (watch that they don’t burn) – adds a real depth of flavor. Second, re the fresh ginger: because you tend only to use a small amount each time, there’s a real risk that the rest of it is going to go moldy in your fridge before you use it all. Fresh ginger can be frozen – just through it in a freeze bag and when you want to use it, whack off a piece to grate or finely chop.