As the case with Indian cuisine, some native Thai dishes are just too spicy for the palette, and yogurt has to play the part of a firefighter, stepping in with a hose to banish the inferno in your mouth. I saw this dish’s namesake on the menu at a restaurant in Chiang Mai, and, although I didn’t order it, stowed the idea in my memory to try at home. In my kitchen, I experimented with yogurt and lime juice portions, oscillated between cilantro and basil (basil finally won my taste buds over) and debated on whether or not to add a shallot and pepper. What I was left with is a side dish that just works. The tangy, homemade yogurt mixed with lime juice blends well with the steamed sweet potatoes, creating a harmony of flavors meeting somewhere between honeyed and tart. The minced shallot rounds out the dish, while basil adds color and complexity. Finally, freshly cracked pepper adds just the right amount of heat to remind you of the spicy curry from which you are seeking solace.
Hint: Make this side dish ahead to go alongside tomorrow’s post – you may need a cool down.
2 large sweet potatoes, unpeeled, diced
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 cup plain yogurt (homemade yogurt post soon to follow)
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped basil
2 grinds of peppercorn
1. Toss the sweet potatoes with the minced shallot, and place inside a steamer. Steam the sweet potatoes for ten minutes or until they are tender. I use a metal steamer, which works nicely and keeps everything intact. Once cooked, remove the sweet potatoes from the steamer and place in a medium sized bowl to cool.
2. Meanwhile, place the yogurt in a small bowl and add the lime juice a 1/2 teaspoon at a time, pausing to check that the flavor is to your liking. When you are satisfied, stir in the basil and set the bowl aside.
3. Once your sweet potatoes have cooled, pour the yogurt lime sauce over them, gingerly stirring so that each piece is evenly coated with the sauce. Finish with a bit of freshly cracked pepper, and garnish with more basil leaves.
Enjoy this dish with my other Thai recipes: Lemongrass and Ginger Iced Tea, Grilled Mushrooms with Tamarind Peanut Dipping Sauce, and Vegetarian Tom Kha Kai.