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Creamy Nettle, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry

29 May 20

by Susannah Phillipson

 

Hello Salisbury Centre community, 

 

It’s me again, Susannah, back with another delicious recipe and some stinging nettle appreciation!

 

Two years ago I went to Romania to stay with my dear friend Claude – a permaculturist and a FANTASTIC chef – who taught me this recipe. One of our aims that summer was to learn about, gather and dry wild herbs for making medicinal teas, and quite honestly I expected it to be a journey of discovering new and unusual plants with powerful properties that I would not find at home. 

 

And what did I find? The most potent medicines I found had been trying to catch my attention all of my life. 

 

Dandelion, plantain leaf, nettle, yarrow – they grow through cracks in the pavement trying with all their might to say “Hey! You! I can make you better!” They have been travelling with humans for thousands of years, and yet – precisely because they’re so commonplace – we rarely pay attention. Why is it that we expect everything that’s good for us to come at a price?

 

If stinging nettles weren’t such a prolific and generous plant, they would be right up there with spirulina powder and goji berries, sold as expensive superfoods in every health food shop. Nettles are incredible. Their deep roots allow them to access nutrients that other plants cannot reach, making it available to us! They contain high levels of iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, and more chlorophyll than almost any other plant (cleansing the blood, energising the body, and boosting the immune system). 

 

Check out these graphs from The Homestead Laboratory that show how nettles (and also lambsquarter (AKA Fat Hen, another fave)) measure up against commercial greens. These are not just plants you could eat for bushcraft survival, they are a plants for eating as part of your regular diet:

 

 

And if that wasn’t enough, nettles are also DELICIOUS. I always feel like Pop-Eye after I’ve eaten nettles, and they bring a rich, minerally, salty flavour in place of spinach.

 

 

To harvest nettles, choose a patch where they are still fairly young and haven’t started flowering yet. Pick the top 4 – 6 leaves, and leave the rest of the fibrous stem. Wear rubber/garden gloves if you don’t want to get stung, but if you’re brave nettle stings are also tremendously good for circulation! In fact, it was the Romans who brought nettles to the UK, to whip themselves with to keep warm while they invaded Ancient Britain! This is a practice known as Urtication, helpful for arthritic pain, which you can read more about here.

 

 

Creamy nettle, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry recipe

 

 

This recipe is my absolute favourite thing to cook with nettles. The nettles and spices get cooked and blended into a coconutty sauce, while texture and sweetness comes from chickpeas and sweet potato. It was a fun process writing down the recipe as I cooked it – I’ve never written it down before! You will need a hand blender.

 

Some things I learned from Claude about making curry are: 

 

  1. Don’t be shy with the spices!
  2. Putting in crushed or blended garlic and ginger at the END of cooking really lifts the flavour. I have a special contraption for this called a garlic grater plate which I swear by, but you could also grate, crush or blend it. Equally, if you aren’t a fan of strong flavours, you could put these in at the beginning.
  3. An extra glug of olive oil at the end makes all the difference 🙂

 

Serves 6

(it freezes well if you have extra portions, and is even tastier after a night in the fridge!)

 

Ingredients

 

2 onions, diced

2 heaped tbsp coconut oil (other cooking oils would also work)

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 ½ tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp garam masala

2 tbsp curry powder

400-600g cooked chickpeas

3 sweet potatoes (around 600g)

1 tin coconut milk (the more concentrated the better)

400g nettle tops, rinsed

1 litre vegetable stock

4 garlic cloves

5cm ginger root

Glug of olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Optional toppings: chopped coriander, squeezed lime and toasted flaked almonds

 

Serve with brown rice.

 

 

Method

 

  1. Cook the onions in 1 tbsp of the coconut oil, in a big pot on medium heat until they’re translucent (you could add in the garlic and ginger here if you don’t want them to be so strong).

 

  1. Add the spices along with another tablespoon of coconut oil, and stir with a wooden spoon til fragrant.

 

  1. Tip in the nettle tops, and pour the stock over them. Stir until they begin to wilt, then put the lid on to cook down for 5 minutes.

 

  1. Meanwhile, peel and chop the sweet potatoes into bite-sized chunks.

 

  1. Once the nettles have cooked down, blend the spicy nettle mixture. Then add in the chunks of sweet potato and the cooked chickpeas to the green slime, and continue cooking until the sweet potatoes are cooked (about 10 minutes) with the lid off to thicken up the sauce.

 

 

  1. When the sweet potatoes are cooked, turn off the heat. Now is the time to add the blended/grated/crushed garlic and ginger. Whatever contraption you are using, the aim is to get them as mushy as possible, and to mix them with a good glug of oil. Here is a picture of my marvelous garlic grater plate which does the job like a dream:

 

  1. Add the oiled up garlic-ginger mush into the curry along with the tin of coconut oil, and give everything a good stir to combine the flavours. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

 

  1. Serve with brown rice, along with optional toppings of chopped coriander, a squeeze of lime and toasted flaked almonds.

 

YUM YUM YUM YOU CAN THANK ME LATER 🙂

 

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