I’m always on the lookout for new recipes. I have a collection of more recipes than I can ever actually make, probably, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting more. So whenever our weekend errands include getting my husband a haircut, I happily wait for him while perusing the salon (“salon” sounds awfully girly and expensive, and this place is neither, but it’s not a barber shop because they cater to men and women, so what else can I call it?)’s magazines. If I find something I like, I’ll copy it down in my iPhone, or if I’m in a hurry I’ll take pictures with my iPhone and hope that the text won’t be too blurry to decipher later. My magazine of choice is Real Simple, which I kind of want to subscribe to, but I’m not really motivated to since I can get it for free at the haircutting place. Ha!

The last time we went, I couldn’t find the latest issue of Real Simple, so I wound up looking at Women’s Health. Not the kind of magazine I’d immediately reach for in a waiting room, but I’m glad I did because I found a bunch of yummy-looking recipes, this one included. I furiously copied it into my iPhone and emailed it to my mom and sister, then a couple of days later I found an excuse to make it.

This is a really good stew, but I think it could use some improvements.  I definitely liked it better the second day, when I served it over couscous (rice would be good too) – without it, the stew didn’t seem substantial enough. My hubby and I agreed that it would be better with some shredded chicken in it, too. And I might bulk it up even more with a second can of chickpeas – if I were to keep this strictly vegetarian and skipped the shredded meat, I’d definitely add another can of chickpeas.

I was surprised, given all the cumin and curry powder, that this stew isn’t at all spicy. It definitely has lots of flavor, but hardly any heat. And that’s perfectly fine if that’s what you’re looking for, but I like my curries to be spicy.  Next time I make this (and there will definitely be a next time), I’ll add 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes in step 2, when you add the curry powder and cumin.

Curried sweet potato and chickpea stew

adapted from Women’s Health, April 2010

1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cups sliced onion
2 c coarsely chopped red bell pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 qt low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
4 c peeled 1/2 inch pieces of sweet potato or butternut squash
1 (or 2) cans chickpeas, drained
1 cup light coconut milk
1 cup shredded cooked chicken (optional)
1/4 c finely chopped cilantro
3/8 tsp ground black pepper

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in onion and bell pepper; cook for 8 minutes or until tender.

2. Stir in curry powder, cumin,  crushed red pepper, if using, and 1/4 tsp salt, cook 2 minutes. Add broth and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

3. Remove 1 cup of potatoes and mash with a fork. Stir mashed potatoes back into pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes to allow mixture to thicken. Stir in chickpeas, coconut milk, shredded chicken, if using, cilantro and black pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until warm throughout. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and serve, over brown rice or couscous if desired.

Makes four servings.