Four weeks ago, I found myself in Singapore for a business trip. I would love to tell you stories about the exotic, Asian food I ate, but I won’t, because I didn’t. Though this was no ordinary business trip (we actually spent time roaming amongst locals is plenty unique neighborhoods), most of the meals happened within the confinements of a the hotel we were staying in. This hotel was neither boring, cheap, or small. There were at least twenty restaurants to choose from; most were western and expensive, with impossible to get into outposts in New York, London, and Vegas. All of it was delicious and of the best of quality. It was also familiar and very safe.
The most exotic dish I ate was room-service bibimbap, plated in a scalding hot stone pot with enough side dishes to serve a family of four. Do I regret not venturing into the gawker markets and experimenting with fish head stew or the all too classic, Anthony Bourdain approved chicken and rice? Maybe.
I like to be adventurous with my food only when I know what’s in it and where it came from. Which brings me to this week’s theme: taking risks!
When is the right time to jump all in, take a risk, and wait for the outcome to develop with time? And if we do go all out, how do we stay grounded and keep it together without unraveling into a hot mess?
I can only talk about my own experiences because they are the ones I know. With food, I am guarded. Growing up with food allergies, and developing a slew of other ones as an adult, has made me a very mindful eater. I have no doubt become a better cook because of it. I fearlessly try flavor combinations most people would rub off as weird, only to discover the most amazing stuff (hello tahini-tamari!).
But what about with everything else? How do we know when it’s best to take life-changing risks and try something new and unexpected?
I am posing this question to you, because I don’t have the answer. In all honestly I think it is a combination of being progressive and patient. A dance between carving a path for yourself and trusting good things will come. Any one decision will probably not change your life, but small productive ones should help you become who you want to be.
But whenever I decide to make a change, I depend on routines to stay rooted and grounded. It is within the everyday rituals that I am able to focus. It is by staying active every day (what’s up Shadowbox and Soul Cycle!), practicing yoga once a week, and cooking a delicious dinner on a daily basis.
Here is a recipe that feels both like a risk and a warm, comforting hug. Inspired by the melting pot of flavors found in the food of Singapore, this recipe is far from safe. Its bold flavors make each bite an adventure: sometimes sweet, sometimes spicy, and sometimes delightful. Made with a combination of both sweet potatoes and butternut squash, this curry is toothsome, hearty, and light. A tasty combination of bold spices and mellow coconut milk make for a belly warming, delightful meal that is as comforting as a routine and daring as a life changing risk!
Sweet Potato Curry
Cook time : 25-30 minutes
- 2 small sweet potatoes
- 1 cup cubed butternut squash
- 4-5 shallots, or half an onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 2 tbsp. green curry paste
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ cup coconut milk, I prefer the lighter version
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 handful fresh cilantro, with stems, plus more for plating
- 1-inch knob fresh ginger
- ½ savoy cabbage
- Wash and scrub sweet potatoes clean. Cut into 1-inch cubes.
- Peel and slice shallot. Peel garlic, and mince.
- Place a large heavy pot, such as a French oven, over medium heat.
- Add coconut oil and heat through for five minutes.
- Add potatoes, squash, shallots, and garlic. Cook, tossing occasionally for five minutes.
- Add curry paste and toss for a couple of minutes.
- Add water, coconut milk, bay leaves, cilantro, and ginger.
- Reduce heat to low and cook for seven to ten minutes. Potatoes should be tender and fully cooked.
- Add cabbage, cover and cook for another five minutes.
- Remove from heat. Garnish with a few fresh cilantro leaves and serve immediately over rice, quinoa, or your favorite grain.