Sweet potato cakes

sweet potato mixture

Plenty, 288pp.
by Yotam Ottolenghi
Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2011
Cooking on page 32

Yotam Ottolenghi is a popular Israeli-born British chef who is known for his superb vegetarian recipes. Plenty is his second cookbook and this is the second time I have cooked one of his recipes. The first one was caramelized fig, orange and feta salad.

He says the recipe here was inspired by the legendary sweet potato cakes he could buy at a small café, Orna and Ella’s, in Tel Aviv during his university days.

As a child, I wasn’t too keen on sweet potato, squash and/or pumpkin dishes, except for pumpkin pie. I think it was because my mother often added brown sugar to what was, in my mind, supposed to be a savoury vegetable dish.

So let’s see how this one turned out.

Sweet potatoes cakes

Sweet potato cakes

2¼ lbs peeled sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks
2 tsp soy sauce
scant ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
3 tbsp chopped green onion
½ tsp finely chopped fresh red chile (or more if you want them hot)
plenty of butter for frying

3 tbsp Greek yogurt
3 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)
salt and black pepper

sweet potato, sour cream and yogurt cilantro, lemon and oil frying sweet potato cakes

Steam the sweet potatoes until completely soft, then leave in a colander to drain for at least an hour.

To make the sauce. Whisk together all the sauce ingredients until smooth; set aside.

Once the sweet potatoes have lost most of their liquid, place them in a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients (except the butter). Mix everything together, preferably by hand, until the mix is smooth and even; do not over mix. The mixture should be sticky; if it’s runny add some more flour.

Melt some butter in a non-stick frying pan. For each cake, use a tablespoon to life some mix into the pan and flatten with the back of the spook to create a not-too-perfect disc that is roughly 2 inches in diameter and 3/8-inch thick. Fry the cakes on medium heat for about 6 minutes on each side, or until you get a nice brown crust. Place in between two sheets of paper towels to soak up the excess butter. Serve hot or warm, with the sauce on the side.

How it played out
Over the years I’ve come to love sweet potatoes, but I still prefer them with a savoury, rather than a sweet, twist.

I love all the ingredients for this recipe, so I made it as written, except that I didn’t bother to soak up the excess butter. Frankly, I didn’t use too much butter to begin with so didn’t feel the need to get rid of what was left.

Ottolenghi plenty cookbook

If you like sweet potatoes, or even if you think you don’t, give this recipe a try. It’s easy to make, nourishing, colourful and delicious. And the sauce is the perfect accompaniment. I bought more sweet potatoes and yogurt today, so we must like it. 🙂

Serve these as a side dish, or make them smaller and serve as an appetiser or a snack with drinks. Use the sauce as a dipper. I reckon everyone will love them.

We love potatoes. Here’s a link to a street-side breakfast stall where we ate wonderful Indian potato cakes. Yummo!


About leggypeggy

Intrepid overland traveller, keen photographer, avid cook—known to jump out of airplanes and do other silly things. Do not act my age.
This entry was posted in Dairy, Side dish, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Sweet potato cakes

  1. Fiona says:

    I’m going to give this a try. Looks delish. I’ve been experimenting with sweet potato and just last night had a Moroccan-inspired made-up salad with roasted sweet potato and butternut. It’s the second time I’ve made it, and it went down a treat, so next time I make it, I’m going to do the obligatory photographs before posting. And like you, prefer the savoury to the sweet….

  2. The addition of soy sounds great. I have friends who rave about this cookbook. Yum! (I am another in the savory camp.)

  3. Sheryl says:

    The sauce looks delightful and like it would really enhance the flavor of the sweet potato cakes.. The recipe is somewhat similar to a Sweet Potato Balls recipe that I made a month or so ago. I’m now thinking that if I made that recipe again that I’ll serve it with a yogurt sauce.

  4. This looks absolutely delicious. Did you have difficulty with the butter burning? I always find butter hard to control and wonder if cooking these with olive oil would be a really bad idea? I’m not a great cook and these look doable except for me and the burned butter issue. Guess I could try with butter and see how it goes.

    • leggypeggy says:

      Oh Sharon, I know what you mean about controlling butter. I might have added a teaspoon of oil, but am not sure. My notes say I followed the recipe. But I did cook them in a non-stick pan and didn’t use lashings of butter. In the pic of the cakes in the frying pan, I can see the butter browning. But these were so darn delicious, the butter must not have burnt. Alternatively, you could try with ghee.

  5. tony says:

    We are also fans of Ottolenghi. It is interesting that his recipe without the flavourings or the sauce is very similar to what my mother used to make with left over mashed potato cooked in more butter (sometimes mixed with oil) than we’d use these days. As kids we used to love them. The flour made a nice crispy coating over the potato like your photo above. Will give it a try!
    A mix of sweet & mashed potato would also be good. My mother occasionally used mashed pumpkin with the potato but as kids we didn’t like change! Taking the potato out of the refrigerator made making the potato cakes easier. I don’t know if you’ve tried this.


    • leggypeggy says:

      Lovely memories of the potato cakes your mother used to make. I had to laugh at you kids not liking change when she tried pumpkin. So typical. And yes, it’s much easier to work with cold potatoes. Thanks for stopping by!

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