This recipe came from S’s cutting edge Good Housekeeping book and is guaranteed to turn you into a culinary genius in the eyes of your guests.  A great dish to prepare well in advance – it tastes even better after a day or two – and has been perfect for large gatherings where you would actually like to chat to people rather than be surgically attached to the hob. 

Serve with chopped tomatoes, onions, a little lime juice (if your onions are feral) and lots of fresh coriander, poppadum, mango chutney, raita and creme fraiche.  M and S do some very good onion bhajis if you fancy them but don’t want to make them from scratch.  All this can be prepared/bought the day before, leaving you to dispense the drinks and cook the rice (4 parts water to 3 parts rice, boil, turn down, simmer for 11 minutes – perfect basmati rice).

I have made this with a variety of vegetables, left out the mushrooms, forgot the peanut butter etc. and it still tastes outstanding.  A feast.  Very very hungry now.

African Sweet Potato and Spinach Stew
Serves 4
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40-45 minutes
60ml (4tsp) groundnut oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
10ml (2tsp) grated fresh root ginger
1.25ml (quarter teaspoon) cayenne pepper
15ml (1tbsp) mild or medium curry paste
350g (12oz) peeled sweet potatoes, cubed
300ml (half pint) passata
300ml (half pint) vegetable stock
225g (8oz) button mushrooms
225g (8oz) spinach leaves, roughly shredded
60ml (4 tbsp) peanut butter
30ml (2tbsp) chopped fresh coriander
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped coriander to garnish
1. Heat 45ml (3tbsp) oil in a saucepan, add the onion, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper and fry gently for 10 minutes. Add the curry paste; cook, stirring for 1 minute
2. Add the sweet potatoes, stir to coat with the onion mixture and fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the passata and stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are almost tender.
3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan, add the mushrooms and stir fry for 4-5 minutes until golden and beginning to release their juices. Add to the potatoes with the shredded spinach and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
4. Mix a few spoonfuls of the stew juices with the peanut butter to soften it,  then stir back in to the pan. Add the coriander, season with salt and pepper to taste and heat through.
5. Scatter over plenty of coriander and serve.