The outstanding kitchen supply store Le Sanctuaire used to operate a brick and mortar store near my brother’s place in Southern California. Some years ago, I visited and the proprietor, who sources the spices and spice blends herself, introduced me to vadouvan, a French interpretation of masala that incorporates slices of shallots and garlic as well as ground turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, cardamom, coriander, curry leaf, salt, and nutmeg. Toss with oil and roast until a deep golden brown.
Here’s one of the first dishes I ever made with vadouvan. I first made this about five years ago, thinking that the spice seemed somewhat acrid and needed something sweet to bring it up. Last night, I served it to friends with a spice-rubbed roast chicken and an oyster mushroom fricassee.
Batata is a type of sweet potato common in Latin American cooking. When first peeled, its flesh is snow white. If you don’t have batata, feel free to substitute sweet potato, preferably of a less-sweet variety.
1 lb carrots, peeled, 2-inch lengths
2 batata, peeled and cut into chunks
4-9 tbsp butter (depending on desired richness), divided
1 scant tbsp vadouvan (if using a powdered form, use 1 scant tsp)
Braise the carrots in 1 tbsp butter and a little water with vadouvan until tender. At the same time, simmer the batata in lightly salted water until tender and the drain. Place both the batata and carrots through a ricer or food mill and fold to incorporate all seasoning evenly. Loosen with a little warm water if necessary. Add butter and season with salt and a pinch of white pepper.
Pass through a tamis using a flat silicone paddle to achieve a fine texture. Serve with roasted or braised chicken, bitter greens.