These Sri Lankan Spiced Sweet Potatoes will add a little excitement to your holiday dinner table—a big step up from the typical sweet potato mush.

Spiced with cardamom and cinnamon, laced with basil, and loaded with caramelized onions, these sweet potatoes retain just enough of the typical holiday flare to compliment the turkey and the stuffing. This aromatic dish incorporates all six tastes: a must for truly satiating food.

Sweet is found in the sweet potatoes as well as the onions, sour in the lime juice, salty in the Himalayan salt, pungent in the cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper, bitter in the basil, and astringent in the turmeric.

These sweet potatoes are particularly balancing for vata types, especially during vata season. They digest well and taste exotically delicious!

Sri Lankan Spiced Sweet Potatoes

Baked sweet potato

Serves: 6


  • 2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes (about 2 ½ lbs total)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 4 sprigs of basil (about 40 leaves)
  • 1 ½ onions
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice


  • 1. Scrub the sweet potatoes. Halve them lengthwise and then cut crosswise into ¾ inch pieces for bite-sized chunks.
  • 2. Put them into a pot, cover with water, add the turmeric, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 to 6 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender but still have some cooking left to go (test them by piercing them with a fork). Drain and set aside.
  • 3. Put the ghee or coconut oil into a large cast iron or frying pan and set the heat to medium high. When the oil’s hot (flick a few drops of water in; your oil’s ready when they sizzle), add the cardamom pods.
  • 4. Give them a quick stir, then add the basil and stir again. Add the onions, and then add the cinnamon. Stir and fry for about 5 minutes until the onions are lightly browned.
  • 5. Now add the drained sweet potatoes. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • 6. Add the pepper, salt, and lime juice. Turn the heat to medium low and continue to stir and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  • 7. Remove the cardamom pods and add more salt or pepper as needed.


Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian.