Sweet Potato Curry

On our first trip to Bali, I was hosting a Yoga Retreat in Ubud  and we were lucky enough to participate in a Food is Medicine Vegetarian Cooking Class with the wonderful Janet De Neefe from the Casa Luna cooking school. Janet De Neefe is well known in Bali and internationally for her amazing authentic Balinese food and love of all things Balinese. Her book ‘The Food of My Island Home’ is a fabulous addition to any cooking book shelf.

The cooking class was incredible as we were able to feel, touch, smell and taste a huge range of medicinal herbs and spices as well as learning about their healing properties. Together our group hand ground the spices and chopped the vegetables before sitting down to our medicinal vegetarian feast. Included was a small booklet with recipes and it is from here that I have taken this recipe. Traditionally this is made with pumpkin and called Kare Waluh, however, we had lots of sweet potatoes this year so we decided to give it a go with sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin. Now while we cannot get all of the ingredients, Janet very kindly suggested alternatives, for example, replacing candle nuts with a similar textured nut like macadamias, almonds or brazil nuts. I like macadamia as they really add a richness, of course, if you can get your hands on some candle nuts fantastic – how authentic!

If you are in Ubud, I highly recommend getting along to one of the Casa Luna cooking classes as it was truly a magical experience.

Spice Paste

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 long red chilli, seeded, roughly chopped
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh galangal
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped ginger
  • 3 candle nuts or a handful of brazil or macadamia nuts
  • 3 teaspoons of grated palm sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of salt


  • Place all the ingredients in a processor and grind until a smooth paste.


  • 3 tablespoons of oil
  • 250gms of sweet potato
  • 3 lime leaves
  • 2 lemon grass
  • 1 – 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon of fried shallots
  • extra palm sugar to taste
  • salt to taste
  • fresh lemon basil


  • Heat the oil in wok over a medium heat
  • Add the spice paste an cook until fragrant – around 30 seconds
  • Add the lemongrass and lime leaves, toss for 30 seconds then follow with the chopped sweet potato and fry for about 2 minutes
  • Add the water and simmer until the sweet potato is cooked and tender
  • Add the coconut milk, fried shallots more palm sugar if desired and salt to season
  • Simmer gently until slightly thickened
  • Serve with rice and fresh lemon basil if you like

Delicious – now sit down with family and friends and dig in!