Martinique Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Aubergine and Pineapple

29 Sep

The inspiration for this recipe came from watching a farmer harvesting his sweet potatoes. They look really beautiful coming out of the ground, their terracotta skin mirroring the colour of the soil, lying there baking in the warmth of the sun.

Martinique, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, is part of the French Caribbean.  The first European to encounter the island was Christopher Columbus in 1502. Its official language is French, although many of its inhabitants also speak Créole Martiniquais.

Martinique has a hybrid cuisine, mixing elements of African, French, Caribbean and South Asian traditions. One of its most famous dishes is a unique curry with chicken and vegetables, made with a distinctive masala (spice mix) of Tamil (Indian) origin called Colombo

The original curry recipe uses tamarind, coconut milk, yam (cassava) and rum.  Martiniquan desserts and cakes incorporate pineapple, rum, and a wide range of local fruits.

I first came across this curry while watching Levi Roots Caribbean Food Made Easy. You may have noticed that I have a slight Caribbean food obsession going on at the moment, it all started with the mountain of scotch bonnet chilli peppers I have growing on a bush on my roof terrace that are now in my freezer. The plant is now producing its second harvest of the year.

In Levi’s version he uses butternut squash, aubergine and potatoes with his chicken and adds some mango and papaya too.  I thought sweet potatoes would be a lovely substitute for the original yams and  went with Levi’s aubergine as well. The aubergine just melts into the sauce, thickening it and bringing everything together, it’s genius. In the absence of mango or papaya I added some fresh pineapple and it works.

This is a spicy, sweet, exotic tasting curry with a real taste of the Caribbean..

Martinique Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Aubergine & Pineapple

Serves 4, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Levi Roots Caribbean Food Made Easy

For the Colombo Spice Mix: makes about 3/4 cup can be halved. Store in an airtight container

  • 3 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds (I didn’t have any so left it out)
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 3 tbsp ground turmeric

In a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, toast all the whole spices (not the turmeric) until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 or 3 minutes. Don’t take your eyes of them, they will burn. Remove from the heat and tip into a spice grinder or mortar & pestle and grind to a powder.

Toast the turmeric in the same pan over a medium hight heat until fragrant & lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Combine the turmeric with the rest of the spices and store in an airtight container.

For the Curry:

  • 1 tbsp Colombo powdered spice mix (see above)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 scotch bonnet chillis (mine are small) use 1 large one, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large aubergine, cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 3 small green peppers (the long small frying peppers) deseeded and 2cm diced
  • 1 tin coconut milk (400 ml)
  • 400 ml veg stock
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 small pineapple, core removed, cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 2 tbsp dark rum (optional)
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped plus leaves for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat then add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Then add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add in the aubergine and sweet potato cubes and cook for about 4 minutes until just softening and turning golden brown. Stir the spice mix through to coat all the vegetables, cook for a further 2 minutes and season with 1 tsp salt.

Pour in the coconut milk and veg stock then add the tamarind paste and bay leaves. Stir well and bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and continue to simmer for 30-40 minutes until the aubergine has melted into the sauce and the sweet potato is soft.

Add in the pineapple, lime juice and rum (if using), stir well, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning, add more salt if necessary and stir through the chopped coriander.

Serve with plain basmati rice or roti bread to scoop up the delicious sauce.

Close you eyes and you can almost hear the waves gently lapping at the shore and the warm breeze in the palm trees.


24 Responses to “Martinique Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Aubergine and Pineapple”

  1. Savorique September 29, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    The look of this soup reminds me of the lentil soup somehow. What a great way to enjoy aubergine once again. You’re the eggplant Queen!

  2. ceciliag September 29, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    I will enjoy, I love curries! and with the fruit flavours as well it sounds great.. c

  3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide September 29, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    I enjoyed reading this. I tend to think of the American South when I think of sweet potatoes, and of course that’s not the only place that loves/grows them. Great post and recipe.

  4. Caroline September 29, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    That looks so hearty and delicious. What a great soup! The shot of the sweet potato crop is too cool.

  5. peasepudding September 29, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    I love curry and sweet potato but I can’t get hubby to eat anything with fruit in it, apart from that he will eat anything. I am lucky to be able to close my eyes and hear the waves every day but they pound the shore here not lap…must post some pics one day

  6. Kelly September 29, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    Yummy this looks delicious, I love all the flavors! 🙂

  7. Christine September 29, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    Looks wonderful.

  8. frugalfeeding September 30, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    Surely this is the most perfectly autumnal dish ever? It looks AMAZING.

  9. Joanne September 30, 2011 at 3:57 am #

    What a beautiful curry dish!

  10. tiffany September 30, 2011 at 4:09 am #

    3 scotch bonnets?!?!??!!!!!!!!!! This curry is no joke! 😀

  11. happywhennothungry September 30, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    What a beautiful curry! I love that touch of the Caribbean in there as well. Yum!

  12. chicaandaluza September 30, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    You do make the most amazing curry dishes. even though I love chillies, can´t imagine using 3 scotch bonnets though. You were wise to use less!

  13. Juanita September 30, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Another entirely mouthwatering recipe! I really favour the use of coconut milk in curries. It lends a wonderful flavour. And such a wonderful photo, seeing all those freshly harvested sweet potatoes lying on the ground!

  14. Xina Lynn October 1, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    Very interesting! I tried a Brazilian pineapple and sweet potato soup once… that one was alright. This one looks so much more interesting! You really can’t beat a good curry.

  15. Beth Michelle October 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    The flavors in this sound so incredible. Especially the pineapple. YUM. Definitely a curry I would love to try!

  16. Mandy Vellacott October 6, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    Just made this and cant stop eating it!!!! its really gorgeous. Another triumph!!

  17. janet @ the taste space October 30, 2011 at 2:55 am #

    Just made this today. Super delicious! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • foodblogandthedog October 30, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

      You’re so welcome, I’m really glad you enjoyed it and thanks for letting me know!

  18. Rachel White October 2, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    This is the yummiest dish I think I have ever made! Thanks!

    • Natalie Ward October 2, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

      So glad you loved it! Thanks for reminding me about it, must make it again soon!

  19. The Mistress of Spices January 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    I can’t believe I missed this one. Sounds absolutely delicious with the fresh colombo, Scotch bonnets and coconut milk. And I love your choice of veggies too. Will have to make this ASAP!

  20. The Mistress of Spices September 12, 2013 at 2:15 am #

    I made this last night and it was delish! I didn’t have any Scotch bonnets so substituted Thai chilies and some African-style chili paste made by hubby (with habaneros). I also skipped the pineapple and instead served a spicy guava compote on the side for some sweetness. Lastly I had Colombo spice mix on hand from my last trip to France so used that instead of making my own. All in all – wonderful! Will become a regular meal in our house. Thanks so much for the recipe!


  1. Martinique Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Eggplant and Pineapple « the taste space – steam, bake, boil, shake! - February 3, 2012

    […] is a curry I spotted on Natalie’s lovely blog, Cook Eat Live Vegetarian, and again it passed my checklist for Rob: tamarind, coconut, curry, sweet potato (or squash) and […]

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