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Caribbean Food Made Easy
by Levi Roots

I call floury potatoes 'Irish potatoes'. Being more of a rarity than the normal sweet potatoes in the Caribbean, they were regarded as a delicacy when I was growing up. This recipe uses both types.
Serves 6-8


    • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) sweet potatoes
    • 500g (1 lb 2oz) King Edward potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
    • 6 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 1 red and 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
    • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 3 tsp ground cumin
    • salt and pepper
    • 250g (9 oz) cooked peeled prawns, cut into chunks if they are very big
    • leaves from 1 small bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
    • 5 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for coating

    • 2 avocados, roughly chopped
    • 200g (7 oz) well-flavoured tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
    • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
    • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
    • juice of 1/2 lime
    • 4 tbsp olive oil
    • West Indian hot sauce, to taste
    • salt and pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Bake the sweet potatoes until completely tender - about 30 minutes for skinny ones and 45 minutes to 1 hour for large ones. Test for tenderness with the point of a knife. Boil the King Edwards until tender Drain and leave to cool. When all the potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and discard.

2. Heat 1½ tbsp of the oil in a frying pan and saute the onion and chilli until soft but not coloured Add the garlic and cumin and cook for another 2 minutes to release the smell of the spice Mash this together with the sweet potato flesh, ordinary potato flesh, salt and pepper, prawns and coriander. Add the flour and incorporate it. Taste the mixture to check the seasoning, cover it, then put it in the fridge to firm up a little.

3. With floured hands, form the mixture into patties a little smaller than a burger - it will make about 16. You should be able to bring the mixture together in your hands without it falling apart - gradually add more flour if it is very loose. The mixture will be sticky but it will work once you get it into the pan. Give each cake a light coating of flour. If you're making these in advance (and it's a good idea), put the patties on a baking sheet, cover with clingfilm and keep in the fridge.

4. Make the salsa no more than 30 minutes before you want to serve it, otherwise the avocado can go a sludgy green colour. Mix all the ingredients together and cover the salsa.

5. Heat some of the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the cakes until golden and hot through - about 3-4 minutes a side. You'll have to do them in batches. Add more oil as you need it Keep the cooked ones warm in a low oven and, when they're all ready, serve immediately with the salsa.

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