Vegan sweet potato and chickpea "kulhimas"

 I've been thinking about creating vegan versions of our traditional dishes for a while now. In the Maldives, fish is a key ingredient in most of our meals, so coming up with vegan alternatives has been quite a challenge. I decided to start with kulhimas, a popular local curry usually served with roshi (flatbread). My goal is to make our cuisine accessible to vegans, so I substituted the fish with sweet potato as I think it goes well with the spicy sauce and used chickpeas for protein.

The sweet potatoes I roasted before I added to the sauce because I wanted to give it some texture and hopefully hold its shape. My original kulhimas recipe uses a curry paste of coconut but I found that it didnt work so well with these ingredients so used a thin coconut milk as a replacement.

Recipe: Vegan sweet potato and chickpea "kulhimas".

Serves 1-2


  • 1 cup cubed orange sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas ( boiled or canned)
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic ( 2 if large)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 3/4 tsp- 1 tsp dried red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp tomato paste
  • 6 curry leaves
  • 4 inch pandan leaf, cut into large pieces
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk (optional)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2-3 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 piece lime.


  1. Season the sweet potato cubes with a little salt, pepper and pinch of red chilli powder and a tablespoon of vegetable oil and pop into a preheated oven of 200 Degrees C for 15-20 minutes to lightly brown. Remove and set aside.
  2. Take a small casserole or pot, heat oil over medium heat add the onions and saute until it starts to translucent and lightly coloured.
  3. Add the curry leaves and pandan leaf and stir fry. Stir in garlic, ginger and tomato paste along with the spices. Stir to mix, add water and coconut milk (if using). Cook for a minute, then add the sweet potatoes and chickpeas. Stir, and then cover and cook over low heat for about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Check every now and then, stir, and if it seems to be catching at the bottom, add a splash of water. 
  5. Taste, and add salt. It it seems too spicy for you add a little sugar.
  6. Once the liquid has almost evaporated and the oil separated, squeeze a little lime juice and then switch off. Serve with roshi.