Grown In Eden: African Yam Dishes

Some of the best international dishes rarely make it stateside and unfortunately, yams are not immune. While it’s true that the confusion between yams and sweet potatoes exacerbates the problem, there are numerous African yam dishes that nevertheless deserve a spot on American menus. Here are a few that are more than up to the task.

Fufu

Although quite possibly the most popular yam dish in the world, fufu may seem like a peculiar finger food to the uninitiated. Similar to mashed potatoes albeit heavier and starchier, fufu is often served alongside a soup or dipping sauce. Keep it traditional and be sure to mash by hand!

  • Pro Tip: There are numerous takes on fufu featuring different base vegetables, so try substituting plantains or taro!

Potash

A comfort food throughout Western Africa, potash (porridge yams) mixes the firm texture of yams with spicy, tenderized meat to great effect. This single pot dish traditionally uses dried fish, but works equally well with chicken breasts. Try topping with hearty greens like kale or spinach to liven up your dish!

Yamaritas

Modern reinventions of yam dishes are alive and well in yamaritas. Originally designed to help yams stay soft after cooking, yamaritas are made by frying boiled yams in a spicy batter. This creates a heftier, more complex take on American french fries that can easily fit on any menu.

Yam Stew

Yam stew is a beautiful culinary canvas that combines spicy, sweet, savory, and salty flavors into a vegan masterpiece. If you have a lot of spare vegetables lying around, this is a great “chef’s special,” as it typically includes tomatoes, jalapeños, onions, and collard greens. Additionally, it’s easy to keep this dish on your menu if it gets popular, as you can easily substitute sweet potatoes for true yams!

  • Pro Tip: Yam stew often calls for peanut butter, but try using almond butter instead for a stronger nutritional profile.