My best friend and I were standing at a Brixton market stall when he asked me how do you cook African yam? As I stood there running through a few options including yam fries, I noticed the stall holder looking at me in confusion.
Being rather curious I asked him what was wrong and folks, you should have heard the horror in his voice when he informed me ‘you CAN’T fry yams’. Ten minutes of trying to convince him did absolutely no good and he was still shaking his head as I left laden with 2 huge yams and 10 plantains.
There are a few different ways to cook African yam fries but I got rather excited by this version from the blog Eating Nigerian. It involves coating the yam chips in a batter that is flavoured by the addition of finely chopped red (bell) peppers. I had completely forgotten that I used to make similar batter to coat things in Sierra Leone. So guess what I made that very same day, and the next day too? Oh and the entire week after that. Yeap, I was that much in foodie love.
These yam fries are best eaten hot and taste good dipped in some rich peanut butter gravy or a spicy scotch bonnet gravy. ‘Natin nor sweet pass dat‘, as we would say back in Sierra Leone. I do have a friend whose lunch tends to consist of yam fries stuffed into a mahoosive sandwich along with gravy and a token amount of either meat or fish. I tried that once and it was sooooooooo filling that it pretty much did for both my lunch and supper that day. It was worth every single bite though.
A little word about African yam…………
And by yam, I really mean African yam (not sweet potato which seems to be called yam in America).
Instead I mean one of 2 main types of yams. The white yam (pictured above) is a lovely white colour and is a slightly sweet tuber, cylindrical in shape with the rough brown skin. Yellow yam has yellow flesh and although externally it looks very similar to the white yam, it’s skin normally has less is grooves. Both yams taste really, really good.
Whilst researching yam recipes, I was rather surprised to find out that Nigeria is the world largest producer of African yams. Something like 70% of the worlds production of yam, worth about US$ 5 billion, is from Nigeria. That fact really blew my mind. But fair enough since yams are a staple of both Nigerian and West African cuisine. In fact in yam producing area there is a popular saying that “yam is food and food is yam”.
Where to buy African yam.
If you live in England you can get them from places like Peckham and Dalston and Brixton markets. In the Brixton stall I visited, they had both Afican yams aka the white yam, and the yellow yam. Although I was tempted to get both of them, I just went for the white yam for this recipe. For those living in other parts of the world, your best bet to find some would be to head over to your local ethnic stores and ethnic food markets and ask in there. You can also find powdered yam or yam porridge in the same places.
And oh how time flies. I have been sharing my culinary adventures with you for three whole years. And you guys are still here hanging out with me. It makes it all worth it. All the thinking, shopping, creating, testing, recreating, styling, photographing, editing, writing, hanging out on social media and this little corner here. So guys, thank you. Seriously a big big thank you.
A few blogging highlights:
- A dream come true is that my recipes will be appearing in the December 2015 issue of a printed food magazine. Yeap. Me, published. I will tell you more when the magazine hits the shelves.
- I have gone on some fantastic food press trips to discover culinary Tours as well as eating the best ever sushi in Paris and London with Sushishop.
- My sister J and I have rediscovered some of my grandmother’s Sierra Leonean recipes and I will be sharing these with you over the next year.
- My photography has continued to improve due to a whole load of practice and hanging out with some really amazing and inspiring food bloggers and hanging out on instagram (come say hello).
- I have discovered interesting combinations and flavours, a gazillion baked doughnuts recipes (watch this space), cheesy baked plantains and rose petal pesto.
- I have collaborated with some really awesome brands producing content on my blog, on their websites and for their ebooks.
- Folks, I am doing what I love and I will not change it for the world.
Here is to year four and beyond. And shall we please make a date for year five too?
Enough celebrating for now. Here is how to cook African yam fries one way. Please do try them and if you do make thm, then please do tag #recipesfromapantry on Instagram or twitter so that I can pop over and have a look. It is really, really awesome for me when you make any one of my recipes.
Thank you for reading this African yam fries recipe post. And please come visit again as I continue dreaming up recipes, traditional African recipes, African fusion recipes, Sierra Leone recipes, travel plans and much more for you.
- 1/2 medium tuber of yam , peeled, cut into fries and rinsed
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 red bell pepper very finely diced
- Oil for deep frying
- Place yam fries in pot, cover with water and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until yam is cooked through. Make sure it is not too soft or it all goes mushy. Mine took about 10 mins of simmering.
- In a large bowl, mix flour and water together into a paste before adding in the egg, pepper and salt. Gently mix in the yam fries and coat them with the batter.
- Heat the oil on medium high heat until it is hot enough for deep frying and using a spoon, scoop one yam fry at a time along with some batter and drop into the oil. Don't put too many in the pot at the same time. Fry until golden, turn them over and repeat on the other side.
- Remove yam fries from the oil unto paper towel to drain the excess oil, store in a warm place and cook the rest of the fries.
- Serve warm with a chilli or peanut butter gravy.
Slightly adapted from Eating Nigerian.