Asaro (Yam Porridge)
Asaro, also known as Ebe (pronounced eh-beh) is a Nigerian dish native to the Yorubas. I’m not exactly sure what region it originated from, but I do know it’s a traditional Yoruba dish. It is very similar to Ikokore, in the sense that its yam cooked in a mix of blended peppers. The only difference is that Ikokore uses water yam while Asaro uses regular yam.
It’s a one pot meal and doesn’t take too long to prepare.
To make Asaro, here’s what you’ll need:
1 m tuber of yam
1 large red bell pepper
1 m red onion
2 cloves garlic
Ginger (same size as 2 garlic cloves)
3 plum tomatoes (or 1 m/l regular tomato)
3 scotch bonnet peppers
Handful kpanla or stock fish (boil to soften)
1 tbsp Adobo seasoning
1 tsbp Curry powder
2 knorr cubes
2 bay leaves
3-4 cups water
1/2 cup Canola oil
1/2 cup Palm oil
1. Rinse tuber of yam to rid it of dirt, sand etc. Cut into thick rounds.
2. Peel off outer skin.
3. Cut out any dark areas in the yam (like the areas above the knife in above pic: use tip of knife to do this). Cut each round into cubes (first cut in half, then cut each half into another half etc). Add cold water to a large bowl and rinse yam cubes. Drain and add more clean, cold water. Add cubed yam into cold water (to prevent yam from changing color).
4. Set aside for a few minutes (I refrigerated it).
5. Heat pot over medium heat. Cut and blend red bell peppers, onion, tomatoes, scotch bonnet peppers, garlic and ginger. Add 3-4 cups water to blended mix. Add Canola and palm oil to pot. Add blended peppers etc. Cover and let boil over medium heat for 10 minutes.
6. Add seasonings (knorr, curry, adobo, bay leaves). Stir, let boil for 5 minutes still over medium heat. Add cubed yam (careful, so pepper doesn’t splash; reduce heat if necessary). Drain kpanla (if soaked in water) and add to boiling pepper.
(If you reduced heat, turn it back up to medium.)
7. Stir and let cook for 20-25 minutes or till yam is fork tender. Once soft, use a potato masher to mash, back of a serving spoon or a fork. *Mash and stir – I like some yam chunks, so I didn’t mash everything*
8. Turn off heat. Voila!
Serve while hot with meat of your choice.
*I plated it with goat meat and chicken*
Conversely, instead of cutting up the yam first, you could cut and boil the pepper first, and while that is boiling, start on the yam. Totally up to you of course, either way works just fine. If 3 scotch bonnet peppers is just too much (or three much, haha!) just use 1 0r 2, all depending on how much heat you can handle.
It’s a refreshing departure from eating rice (or whatever) all the time. I prefer to store this in a bowl as opposed to keeping leftovers in the pot in the fridge. That way, you can microwave however much you need (or all of it) without having to add water which might alter the texture and taste.
You can also add your cooked meat to the pot along with the yam and kpanla if you prefer. Once you make it the first time, you can alter the recipe to your preferences the next go round.
Here’s a video tutorial of a really adorable older lady making Asaro!