Yam at Staples Corner


Welcome to ‘Staples Corner’!

I’m looking forward to sharing how I enjoy African staples like yam, plantain, cassava, cocoa yam, rice and sweet potatoes.

They’re easy to find, easy to cook and a satisfying addition to your eating experience!

I find they go down well with traditional dishes like savoury pies, roasts and stews, once you see how easy they are to cook, I’m sure you’ll find so many ways to enjoy them.

Let’s start with yam.

An excellent alternative to potato – chipped, boiled, mashed or baked – you can treat them the same.

Apparently Usain Bolt’s mum made yam an important part of his diet – he seems to have done quite well on it!

There are many types of yam, varying in size, flavour and colour, from white to yellow to purple, depending on the type. Their skins are brown and often hairy and resemble the bark of a tree. You can find them in some supermarkets and also in just about any Afro-Caribbean and Asian food shop.

One of my favourites is Ghana’s pale yellow fleshed variety, puna, for its fluffy texture and distinctive taste.    In America, the term yam is used to describe the orange sweet potato, but in my blog I’m talking about yam as Africans know it.


Yam pieces



You don’t have to buy a whole yam, most shops will sell you half a yam or a piece. Always discard the ends.



Peeling yam



Simply peel, slice and chop into bite-size chunks, then put in a pan of salted boiling water, for roughly 10-12 minutes until it’s soft enough to stab through with a sharp knife.


Yam pieces for chips and mashing









Tip – For best results, cook the yam on a rolling boil, if you reduce to a simmer, it becomes water-logged and soggy.

Turmeric boiled yam


Sometimes I add turmeric (about a heaped teaspoon) to the boiling water. Once it’s cooked, the yam has that golden look of butternut squash and when you cut through it, the creamy-white inside is a beautiful contrast!





Yam chunky chips



For chips, bring the thumbed-sized, chunky chipped pieces to the boil, leave to vigorously boil for about 3 minutes, drain, dry and shallow or deep-fry. A favourite with my gang is served with fried eggs and baked beans.




Feel free to tell us your favourite way with yam.


Some of these dishes can be found in my book

A Plate in the Sun



Butter-mashed Yam

Butter-mashed yam with black pepper


Herby mashed yam

Herb & spring onion mashed yam


Yam-topped Shepherds pie

Yam-topped Shepherds pie


Crunchy yam balls

Crunchy yam balls coated with gari – cassava grains


Oto - golden mashed yam

Oto – golden mashed yam. A classic Ghanaian celebratory dish topped with eggs and crispy fried onions

5 Replies to "Yam at Staples Corner"

  • comment-avatar
    Wots September 21, 2014 (3:40 pm)

    Hi Patti

    How about a sunday morning breakfast:

    leftover mashed yam fried into fritters + 2 fried eggs + tea = happy

    • comment-avatar
      Patti Sloley September 21, 2014 (4:25 pm)

      Ha ha I like that, sounds good! add some onions and peas or whatever leftover veg you have and hey presto!! bubble and squeak

  • comment-avatar
    Raby October 1, 2014 (9:18 am)

    Some of the recipes on here are my absolute favourites for Ghanaian dishes. What stood out to me most is the various ways yam can be cooked and enjoyed. I’ve tried the yam balls and the Oto (celebratory dish) but I definitely will be trying out the yam shepherds pie. Looks yummy! Please keep the blog posts coming, loving each and every single one xx

  • comment-avatar
    Sylvia Ampofo October 27, 2014 (8:10 pm)

    The reason I love yams is they are so much tastier than potatoes.Yam balls are totally delicious… I can’t wait to try the yam shepherds pie. Thanks for these recipes, Patti!

    • comment-avatar
      Patti Sloley October 28, 2014 (10:48 pm)

      You’ve got to try the yam shepherds pie. I mash the yam with evaporated milk, which gives it a really creamy texture and is such a tasty topping. I’ve also got a ‘ham and yam chowder’ I’m sure you’ll enjoy. Will be sharing that recipe soon. Watch this space!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.