Do you eat yam?
If yes, what is your favourite yam recipe?
Have you tried roasted yam and palm oil sauce?
If yes, do you like the meal?
Is roasted yam a meal you are always excited to feast on whenever the opportunity presents itself?
Growing up, roasted yam with red palm oil sauce was one of my family's regular meals especially when we visit my grandfather for holidays or festivals. At the time, my grandfather would hire some local farmers to cultivate on our plots of lands. Yam was on top of the list of food crops that usually found their ways on our farmlands. Then, my grandfather had a big yam barn with tons of yams piled up every year. So my family and cousins always looked forward to visiting my grandfather as that was a perfect opportunity for us to enjoy assorted organic foods to their fullest. Of course, roasted yam for me was on top of the list. Roasted yam and red palm oil sauce is one of the common yam recipes eaten by Nigerians, especially the Igbo people.
Let me quickly clarify this now because a couple of my Western friends often mistaken yam for potato. Simply put, yams are not potatoes! While conducting my research as to the reason why some people especially the Westerners consider potatoes as yams, I came to find out that this was traced back to centuries in North America. Then, the African slaves referred to the American sweet potatoes as "nyami" simply because of the semblance that potatoes had with their African yam. As a result, nyami, which they also referred to as nyana came to be yam in English, ñame in Spanish and igname in French.

Meanwhile, watch this video recipe of roasted yam and palm oil sauce!


 Yam, which is of the genus Dioscorea and from the family of Dioscoreaceae is not related to sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas). Yams are distinguished by their brown peels that have a similar appearance to the bark of a tree. The yam peels are inedible while the inner white flesh is the edible part. Depending on the yam species, yam flesh can be white, purple, pale yellow or reddish in colour. Planting yam requires planting whole yam tubers or yam portions in ridges or mounds at the onset of the rainy season. The size of yam yield at the end of the season largely depends on the yam species, the nature of soil where the yams are planted, the sizes of the ridges or mounds, the spacing between the yams and the availability of stakes to support the yam. Yam is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows vines. It is grown mainly for the consumption of its starchy tubers, especially in the temperate and tropical parts of the world such as Africa, the Caribbean.
Yam is an invaluable staple crop in Nigeria especially in Igboland (eastern part). The importance of yam in an Igbo (Ibo) culture cannot be overemphasized. The Igbos highly revere a special festival known as the "Iri-ji festival" simply to commemorate "eating yam" especially the new yams. In Igboland, iri ji ohuu, which translates as "eating new yam" is celebrated at the end of August or early September simply to celebrate the yam crop. The new yam festival also marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of their New Year’s Day. During the new yam festival (iri ji ohu), new yams are used to cook assorted types of yam dishes (such as pounded yam and ofe nsala, yam and vegetables,  yam porridge or yam pottage, yam fufu etc) but the top of the lists of yam dishes that must be prepared on the day is the "roasted yam".
Now that I have left home, I rarely eat my local foods as often as I would love to. But each time I have the privilege to do so, I am always excited and would enjoy it to the fullest. My last visit to an African shop closer to me, I luckily ran into some nicely-looking yams and I knew immediately that I needed to seize the opportunity to make and share this recipe with my lovely fans. Although the yams were pricey but when one has no alternative, you rather stick with what you have at hand. After all, an adage states thus "a bird at hand is better than one million birds in the forest". Apart from the new yam festival, roasted yam is also a common street food in most parts of Nigeria. Roasted yam is best served with palm oil (produced from palm kernel), salt and pepper or with a palm oil sauce. Both new yams and old yams can be roasted, however, new yams cook faster than their old counterparts. This suggests why it is preferred for roasting. Although the roasted yam recipe shared in this post was made with an old yam, the recipe is applicable to both old and new yam delicacies. Feel free to give the recipe a shot whether you are celebrating the new yam festival or not. The aroma from the palm oil sauce complements the roasted yam so well that they both make a perfect pair for each other. Also, I encourage you to treat the back of your pot first before cooking the sauce on a charcoal fire. This will make it easier for you to wash the pot, as well as prevent the pot from staining as a result of the charcoal flame.

Watch the video below to learn how to treat your pot before cooking on a charcoal fire!


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