This incredibly flavorsome asaro dish is a Nigerian classic. It’s a one-pot dish that requires less than thirty-five minutes to prepare. It’s excellent served on its own or with other delicacies like my fiery peri peri chicken. Finish it off with a chilled glass of zobo for the utmost comfort.
What is yam porridge?
Yam porridge/Yam pottage, or Asaro as the Yoruba people of Nigeria call it, is a delicious savory dish. It is made with white yam tubers, simmered in a pepper mix, mostly seasoned with dehydrated prawns (crayfish), and finished with green leaves. It gets its beautiful hue, which the Yorubas often call “Asaro rede rede,” from unrefined palm oil.
Why you’ll love this recipe
This porridge is not just tasty; it is loaded with healthy ingredients and a great way to add more nutrients to your diet.
Like my Nigerian jollof rice, this one-pot dish is simple and easy to cook, making a great lunch or dinner for the whole family.
It’s great to make it ahead of time, and tastes even better the next day.
Here are some of the main ingredients to make this yam pottage a hit:
• White yam (Dioscorea rotundata): Nigerian yam or African yam tuber is the main ingredient in this yam porridge. It is native to African lands, Asia, and other tropical regions. Not to be confused with Sweet potato, which is called yam in America. Yam is a starchy tuber with rough, bump-like brown skin. The older the yam, the sweeter its flavor, and it resembles a sweet potato.
• Red bell pepper: Red bell peppers have a sweet flavor and add vibrant color to the porridge.
• Habanero: This chili pepper is known for its heat and spice. When using habanero, make sure you add it according to tolerance for heat and spice.
• Palm oil (Elaeis guineensis): use 100% pure, unrefined red palm oil that is rich with a thick consistency. I swear by this Omni brand found on Amazon or get one from your local African or Caribbean grocers.
• Crayfish: this is a staple in Nigerian cuisines. Crayfish are sun-dried prawns that can be used whole or ground into a powder-like texture. They add an instant umami flavor to any dish.
• Dry fish: also known as dry or smoked catfish head. It adds a rich flavor to this dish. Be sure to thoroughly clean the fish, removing any bones and gunk from the head before using.
• Green leaves: like amaranth greens (a.k.a Callaloo, pigweed, Quintonil, vlita, saag paneer ). Amaranth is a little tougher than spinach, so give it a few minutes to soften before removing the pot from heat.
** Search my chop chop website, amazon, or Etsy if you can't find these ingredients in your local African or Caribbean store.
This dish is enjoyed in many regions of Nigeria; hence, it’s made in different ways. Aside from the method mentioned below, I often make it by adding the yam to a stew base and letting it simmer on low heat until it is cooked through. You can use this stewed base for my Jollof rice or kale stew without using palm oil.
- Smoked Mackerel, stock fish, or cubed fried beef can be used instead of dry fish.
- Greens: other great options to use in place of amaranth greens are spinach, kale, and ugwu (fluted pumpkin leaves). Either fresh or frozen leaves can be used.
Here are easy steps on How to make the porridge Yam:
Step 1: Cut the yam in half and peel it from top to bottom.
Step 2: Cut the yam in half, lengthwise, and do the same for the other half.
Step 3: Cut the half into 3 pieces or quarters. Repeat the step for the rest of the yam.
Step 4: Rinse the yam under running water, place it into a large non-stick pot with enough water to cover the top, and season with salt.
Step 5: Add the peppers and onion to the bowl of a food processor, then give it a few pulses.
Step 6: Add the pepper mix, seasoning, and half of the crayfish into the pot, then cook.
Step 7: Clean the fish under running water and remove the bones and specks of dirt. Rinse and chop the leaves.
Step 8: Add the dry fish, palm oil, and the remaining crayfish into the pot. Stir, cover, and cook for a few minutes.
Step 9: Lift the yam and check for doneness. Mash one or two at this point to thicken the porridge.
Step 10: Add the leaves and stir to incorporate. Cover and cook for a few minutes. Remove from heat and serve.
Please see the recipe card for measurements and detailed instructions.
- When purchasing white yam, choose older yam, not new, or water yam, as it isn’t fully matured. Press down on the skin to ensure no soft spots, which signifies rotten/spoiled yam.
- Use fresh, unrefined palm oil for maximum taste and benefit, NOT palm kernel found in most American grocery aisles. Look for the expiration date to be sure you are getting a good batch.
- Depending on the consistency you like your porridge, add or remove water as needed before adding the pepper mix.
- Cooked yam can go from soft to mushy in a heartbeat. So keep an eye on the pot once the yam is fork-tender, or you’ll have no yam chunks left.
- Although I said to mash two yam cubes for thickness, mash more if you prefer a thicker consistency.
What to pair with yam porridge?
This African porridge is best when enjoyed on its own. But if you feel like having a feast, then you should pair it with local recipes like:
It takes about 15-18 minutes for yam to get fork tender when it’s cooked on medium-high heat, slightly covered.
Absolutely! Yams are packed with nutrients and offer many health benefits. They are not just rich in minerals but are also high in fiber. They are low in calories and offer several health benefits, like reducing inflammation, promoting brain health, controlling sugar levels in the blood, and weight loss.
White yam is native to African lands, Asia, and other tropical regions. Not to be confused with Sweet potato, which is called yam in America. White yam is starchier, whereas sweet potatoes have a creamy texture. Moreover, yams have rough brown skin, whereas the skin of a sweet potato is smooth to the touch.
Love African Dishes? Try these Related African Recipes.
This asaro recipe is one of our favorites, and I hope it also becomes yours! If you try this recipe, share a bite with us on our social media. If you make this recipe using the hashtag worldlytreat (#worldlytreat), we’d love to join the soirée. Also, don’t forget to pin it for later. Chat soon?
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Asaro (Nigerian Yam Porridge)
- 2 lbs White yam tuber
- 5 cups Water
- 2 large Red bell pepper
- 3 Roma Tomatoes
- 1 Habanero pepper plus more if you like it spicy
- 1 Medium red onion
- 1 cup Pure red palm oil unrefined
- ½ cup ground Crayfish ,divided
- 1 seasoning cube or a teaspoon of seasoning powder
- 3 medium whole Dry fish
- 5 oz Fresh or frozen Amaranth greens kale or spinach is fine
- Cut the yam in half and peel it from top to bottom. Then cut the yam in half, lengthwise, and do the same for the other half. Cut the half into 3 pieces or quarters. Repeat the step for the rest of the yam.
- Rinse the yam under running water, place it into a large non-stick pot with enough water to cover the top, and season with salt.
- Place the bell peppers, habanero, and onion in the bowl of a food processor, then Pulse until it’s roughly combined. Add the pepper mix, seasoning cube, and half of the crayfish into the pot with yam. Cover the pot loosely and cook on medium-high heat for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, separate the head of the fish from the body and clean it under running water, making sure to remove any bones and gunk. Pluck, wash, and roughly chop the amaranth leaves and set them aside.
- Add the dry fish, palm oil, and the remaining crayfish into the pot with the yam, then stir to combine. Adjust for taste. Cover and Cook for 5 minutes.
- Lift a piece of yam with a spoon. Check to see if the yam is soft to the touch. Use a fork or masher to mash one or two, then place them back into the pot. This helps thicken the porridge.
- Add the leaves and stir to combine. Adjust taste. Cover and cook for 2 minutes or until the leave softens (It will take less time for spinach). Remove from heat. Serve immediately
- If using frozen leaves, thaw them before adding them to the porridge.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container, and place them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freezing is possible but not advisable as the texture of the yam might change.
- Depending on the consistency you like your porridge, add or remove water as needed before adding the pepper mix. If the porridge is too runny, mash a piece of yam to maintain a thicker consistency.
- Cooked yam can go from soft to mushy fast. So keep an eye on the pot once the yam is fork-tender, or you’ll have no yam chunks left.