Yam Eto (Mashed Ghanaian Yams)

Happy new year! I thought I’d start of the new year with a recipe for one of my favourite Ghanaian foods, yam eto (short for etor and also referred to as otor/oto). Eto is a traditional Ghanaian dish which consists of mashed yams or sweet plantains. The dish originates from the Ga people of Ghana. It is considered a sacred food and is often served on special occasions such as naming ceremonies (also called outdooring), twins-festival, weddings, and birthdays. So, basically this dish is perfect for special occasions, like celebrating the start of a new year.

The yam version of eto is usually made with Ghanaian yams, which are commonly referred to white yams. If you’re in Canada, you can get white yams from some of the No Frills stores. You can also get them from African grocery stores. If you can’t find white yams, you can substitute them with baking potatoes or Jamaican yellow yams. You can also try the plantain version of the dish; just substitute the yams with two medium/large plantains that are just ripened (yellow) and still firm.

How to Make Yam Eto

Eto is traditionally made using a Ghanaian mortar and pestle called apotoyewa and eta; apotoyewa (or asanka) is the mortar and eta (or tapoli) is the pestle. See below for a picture of what they look like. You can order them on Etsy. If you don’t have these tools, don’t worry, you can make the dish using a potato masher and a food processor.

Eto is usually made with palm oil which gives the yams the reddish yellow colour. However, I’m not really a fan of palm oil so I usually use canola or olive oil. I add turmeric and paprika to the oil to get a similar colour to palm oil. Off course, you can use palm oil, if you’d like and you can add the turmeric and paprika to the palm oil for flavour and to intensify the colour. Homemade roasted peanuts are typically used in eto, but I’m lazy so I usually use store bought dry roasted peanuts.

Ingredients for the Yam Eto

To make this yam eto, you’ll need the following ingredients: 500 g of white yams, ¼ cup of dry roasted peanuts (plus more for garnishing), 1 medium scotch bonnet pepper, ½ medium onion (chopped), 2 cloves of garlic (minced), ¼ cup of palm, canola, or olive oil, 1 teaspoon of paprika, ½ teaspoon of turmeric, 1½ teaspoon of salt (divided), 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 2 stalks of green onions (chopped; plus more for garnishing), ½ teaspoon of dried thyme, 2 hard boiled eggs, and 1 avocado (pitted and chopped).

Instructions for the Yam Eto

Peel and chop the yams into smaller pieces. Wash the yams and place them in a medium pot. Pour water into the pot until it covers the yams. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and the scotch bonnet pepper (leave whole) to the yams. Place the pot on the stove, cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Once the water starts to boil, remove the scotch bonnet pepper from the pot and set aside.

Let the yams boil until they’re cooked, about 7-8 minutes. To test that the yams are done, take one out of the pot and poke it with a fork. The fork should easily pierce through the yam and it should break apart. Be careful to not over cook the yams as they will turn mushy. Remove the pot from the stove, strain the  water from the yams and let the yams cool down until they’re safe to handle.

While the yams are cooking, put the chopped onions in the apotoyewa and use the eta to mash the onions into a puree. Add the Scotch bonnet pepper and the peanuts to the onions and use the eta to mash them into a smooth paste. You can use a food processor to puree the onions, pepper and peanuts if you don’t have an apotoyewaa and eta.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan on low-medium heat. Saute the garlic in the oil. Add the turmeric, paprika, thyme, salt, and black pepper to the oil and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds); use a spoon to mix and stir the spices as they cook in the oil. Add the green onions to the oil and cook for another 30 seconds or until they’re slightly softened; stir the contents with the spoon as they cook. Remove the pot from the stove and let the contents cool until safe to handle.

Add the yams to the peanut mixture and use the eta to mash the yams; you can mash the yams as smoothly as you want. Pour the spiced oil all over the yam mixture. Using the eta and a spoon, mix and mash the oil with the yams into a smooth, reddish yellow mash.

If you don’t have an apotoyewaa and eta, use a potato masher to mash the yams while they’re in the pot they were cooked in. Then add the peanut mixture and the spiced oil to the yams and mash everything together.

How to Serve Yam Eto

To serve the yam eto, garnish with some roasted peanuts and green onions. Eto is also typically served with avocados and hard boiled eggs. You can also serve it with a bit of shito (Ghanaian black pepper sauce).  To eat, scoop some of the eto onto a plate, making sure to get some of the peanut and green onion garnish and the other sides. Use a fork to smash and spread the hard boiled eggs into the yam mixture and try to get a bit of everything when you’re scooping it up to eat. Enjoy! Let me know how it goes.

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Yam Eto (Ghanaian Mashed Yams)

Yam eto is a classic Ghanaian dish made of mashed yams and roasted peanuts. Eto is made with simple ingredients but has a great depth of flavour.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: African
Keyword: eto, Ghanaian food, mashed yams, oto, yams
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 453kcal
Author: Mavis K.

Ingredients

  • 500 g white yams
  • ¼ cup dry roasted peanuts (plus more for garnishing)
  • 1 medium scotch bonnet pepper
  • ½ medium onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • ¼ cup palm, canola, or olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • tsp salt (divided)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 stalks green onions (chopped; plus more for garnishing)
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 avocado (pitted and chopped)

Instructions

  • Peel and chop the yams into smaller pieces. Wash the yams and place them in a medium pot. Add water to the pot until it covers the yams as well as the Scotch bonnet pepper (leave whole) and 1 teaspoon of the salt to the yams.
  • Cover the pot and place it on the stove. Bring the water to a boil. Remove the scotch bonnet pepper from the pot and set aside once the water starts to boil.
  • Let the yams boil until they're cooked, about 7-8 minutes. To test that the yams are done, take one out of the pot and poke it with a fork. The fork should easily pierce through the yam and break it apart. Be careful to not over cook the yams as they will turn mushy.
  • Remove the pot from the stove, strain the water from the yams and let the yams cool down until they're safe to handle.
  • While the yams are cooking, put the chopped onions in the apotoyewa (asanka) and use the eta to mash the onions into a puree. Add the peanuts and scotch bonnet pepper to the onions and use the eta to mash them into a smooth paste.
  • Heat the oil in a small saucepan on low-medium heat. Sauté the garlic in the oil. Add the turmeric, paprika, thyme, salt, and black pepper to the oil and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir the spices with a spoon as they cook in the oil.
  • Add the green onions to the oil and cook for another 30 seconds or until they're slightly softened; stir the contents as they cook.
  • Remove the pot from the stove and let the contents cool down until safe to handle.
  • Add the yams to the peanut mixture and use the eta to mash the yams; you can mash the yams as smoothly as you want.
  • Pour the spiced oil all over the yam mixture. Mix and mash the oil with the yams into a smooth, reddish yellow mash using the eta and a spoon.
  • Garnish the eto with some roasted peanuts and green onions. Eto is also typically served with avocados and hard boiled eggs. You can also serve it with a bit of shito (Ghanaian black pepper sauce).

Notes

If you don’t have an apotoyewa and eta, you can do the following:
  • Use a food processor to puree the onions, scotch bonnet pepper, and peanuts.
  • Use a potato masher to mash the yams while they're in the pot they were cooked in. Add the peanut mixture and the spiced oil to the yams and mash everything together.

Nutrition

Calories: 453kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 112mg | Potassium: 1427mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 714IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2mg

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