Cocoyam/Taro One-Pot

Nyoma/Mpotompoto

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    3 to 4

    servings

Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

I first thought “nyoma” and “mpotompoto” were two different dishes, and later began to suspect they were the same. Several Ghanaians confirmed this. Barbara once told me that when it is made with yams, the Ewes call it teba (“yam mud”) and that it is also known in Ewe as dablui, which means “cook it and mix it up.” She describes it as a kind of Ghanaian goulash. In Twi, poto means “to mash/grind.” (“mpotompoto”—note that lovely reduplication again). However, the root vegetable used is not necessarily mashed, just cooked in broth until the starch, whether cocoyam, African yam, white sweet potato, or cassava, disintegrates. This dish is also recommended as a weaning food for young children. It makes a light, comforting, one-pot meal.

There are many variations of this dish. This is a simple one using dried ground red pepper, cocoyam, palm oil, salt, tomatoes, and dried shrimp. If cocoyams/taro are not available at your local grocery store, try an Asian market.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup dried smoked shrimps
  • 3 cocoyams/taro, peeled and cut in ½-inch cubes (1 pound after peeling)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried ground red pepper (or to taste)
  • ¼ cup good quality palm oil

Substitutions

  • African yam or white sweet potato in place of the cocoyam
  • Shrimp-flavored seasoning cubes or dried herrings in place of the dried smoked shrimp
  • Another vegetable oil in place of the palm oil

Method

Directions

  1. Pound the dried shrimp, if whole, in a mortar and pestle (If desired, break off the head and end of the tail first).
  2. Put the diced cocoyam, whole onion, and whole tomatoes in a pot with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook until the cocoyam is soft, about 20 minutes.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes and onion. Discard the tomato peels if desired, and grind the tomatoes and onion in a blender, food processor, or asanka. Return them to the pot.
  4. Add the pounded shrimp, salt, ground red pepper, and red palm oil. Let the mixture simmer briefly to blend the flavors. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Variations

  • Perhaps the most common variation: Omit precooking the cocoyam and simply make the gravy, then add additional water and cook the cocoyam in it.
  • Boil the cocoyam separately. Make a gravy: using ½ cup palm or other vegetable oil, fry the onion a few minutes, then add sliced tomatoes (and other seasonings as desired, such as ginger, garlic, etc.). Mix everything together after the cocoyam is tender.