Mashed African Yam with Palm Oil and Egg


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    2 to 4


Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

I am especially pleased to present this recipe for yam ɔtɔ. Three decades ago, I was thrilled to discover my first postcard of food in Ghana—a postcard celebrating ɔtɔ with a photo of this traditional Ghanaian dish. The back simply said in English (and also in French): “African Gourmet,” and gave very simple directions on preparing it. Many years later I received a card from Barbara, and discovered she was the source, and that same photo was part of her personal stationery. Here is Flair Catering’s version of yam ɔtɔ.

The first day we made this at Flair, Barbara mentioned she had recently had ɔtɔ at a celebration in Accra for the 70th birthday of a Fante friend. To thank God they first went to a church service in the morning, then began their breakfast at 8:30 a.m. with ɔtɔ, topped with a hardboiled egg for each person. The ɔtɔ was followed by an extensive banquet of Ghanaian and Western dishes that continued on until lunch.


  • 1 piece African yam (about 1 pound), peeled (do not substitute American yams)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ½ cup good quality palm oil (preferably dzomi)
  • An onion slice or piece of ginger or bay leaf for flavoring the oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (about ¾ cup)
  • 2 to 4 hardboiled eggs, peeled (1 per person)



  1. Slice the yam in half lengthwise, then slice it into slices about ½ inch thick. Put the slices in a medium pot and cover them with water. Add the salt, cover the pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook for about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the yam slices.
  2. Heat the palm oil in a pan. Add a slice of onion, ginger, or a bay leaf first and fry briefly to season the oil, then remove it. Add the chopped onion to the oil and fry briefly. Remove from heat.
  3. Drain the yams and put in an asanka or other bowl and mash with a wooden masher or potato masher, then mix it with a wooden spoon. (Do not mash the yam as thoroughly as you would potatoes. One does not want a paste or a smooth “whipped” mass, but a denser, more textured one.)
  4. Continue to mix the yams as you add the onion mixture with the oil into the bowl. Switching to a fork may make it easier to blend without smashing it.
  5. Garnish with a whole hardboiled egg for each person. (See sidebar.)