For a food item that’s so versatile, yam surprisingly gets a lot of flak. I often see it pitted against plantain, who is great in her own right but is far less superior to yam. But that’s a conversation for another day.
There are so many possibilities with yam I tend to distrust people who don’t like it, in at least one form. As I made this list I came to the realisation that I quite love yam, which made this ranking the hardest I’ve ever had to do.
I considered leaving Ikokore of this list completely because I don’t want that smoke. But if no one else will say it, let me be the first to say that Ikokore is a very disappointing meal.
Full disclosure, I’ve consumed Ikokore a total of 2 times in my life. It’s possible that both times it was just made by a really bad cook. But if we are being honest Ikokore has nothing going on for it. It doesn’t look good. It has a very odd texture. And tastes like you were trying to make regular pottage but accidentally dumped too much water in, and left it to cook for way too long.
This might be a controversial opinion to yam lovers but I find Yamarita to be a very unnecessary meal. It just feels like it’s doing too much. It’s dipped in flour, eggs all that jazz. Then fried, but I’m still supposed to eat it with a sauce if not it won’t bang. It just seems like a lot of work for a frankly mediocre dish. It’s like fried yam, but somehow worse. And yes this includes TFC’s yamarita.
As much as I love yam I find fried yam a little hard to eat. When I’m forced to eat fried yam so many questions run through my head. Why is it so hard? Will it choke me? If I don’t drink water as I eat it, could I die? I could probably die.
I have no strong feelings towards roasted yam, it seems like something I’d enjoy over lunch with Pete Edochie and Kanayo O Kanayo as we discuss the next set of recruitments for our cult. I will say though, that roasted yam with palm oil that you add a pinch of salt to is kind of fire.
Amala is made out of yam flour so I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to count it as a yam dish. It’s also one of my top three swallows. The only flaw Amala suffers from is that it’s made to only be consumed with Ewedu, Stew and Gbegiri. It just doesn’t work with anything else.
If this were a pottage ranking, yam pottage might rank last. Just because sweet potato pottage and plantain pottage exist. But this isn’t a pottage ranking and I like yam pottage well enough to rank it fourth on this list. Yam pottage is at its best when you add on as many accompaniments as you can lay your hands on. Bell peppers, ponmo, shaki, periwinkle, the more the merrier. Spoil that pottage with love.
Boiled Yam is like white rice, plain, boring and almost inedible by itself. But once you combine it with anything at all from eggs to stew to palm oil it becomes absolutely fire. Quick life hack, if you add a pinch of sugar to the pot when you are boiling your yam, it’ll change your life.
If I’m being completely honest the only reason Pounded Yam doesn’t rank first on this list is because I’m Urhobo and my loyalties lie with Ukodo whose greatness I’ll get to in a bit. But pounded yam is the greatest swallow no contest and the second-best yam dish to ever be made.
Ukodo (Yam Peppersoup)
Yam pepper soup is at the top of this list because, after Banga, it’s the greatest Nigerian dish to ever exist. I’m not sure what it’s called in other regions in Nigeria but for South-South people, it’s Ukodo. Here’s what makes Ukodo so magical. The yam is cooked in the pepper soup so it gets to soak up all of those divine pepper soup spices. Obviously, if you don’t like pepper soup you wouldn’t like Ukodo. But who doesn’t like pepper soup?