Irio (Mashed Sweet Potato with Peas and Corn) — A classic Kenyan dish that is a hearty combination of mashed sweet potatoes, peas, corn, and sometimes spinach. A simple yet filling and nutritious side dish that goes perfectly with stews, grilled meat, and fish.
You might assume this dish is named after an African Queen or has a symbolic significance, actually, the Irio meaning is much more straightforward, and the literal translation is food in the Kikuyu language- a classic Kenyan dish, which has its roots from the Kikuyu tribe and has spread throughout Kenya and other parts of East Africa
It is a hearty combination of mashed potatoes, peas, corn, and sometimes spinach, to create a dish with an appeal that is undeniably filling, and nutritious. As always, with many African meals, there are different variations, with potatoes and corn making up the base. Feel free to replace some of the vegetables with the ones you have on hand.
In this Mashed Sweet Potato recipe, to keep things simple and easy, I used frozen peas and corn and to build flavor into this humble dish, I sauté garlic, onions, added cayenne, smoked paprika, along with a bit of parsley to liven it up a touch. I first made this recipe with sweet potatoes only but have updated recipe to include both sweet and white potatoes. Or you can equally use half and half.
In Kenya, it is paired with nyama na, which is grilled meat. Here I paired it with this African-style Chicken Stew. Enjoy it!
Irio (Mashed Sweet Potato Recipe with Peas and Corn)
- 2-3 pound (900 g – 1.3 kls) sweet potatoes sub with regular potatoes(see notes)
- 2-3 Tablespoons (28.4 g – 42.6 g) butter or canola oil
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) minced garlic
- ¼ cup (40 g) diced onions
- ½ or more cup (87.5 g) blanched corn
- ½ or more cup (87.5 g) blanched peas
- ½ teaspoon (1.05 g) paprika
- 1 tablespoon (3.8 g) parsley
- ½ teaspoon (6.5 g) hot sauce chili or cayenne pepper optional
- Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Clean and dry the sweet potatoes, poke holes into the sweet potatoes, place in the microwave and cook for about 4 minutes.
- Wrap it up and place it the oven to roast for about 20 minutes or until they are cooked through.
- Add two tablespoons of oil or butter to a skillet, sweat onions, then add garlic, salt, paprika, and hot sauce, let it simmer for about a minute.
- Add the potatoes then mash with a potato masher or put it through a ricer. Stir in the corn, peas and parsley. Adjust for salt and pepper.
- Serve warm.
Tips & Notes:
- White potatoes contain more starch, so you might have to use a little more as compared to sweet potatoes.
- If you prefer a little texture to your Irio just like this recipe, you can stir in the peas and corn at the very end. But if not, you can mash the sweet potatoes and peas together for a finer consistency.
- When using dried green peas for this recipe, you need to soak it in water first and cook separately from the potatoes.
- If you have any leftovers for this recipe, you can refrigerate them and then form them into patties and pan-fry the next day.
- You may sub sweet potatoes with regular potatoes.
- Base ingredients for this recipe are potatoes, peas, and corn. You may add or omit ingredients on the list depending to suit your preference.
- Please keep in mind that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.