Sweet Potatoes

Let’s talk about sweet potatoes! Ipomoea batatas if you are in the mood for Latin!  Many varieties of sweet potato are cultivated.  The young leaves can be eaten and are relished by animals, but the underground tubers are the main source of food for man.  The tubers may be white, red, yellow or orange.  Sweet potato tubers are a valuable source of nutrients, providing in addition to carbohydrates, about 5 percent plant protein and substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals.  When compared with the humble white potato and other West African carbohydrate sources, the sweet potato is more nourishing.

As is true with most roots and tubers, many of the non-carbohydrates nutrients are more concentrated in the peel then in the pulp.  Cooking in the skin is therefore recommended.  The skin can then be removed before serving, if desired.

Sweet potatoes do not keep well, so buy in small quantities.  Check that they are firm and have no mould.

To make boiled sweet potatoes, boil them in their skin for about 25 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.  If pared before cooking, the cooking time is shortened.  Season with salt and pepper before serving whole or mashed.

To bake sweet potatoes, wash the sweet potatoes well, then bake at 200 degrees in the oven, or on a barbecue charcoal grill.  They are cooked when easily pierced with a fork.  Serve in the jacket.  Roasted sweet potatoes are excellent with pork dishes and with roasted meats and fish.

The following recipe is for sweet potato pottage:


6 Sweet potatoes

1 Firm ripe plantain

100ml Palm oil

1 Onion

2 Bell peppers

3 Tomatoes

2 scotch bonnet

1 teaspoon salt

40g African Plate Crayfish (ground)

50g African Plate Dried Periwinkle (soaked for 30 minutes)

200g Spinach


  1. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into large chunks.
  2. Cover with water, adding salt and palm oil and bring to the boil.
  3. Blend the remaining ingredients (excluding the periwinkle and spinach).
  4. Add the blended mixture and the periwinkles to the sweet potatoes and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the spinach and allow to wilt.
  6. Stir with a wooden spoon so that some of the sweet potato disintegrates into the soup.
  7. Cool partially before serving to allow the flavours to mix.
  8. Serve with roasted or fried fish.

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