Yamarita, yamarita, yamarita. I remember the first time I saw this written on the menu board in Tasty Fried Chicken popularly called TFC, I wondered what it was but I ordered my regular fried rice and chicken, because I am not adventurous with food sold commercially. I stick to what I know I will like so i don’t get pissed about wasting money. Lol. On another visit to TFC, the customer in front of me ordered Yamarita fries and I decided to stand back and watch what would be served. I was quite impressed to see yam packaged better than the fried yam (dun dun) phenomenon that most of us grew up with. I don’t particularly like yam, you must have read on my Yam and plantain porridge post HERE. One of the maids I grew up with used to boil it with sugar, and it became tolerable, which explains why I cook yam porridge with plantain - the sweetness.
Yamarita is basically fried yam, but fried yam 2.0. Just as with fish, prawns or any kind of seafood, you roll the yam in flour, dip it in egg and fry. As simple as that, and very sophisticated too. I know I probably sound like a broken record on the issue of packaging and presentation which will be the messiah of Nigerian food to a global audience, but Yamarita fries embodies what I mean perfectly. If you plate this simple dish, all fancy fancy, it can be served at a posh restaurant anywhere in the world. Which is what ticks me off with restaurants in high brow areas of Nigeria. The chefs are not creative or imaginative enough with Nigerian food. I don’t blame them too, you give your clientele what they want. When I think of chefs like Heston Blumenthal who pushes the boundaries with food, I will still maintain that if you create, your clientele will still respond.
So, today I am making fried yam extra special. It is not even that much work. You can serve this at home, or for guests, either as a starter or our popular after the main meal “small chop”. I am pairing it with an intensely delicious tomato sauce, just as TFC serves it. One thing missing is the Charcoal lit chicken though. My mouth is watering just remembering that chicken.
You will need
12 – 15 rectangular slices of yam – or more depending on how many people
3 – 4 tbs of flour
1/2 tbs of cayenne pepper – dry pepper
1 tsp curry powder
Seasoning cubes – knorr chicken cubes preferred
1 red chilli – you substitute with ata rodo (scotch bonnet/habanero pepper)
1/2 red onion
1 clove of garlic
1. Cut the tuber of yam into circles, peel off the skin and cut rectangular slices about an inch thick and rinse with tap water. Create as many slices as you want. I will calculate about 4 – 5 slices per person.
2. Boil the slices with enough water and salt. You will need roughly 7 – 10 minutes, but you have to monitor this closely because you don’t want to over cook the yam which will cause it to break apart when you fry in oil. So, by the 7 minute mark, test with a fork. If it gives way easily, then take it out off the heat. If you can still feel a little resistance, let it boil for another 2 – 3 minutes. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: as soon as the yams are soft, drain out the water. If you leave the yams in hot water, it will continue cooking.
3. While the yams are boiling, prepare the flour. i.e pour the flour unto a plate, sprinkle in the cayenne pepper, curry powder, salt, half a seasoning cube and combine thoroughly. Break an egg in a bowl and sprinkle in cayenne pepper, the other half of the seasoning cube and a little salt. Also heat up oil in a deep saucepan. You need the oil to get very hot. The volume of oil that you use will depend on the size of the pan. You are going to deep fry the yam slices, so you need enough oil.
4. Take the boiled yam slices out from the pot, one by one and roll in flour
dip the flour coated slices in the egg mixture one at a time
drop in the hot oil. If the oil is hot enough, each side should turn crisp and golden in under a minute, flip over to let the other side fry, then sieve out of the oil with a frying spoon.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: yamarita is as pleasing to the eye as it is tasty, you want it to be golden brown and not burnt. So, don’t let it sit in the oil for too long. This method can be used to fry fish or chicken. Hey, KFC’s famous chicken is fried like this. British fish and chips is also fried like this, though some recommend batter. I intend to try this out at home soon, and I will put it up, once I do.
5. Fry the rest of the slices.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: depending on how many slices you have to fry, you may have to turn down the heat a little bit, because the oil can get too hot and the yam will burn in a matter of seconds. You don’t want that
…………………….and that’s it. Delicious, crunchy Yamarita fries. Doesn’t it look gorgeous
Now, to the Ata dindin - yamarita is not complete without this
1. Chop the onion, tomatoes, chilli and garlic and set aside
2. Heat up 2 cooking spoons of olive oil, add the curry powder and thyme. let this fry for a minute. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: frying spices in oil, intensifies the flavour.
3. Add the chopped ingredients from Step 1
sweat out the contents of the pan and keep frying
4. Keep frying until the tomatoes break down. At no point should you add water . Add 1 – 2 bay leaves, 1 cube of seasoning cube, a sprinkling of salt and stir
keep frying until the sauce reduces and the colour turns dark and the sauce is thick with golden coloured oil showing at the sides of the pan. Taste for salt and seasoning.
…………………………………………………………………..and you are done. Your delicious ata dindin
…………………………………..and there you have it. Yamarita and ata dindin
If you want to serve yamarita with other dipping sauces, your options are plain mayonnaise, but I will recommend Aioli which is garlic mayonnaise. My recipe for homemade mayonnaise can be found HERE
Teaser pic for the next post. Yamarita vs Calamari.