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Candied yams and plantains

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

African cuisine is dependent on plantains and yams (and other root tubers) for nutrition because they are also easy to grow in some of the harsher climates of the continent.

This recipe is so different from the usual candied roots because of the addition of spices and ginger. They accent the flavours of the candied vegetables. The syrup is sweet, but not cloying, and the spices shine in this recipe. This sweet dish is perfect as a side for any meal, it adds a change of flavour to the palate. This is also a perfect dish on the Thanksgiving or Christmas table.

Marcus Samuelsson's cookbook is the original bible of African cuisine that has won practically every cookbook award that there is. Packed with recipes from across the continent, this cookbook is filled with wonderful authentic recipes. To me, this book is not just a collection of outstanding recipes, but a chef's love of his culture and origins. For those who are not familiar with the chef, he was adopted by Swedish parents from Ethiopia. He followed a culinary career and focussed on the cuisine of his origins.

For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.


2 lb yams, peeled and cut into small batons or 1-inch cubes

3 plantains, peeled and cut into diagonal slices

3 tablespoons niter kibbeh, or butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 cup orange juice

1/4 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste

Salt, as needed. The soy sauce has a lot of salt

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing, you may need to warm up the sauce for the niter kibbeh/butter to melt. Toss the yams and bananas in the dressing and layer on an oiled baking sheet lined with foil.

Bake for 20 minutes, turning and basting the vegetables every 5 minutes. The yams should take about 40-45 minutes to roast, while the plantains should take about 25-30 minutes depending on the size of the pieces and the variety of vegetables you are using. Remove the pieces and set them aside as they get ready.

For the leftover dressing, bring it to a simmer in a large pot. Simmer gently till it gets quite thick and dark. Toss the roasted vegetables in the pan and coat them with the syrup.

This dish is best served immediately, while the outside is crispy and the inside is soft, but just as delicious if served later.

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