Yam and Vegetables with Ukpaka

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This Nigerian recipe, Yam and Vegetables with Ukpaka, is basically a leafy, vegetable and yam and vegetable mixture. What I like about it a lot is, you can use almost any of your favorite leafy vegetables, such as: spinach, collards, turnip greens, amaranth, etc.

What gives it that unique, traditional Nigerian food recipe flavor is in the seasonings, namely the Maggi or Knorr cubes, and the Ukpaka.

Yam and Vegetables with Ukpaka

(Photo Attributed to Author: Ayoife Oni)

Yam and Vegetables with Ukpaka Recipe-

  • 1 kg (2.2 lb) Yam
  • 1 kg (2.2 lb)) Leafy Vegetable, your choice: spinach, turnip greens, fluted pumpkin, amaranth, etc., and you can mix and match, also
  • Red Palm Oil (a must ingredient, no other oil has the same rich, distinctive flavor)
  • 4 Okra – fresh if you can get it, or fresh frozen, or canned okra
  • Handful of Ukpaka or Ugba
  • 2 Medium Sized Onions
  • Chilli Pepper Powder (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Nigerian Seasoning: – 2 Maggi cubes
Prep Cook Instructions:
  1. Peel and cut the yam tuber into 2 inch cubes. Wash the yam cubes and place in a good sized pot.
  2. Wash and cut the leafy vegetables you’ve chosen. If you are using frozen leaves (and that’s okay) allow them to defrost just enough to where you can chop them into small pieces. Once they are fully unthawed, wrap in a clean cloth and wring out any and all excess water.
  3. Take the ukpaka, rinse it, and chop the okra and onions and okra into tiny pieces. Place the ukpaka and chopped onions and okra in a separate pot, and add in the chili powder (to your tastes), and set the whole mixture to the side.

Note: 4 okra might seem like not very much for a large pot dish like this, but the okra is not a main ingredient – it is mostly included because of its ability to help the vegetables to stick together.

Cooking Directions:
  1. Pour enough water to cover the yam cubes; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a lively simmer, and cook until the cubes are tender, and the water will take on a porridge-like look and texture.
  2. Pour the yam-water out of the pot (save it in a bowl), leaving the yam cubes in the pot. You want to keep the cubes hot, so cover the pot with a tight fitting lid.
  3. Now add into the pot containing the vegetables, some of the yam-water (1 or 2 large soup spoons full). Simmer-cook until all the vegetables are well tenderized and soft, but not overcooked – you don’t want them to get mushy.
  4. Once the vegetables are well cooked, put them and other ingredients (the Maggi or Knorr cubes, ukpaka, onions and okra, prepped beforehand) into the pot containing the yam cubes. Also add in the palm oil, and salt to taste.
  5. Use a wooden spoon and stir vigorously until all the ingredients have mixed well, and simmer-cook for a while longer, stirring occasionally, to let all the ingredients’ flavors mix and blend together well. 20 to 30 minutes should be about right.
  6. And now … your Nigerian Yam and Vegetables with Ukpaka is ready to be served!

Serve this scrumptious dish with fried plantain or it is also excellent just by itself.