Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Recipe: "Mashed Yams with Halva"

A while back, I made African Candied Yams, and got to talking with some friends who don't eat dairy. This version uses margarine and halva instead of butter and half-and-half. It has a different flavor, nutty rather than fruity, but still uses the same spice blend.

"Mashed Yams with Halva"

2 yams, peeled and cut into chunks
pinch of sea salt
4 tablespoons margarine
1/4 cup brown sugar
1.75 ounce bar of halva
1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout spice blend


Fill a large pot 2/3 full of water, add a pinch of sea salt, and set to boil.

Wash and peel the yams. Cut them into bite-sized chunks.

When the water boils, add the yam chunks. Boil until 20-30 minutes, until the yams are completely tender.

Scoop out the yam chunks with a slotted spoon and transfer them to another container. You can mash them with a mixer in a mixing bowl, or with a potato masher in a wide dish. To the yam chunks add 4 tablespoons margarine sliced into squares, 1/4 cup brown sugar, a 1.75 ounce bar of halva broken into bits, and 1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout spice blend

Serve hot. Makes 4-5 servings as a side dish.


Yams or sweet potatoes are a traditional food serving as a staple in many African cultures. They take a considerable amount of time to clean, chop, and cook so plan ahead.

Sea salt is a type of fancy salt. You can substitute plain table salt if that's all you have.

The margarine makes this a dairy-free recipe. If you prefer butter, you can substitute that.

Halva is a nutty, slightly sweet candy made from sesame seeds. Its flavor and texture take the place of dairy products usually used to "cream" yams.

Ras el Hanout is a sweet-hot Moroccan spice blend that may contain up to 30 different ingredients. Mine is simpler and leans toward the sweet end. If you want to make this recipe hotter, then add paprika, cayenne, or crushed red pepper flakes. It's easier to make sweet things hotter than vice versa. This is the heart of the recipe; if you substitute some other spice blend, you will get very different results.

This recipe produces a dish with nutty, spicy, and sweet notes. It is less hot than some African recipes and much less sweet than Southern candied yams. It makes an ideal accompaniment for savory recipes such as smoked turkey or ham. It should expand easily if you need to make more.
Tags: food, recipe

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