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Yabeh is a West African dish I grew up eating made with cassava, sweet potatoes or yams in a spicy tomato broth. I was recently gifted some cassava/yuca and I honestly never cook with it. But I remembered my mom used to make a recipe with it when we lived in Sierra Leone. So here’s a modern take on the recipe I grew up eating!
Ingredients to make the recipe
- Cassava: Also known as yuca. A starchy root vegetable with a slight nutty flavor.
- Sweet potato: Sweet potatoes balance the taste of the cassava with their sweetness, but you can use regular potatoes instead.
- Onion, ginger & spices: For a base layer of flavor; the ginger can be left out but the spices are crucial.
- Tomato paste: For a rich and deep tomato flavor that makes the sauce.
- Peanut butter: Peanut butter adds a nice creaminess and nutty flavor throughout the stew.
- Spinach: This is optional, but I like to stir in some spinach at the end for color and a bit more goodness. You can stir in any other greens like kale, swiss chard or collard greens.
How to make yabeh
- Start by peeling the cassava/yuca and sweet potato and cutting into large cubes. Then boil them in a pot of salted water while prepping the rest of the recipe. You can boil them together, but note that the cassava will need more time to cook than the sweet potatoes, so you can stagger them.
- In another pot, cook the onions in the oil and add the ginger, spices and tomato paste.
- Stir until well blended and fragrant.
- Add the water and peanut butter and bring to a boil.
- Add in the cooked and drained cassava and sweet potatoes.
- Stir to combine and you’ll notice them start to soften and break down in the broth.
- Stir in the spinach and simmer until the sauce reduces and is thickened.
Tips for making the recipe
- Use fresh peppers instead of dried. You’ll notice there aren’t a lot of spices in the recipe, and that’s because the peppers bring in most of the flavor. To make it easier, I opt for crushed red pepper and cayenne pepper. But if you have fresh, it makes it more authentic.
- Cook the cassava slightly longer than the sweet potatoes. It helps to cook them together in one pot to make it easier. However, the cassava will need slightly more cooking time.
- Add beef, chicken or fish to the yabeh. I love this vegan version that’s so quick to make. But if you want to add any meat, you can poach them with the tomato sauce or you can cook them separately.
Frequently asked questions
The cassava flesh is starchy and slightly grainy, a similar texture to potatoes. It has a very mild taste which is slightly sweet and nutty.
Depending on where you live, yuca can be bought in the produce section of your local store, but if you can’t find it there, you will definitely find it in Latin and Caribbean markets. I’ve also seen it sold in Asian grocery stores.
This vegan African stew is a great recipe for meal prep and freezer meals. Let the stew cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. It will keep for 4 to 5 days in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer. Thaw frozen stew in the fridge overnight and reheat it gently on the stovetop to warm through.
More West African recipes:
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Yabeh recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
- 1 large yuca/cassava peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
- 1 large sweet potatoe peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 thumb ginger minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 ounces tomato paste
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 4 ounces baby spinach optional
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the cassava and cook 10 minutes. Then add the sweet potatoes and cook with the cassava until fork tender, about 15 more minutes.
- While the cassava and sweet potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil and cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper and tomato paste, and stir until well blended and fragrant, about 5 more minutes. Add the water and peanut butter and bring to a boil.
- Transfer the boiled and drained cassava and sweet potatoes over the tomato sauce, add the spinach and stir to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce reduces.