25 min


1 hr 5 min


Water Yam 3 lbs
Dry fish 1 whole
Cooked pork pieces 1/2 lb
Roma tomatoes 8
Habanero 1
Onion 1 large
Palm Oil 1/2 cup
Knorr bouillon chicken seasoning 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Thyme 1 tsp
Curry 1 tsp

As at the time of writing this post, I can count on one hand, the number of times I’ve had Ikokore in my life. I remember my mum making it only ONE time when I was younger. I consider this really strange, because this is something I really like, and when there’s food I really like, I will make it often. I think the biggest contributor to me not eating it often, is that the main ingredient, water yam is not easy to find in the United States. Especially since yam is yam to most people; yam is water yam, is ‘regular’ white yam, is cocoyam, is cassava, is sweet potatoes. In my time in the US, I haven’t been fortunate enough to live near an African Store, so, usually, I’ve needed to know what I’m looking for, or ask my wonderful mother to bring it along when she visits. 🙂

Water Yam is quite hairy (although it is sometimes stripped and cleaned by the seller) and is very slimy on the inside. The scientific name is dioscorea alata (we want the white variety for this dish) and is called isu ewura by the Yorubas, or ji amongst the Igbos. Water Yam is particularly popular amongst the Ijebu sub-group of the Yorubas for its use in Ikokore. Ikokore is very similar to Yam pottage.

When I was planning to prepare the Ikokore for this post, I had gone to our international grocery store Saraga to buy some water yam. I bought one large tuber. Then the day came when I was planning to make the Ikokore, and between laziness and life happening, I didn’t make the Ikokore. 1 week later, I got to it, brought out the water yam, and the whole thing had gone bad 🙁 What was I going to do? Long story short, I ended up finding water yam at a Chinese store in our small town in Indiana! They were really small, and the store keeper didn’t even know what they were called, lol! I’m just happy to know now that whenever I’m ready to eat Ikokore, I can pick up some water yam 10 minutes from the house! 🙂

Prep Steps! 🙁

  1. First, blend the bell pepper, habanero, all the tomatoes and onions and set aside.
  2. Note: Traditionally, I believe only bell peppers are used for the sauce, but bell peppers are expensive here, so I supplement.

  3. Peel the yams completely.
  4. Peeled Water Yams

    Peeled Water Yams

  5. Next, cut the yams up into small chunks, fist full size, or if the water yams are already small enough to fit into your hands like the ones I got, you’re all set.
  6. Next, we are going to grate the water yam. You want to use the smallest part on your grater, as we want a mush.
  7. Grating water yam

    Grating water yam

    Grated water yam

    Grated water yam

Let’s get cooking!

  1. Add in the 1/2 cup of palm oil.
  2. Palm Oil

    Palm Oil

  3. Add in the tomato and pepper blend from the prep steps.
  4. Pepper sauce

    Pepper sauce

  5. Add in the salt, thyme, curry, knorr, dry fish and the pork pieces. Cook for about 20 minutes. Stir every 3-5 minutes.
  6. Note: You can use any meat/fish combination you like, but I chose dry fish for the flavor it adds, and pork because the texture is very close to that of the Ikokore when finished.

    Meat, Fish and Spices added

    Meat, Fish and Spices added

  7. Next, add in the grated water yam in little chunks. You can use your hands or a spoon to add the little scoops.
  8. Adding the Water Yam

    Adding the Water Yam

    Grated Water Yam Chunks in Pepper Sauce

    Grated Water Yam Chunks in Pepper Sauce

  9. Allow to cook for about 45 minutes. Do not stir. You may occasionally swirl the pot around to prevent it from sticking, but by not stirring, you allow the lumps to form, sort of like making meatballs.
  10. Cooked Ikokore

    Cooked Ikokore

      This is a complete meal and can be eaten as is, or the Ijebus also eat this with cold eba. I definitely eat this by itself. 🙂

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  1. Hello, this is a lovely delicious dish but this method of preparation will not make the balls form nor cook well.

    • Hey Bekky, thanks for visiting the site! Hope you enjoyed browsing.

      How do you make your Ikokore? Perhaps we can learn from each other. I challenge you to try this method though and let me know what you think.

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