Recipe: Mashed Potatoes with Veggies | Irio


I’m a little like mashed potatoes; I’m stable and sure, but I avoid wearing colorful makeup. The last time I wore blue eye liner was the nineties, and it was already a decade too late. I’m destined to recede behind more vibrant individuals – individuals of style.

But imagine what good things could come from a splash of color?

The jury is out with me, but consider the mashed potato. Must she remain the unadorned, pale wallflower in a buffet of color?

Tanzania teaches that this doesn’t have to be so…

Enter the rainbow known as Irio, a Kikuyu dish found in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Irio simply means “mashed” – a concoction of whatever tubers and vegetables the cook wants to pull together for an easy dinner. Most often, Irio is a combination of white potato, peas, and corn, but green beans, carrots, shredded spinach, or other veggies can also play star roles.

Depending on how Irio is mixed, the mash might be sunset orange, or new leaf green.  For me, it was all about sunset orange, and so I added a sweet potato – the uber-healthy tuber beloved throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

I got the idea to add a sweet potato to my Irio from Marcus Samuelsson’s book “Discovery Of A Continent – Foods, Flavors, And Inspirations From Africa,” a brilliant, beautiful cookbook my friend Alexandra recently gave me. He even goes so far as to kick up the heat a level by adding a sprinkling of bebere spice, a blend we made way back when we cooked Eritrea.

No wallflowers here; if you’re looking for a little Tanzanian-style spice in  your life, Irio is definitely the way to go.

A panorama of the Mikumi National Park in Tanzania. Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.

A panorama of the Mikumi National Park in Tanzania. Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.

Serves 4+


3 medium-large russet potatoes
1 sweet potato
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
4 Tbsp butter, or to taste
salt & pepper
homemade berbere, to taste (optional)


Get ready for sunshine in a bowl!

Set the peas and corn out to thaw while you work.

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Add to a large pot and cover with cold water. Season generously with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Cooking times will depend on the size and shape of your potatoes, so just check every once in a while.

Drain and dump on the peas, corn, butter, salt and pepper.

Add the berbere, if your feeling bold, too.


Next, find a sweet child to mash, mash, mash those potatoes.

Continue until you reach the desired consistency (chunky or smooth, it’s up to you). I love Irio chunky.

Unless you pulverize the mixture, the corn should remain whole, while the peas will break up somewhat.

So pretty… but enjoy with your eyes shut, while dreaming of East Africa.

What are the odds you’d make a dish like this? Do you have any tips or tricks to “spice up” plain-Jane mashed potatoes? I’m always looking for great ideas to make our weeknight dinners more varied and fun.

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  1. This looks delicious! It reminds me of another Kikuyu dish called Mukimo that is popular here in Kenya. I love mukimo because to me it tastes like mixing mashed potatoes and corn on Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite things to do. :) The fact that it sneaks in some greens as well (peas and usually some sort of pumpkin leaf or spinach) doesn’t hurt. If you liked Irio, you probably would like mukimo too (although I realize you’ve already “traveled” through Kenya on this adventure!)


    • Sasha Martin says:

      How neat! It’s definitely in the same family of recipes… will have to find some pumpkin leaves to try your recipe sometime :)

  2. You are safe with me… I rarely wear makeup and in fact decided to change my avatar photo because I had this red lipstick and decided to give it a try. Rare occasion, I probably will never wear it again for years :-)

    but a mashed potato decorated with all these colors, that’s another story, I am all up for it!

    Actually just a couple of days ago I made a cauliflower puree and added sauteed zucchini and carrots on top, turned out delicious and reminded me of your dish

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I love adding cauliflower to mashed potatoes, actually – it’s a great way to eat more mash, without being so full by the end ;)

  3. Rick Scott says:

    And the Irish have colcannon, potatoes mashed with cabbage or kale. A meal in itself when laced with butter and milk, as they do.

  4. Our favorite way to make mashed potatoes is subbing in roasted garlic for some of the butter. It’s so creamy and flavorful!

  5. Like my mom used to, I make “Gelberuebenstampes” – mashed carrots. Even though they are called mashed carrots, it is a mixture with about 1/3 to 1/2 potatoes. I love it especially with caramelized onions on top! So, I think I will love Irio, too.

  6. sounds like yummy mashed potatoes. i like all the veggies, and the colorful addition of sweet potatoes.

  7. This is definitely my kind of mashed potatoes!


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