Nigerian cuisine is full of rich stews and soups like egusi, ogbono, and okro soup. To round out the meal, you'll probably see pounded yam served with it. Although it takes some effort, pounded yam is traditionally made by pounding boiled yam chunks into a thick, smooth paste. Many people prefer making it with time-saving yam powder instead. Just mix the powder into boiling water and cook it on the stove or in the microwave until it thickens.
Stovetop Pounded Yam
Pour 2 cups (470 ml) of water into a pot. Set a pot that's at least 2 US quarts (1.9 L) in size on the stove and pour the water into it. For the best flavor, use fresh water that you haven't boiled before.  X Research source It's important to use a large pot because the pounded yam powder expands a lot as it cooks.
Put the lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil. Place the lid on the pot so the water comes to a boil faster and turn the burner to high. Heat the water until you see steam escaping from under the lid.  X Research source If you have one, use a clear lid so you can see when the water begins to boil.
Mix in 2 cups (453 g) of pounded yam powder. Slowly add the yam powder while you stir constantly. This prevents the pounded yam from becoming lumpy. Use a sturdy spoon to help you stir the mixture as it thickens.  X Research source You can add the powder all at once but it will be harder to stir and you might have more lumps.
Stir the pounded yam until it's thick and smooth. Keep stirring and cooking the pounded yam until it starts to look smooth and stretchy. Turn off the burner when the pounded yam looks thick and doughy.  X Research source Stir vigorously to get the best texture. If your arm gets tired, ask a friend to stir the pounded yam while you take a break.
Serve the pounded yam with soup or stew. Get out a serving bowl and wipe the inside of it with water to prevent the pounded yam from sticking to it. Spoon the pounded yam into the bowl and mound it into a ball. Then, use the pounded yam to eat your favorite Nigerian meal like ogbono or egusi.  X Research source Don't store leftover pounded yam since it will harden over time.
Pounded Yam in the Microwave
Put equal parts of pounded yam powder and water into a bowl. To make 2 servings, put 2 cups (453 g) of pounded yam powder into a microwave-safe bowl. Then, pour in 2 cups (470 ml) of cold or lukewarm water.  X Research source Choose a medium or large bowl so the pounded yam has room to expand as it cooks.
Stir for about 1 minute or until the mixture is smooth. Choose a sturdy spoon or spatula and stir the powdered yam with water until the powder absorbs all of the water. Keep stirring until the mixture develops a paste-like consistency.  X Research source Stir vigorously so the mixture isn't lumpy.
Cover the bowl and microwave the yam for 8 minutes. Place the bowl in the microwave and put a microwave food cover over it. If you don't have a microwave food cover, put a paper towel over the bowl. Then, microwave the pounded yam for about 8 minutes without stopping to stir it.  X Research source If you like firmer pounded yam, microwave it for up to 10 minutes instead of 8.
Remove the bowl and stir the pounded yam. Put on oven mitts and take the hot bowl out of the microwave. Carefully lift the cover off so the steam doesn't get in your face. Then, use the sturdy spoon to stir the pounded yam for about 1 minute so it becomes thick and stretchy.  X Research source
Set out the pounded yam with Nigerian soup or stew. Get out a serving dish and wipe the inside with water. Then, spoon the pounded yam into it and shape it into a ball. Enjoy the hot pounded yam with ogbono, okro, or your favorite Nigerian meal! Don't store leftover pounded yam since it hardens over time.
Fresh Pounded Yam
Cut 1 yam into 1 inch (2.5 cm) slices and cut off the brown peel. Set a medium-size yam on a cutting board and cut across it to make 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick slices. Then, use a small knife to cut the brown peel from the outside of each slice.  X Research source Be careful as you use a sharp knife to cut the yam.
Chop the slices into 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks and rinse them with cold water. Lay each slice flat on the cutting board and cut them into 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide strips. Then, cut across each strip to make 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks. Rinse the chunks in water to get rid of brown bits from the peel.  X Research source
Put the yam into a large pot along with 5 cups (1.2 L) of water. Set a large pot on the stove and put the yam chunks into it. Then, pour in 5 cups (1.2 L) of cold water.  X Research source You might need more water depending on the size of your pot. Pour in enough water to completely cover the yam chunks.
Boil the yams over high heat until they're soft. Turn the burner to high and keep the lid off of the pot. Cook the yam chunks in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes or until they're soft enough to pound.  X Research source To test if the yams are finished cooking, slide a fork or knife through a chunk. You should be able to easily remove the fork or knife if it's done. If the utensil sticks in the chunk, boil the yams for a few more minutes and check them again.
Reserve 1⁄4 cup (59 ml) of hot water and drain the yams. Scoop out about 1⁄4 cup (59 ml) of water from the cooking pot and set it aside. Then, set a colander or strainer in a sink. Carefully transfer the yam chunks to the colander to drain the water.  X Research source If you don't have a colander or strainer, use a slotted spoon to scoop the yam chunks into a separate bowl.
Put the yam into a mortar and pound it with a pestle until it's smooth. Set a large mortar on your work surface and put enough of the yam chunks into it to cover the bottom. Then, push down on the yams with the pestle to break them into small pieces. Keep pounding down and add a few more yam chunks as you work. Pound the yam until it's completely smooth and stretchy.  X Research source If you don't have a mortar and pestle, put the cooked yam into a blender or food processor. Blend the yam for about 1 minute or until it becomes smooth and thick. Add a few spoonfuls of the reserved hot water to help smoothe the paste.
Serve the freshly pounded yam with stew or soup. Put out bowls of hot Nigerian dishes like okro soup or ogbono. Wipe the inside of a serving dish with water and transfer the hot, pounded yam to it. To eat the pounded yam, pinch off a coin-sized amount and scoop it into the meal. Then, eat the food in a bite or two. If your fingers get sticky while you're eating the pounded yam, wet them with a little water. Avoid storing leftover pounded yam since it dries out over time.