Irio (Mashed Sweet Potatoes)

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Irio is a substantial and nutritious complement to meals that originated with the Kikuyu tribe and has now spread throughout Kenya. Irio comes in a variety of flavors, but potatoes and peas are the most common additions, with corn being the most popular. This dish is noted for being served with grilled steak in a dish called nyama na irio.

What is Irio?

The meaning is much more plain, and the direct translation is food in the Kikuyu language- traditional Kenyan cuisine that originated with the Kikuyu tribe and has now expanded throughout Kenya and East Africa.

Preparing Irio

Many chefs prefer to use this below recipe because it only requires a few ingredients: potatoes, corn, peas, salt, and pepper, as well as boiling water. It’s incredibly simple, and you only need one pot to prepare your lunch or dinner!

This is a unique and delectable potato dish. You can use frozen corn and peas for this recipe. This recipe produces a thicker, chunkier mass than traditional mashed potatoes, but the ultimate product is quite delicious.

Variations of Irio

In Kenya, dried green peas are often used for this dish and need to be soaked in water and then cooked separately from the potatoes.

  • You can add a little butter to the final puree for a little more flavor if you like.
  • Lima beans or sauteed greens can be added to the puree for added flavor, texture, and color.
  • Some people prefer to boil the corn and sweet peas separately and then mash them with the potatoes.
  • For a more vibrant hue, add pumpkin leaves, spinach, or watercress.
  • To produce that vibrant green color in this dish, the sweet peas can also be boiled separately and pureed before adding it to the mashed potatoes.
  • In other situations, sauteed onions are also included, as well as a variety of other ingredients.


Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes


  • 2 cups Green peas
  • pounds Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • Water to cover
  • 2 tsps Salt
  • 2 cups Corn fresh or frozen


  • Place the peas and potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover.
  • Stir in the salt and place over medium flame.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are cooked through.
  • Drain, reserving the liquid.
  • Simmer the corn with a little salted water in a separate saucepan for a few minutes while the potatoes and peas are cooking.
  • Mash the potatoes and peas together with a potato masher or put through a ricer to form a pale green puree.
  • Stir in the corn with a little of the reserved liquid and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve hot.
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