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Ayaraya ji is a popular meal in Nsukka, Enugu State. It is rich in protein and carbohydrates and is easy to prepare. This recipe was culled from Helen’s Food Ingredients
  1.  4 cups of fio-fio, known as pigeon peas (ogamgam is a specie of pigeon peas which doesn’t take much time to cook. See picture)
  2.  Half tuber of good, old yam (Ji ohuru, or new yam, is not good for this meal because it is slimy)
  3. One large bulb of Onion  Ayaraya Ji
  4. little mixture of Ose Nsukka (Yellow pepper) and Otanjere (Nsukka red pepper) or any pepper
  5.  One tablespoonful of Uziza
  6.  Ukpaka or Ugba  – Made from Oil bean, shredded. I use the well fermented ukpaka to bring out the food’s aroma. It’s not advisable to use the unfermented akpaka because it may add its bitter taste in the food. The fermented one is usually very soft and oozing.
  7.  Two milk cups of fresh red palm oil
  8.  One stock cube
  9.  Salt to taste


  1. 1. De-stone the fio-fio (pigeon peas) and pour in a pot of boiling water
  2.  Cook until soft, but not soggy (see picture)
  3.  Cut your yam into pieces and place them on top of the boiling fio-fio before it finally gets cooked, so that he water cooks the yam. At this point, you can add salt by sprinkling it over the yam so that it penetrates the yam down to the beans. Do not add all the salt needed for the cooking as you will need to add salt when preparing the sauce.Ayaraya Ji
  4. When the peas and yam are done, set them aside and then mash the yam in a mortar. Do not mash much so that the yam isn’t thoroughly mashed up. Some people use a knife to cut the yam into pieces, but using a mortar and pestle is good, giving it the local effect
  5.  To prepare the sauce, chop the onions into tiny pieces and then grind the balls of pepper and a little more onions
  6.  Pound the uziza
  7.  Place a dry pot on the burner and add palm oil
  8.  After a minute, add the onions. We add the onions immediately because if the palm oil begins to fry (bleach), it affects the taste and colour of the dish
  9. Add the grounded pepper and onions after two minutes
  10. Add the uziza
  11.  Now you can add the stock cube and stir. Add a little salt, bearing in mind the salt initially added to the pigeon peas and yam.
  12.  Add the ukpaka/ugba/oil bean
  13.  Pour the mashed yam and pigeon peas into the oil sauce
  14.  Use a wooden spoon to mix them together until the sauce is evenly distributed
  15. Your ayaraya is ready to eat!

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This article was first published on 27th February 2018


Amara Adanna Ogbonna is a Christian, foodie, and lover of arts. She spends most of her time on Facebook.

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