Irio: Kenya’s wholesome mashed potatoes
The history of the potato is one that is borne out of simplicity and perhaps for the Irish people, famine. That perception went deep into my consciousness until I came across Irio, Kenya’s and more specifically the Kikuyu peoples of Kenya’s answer to elevating simple mashed potato into sophistication. Irio has only 3 or at most if spinach is added 4 ingredients – potatoes , green peas, corn and spinach. As if this is not interesting enough, I strayed a little away from the traditional Irio by adding 3 other ingredients – butter, milk and salt in an attempt to reach that silky and creamy crescendo to make this Irio even more luxurious than it already is. My twists are of course optional for the more tradition-centric cook who would rather have their Irio light and fluffy rather than creamy and smooth.
On a serious note, this is a meal that ticks a few boxes. The corn and green peas combo injects a doze of wholesomeness that basic mash will struggle to match. Whether prepared to mop gravy as in Kenya’s nyama na irio or as a side for say, a typical East African Nyama Choma or a West African suya kebab, Irio is a fantastic mash. Not least one that cuts across cultures and goes down well in it’s native Kenya as it does in the rest of the potato eating and mash loving world.