A bright, comforting one-pot stew with West African roots – The Denver Post

By Yewande Komolafe, The New York Times

When I returned from Nigeria at the end of February, it was at the tail end of the Harmattan, a season when the winds from the north deposit the finest sand from the Sahara onto Lagos’ every surface. The city was hot and dry, and the markets were bursting with life.

I’m not a vegetarian, but in Lagos, nutrient-dense produce surrounded me, inviting me to cook with it. I was grating coconut flesh to extract its milk, pickling star fruit and replenishing the salad bowl with bunches of palm-sized spinach greens straight from the backyard.

Back in Brooklyn, I am still cooking, but mostly from my pantry, using staples and hearty vegetables that I am stretching as far as my imagination allows. I first made this spicy vegetarian yam and plantain curry on a hot night in Lagos, but I now find myself revisiting it again and again. It is a brothy version of asaro, a rich stew made in kitchens and bukas, or roadside restaurants, across the south of Nigeria, and it is my ultimate comfort food.