Indian Influence: Spiced Yams & Sweet Potato

By Jessie Kaur,
Special to The Post
I love potatoes. Versatile. Comforting. Accommodating. They are perfect any time of the day, and some days, I try to sneak them into every meal.  
Just as I go through phases with potatoes, I do so with yams. Years ago, yam oven fries were my go-to food. It seemed the world was obsessed with them. Mashed, baked, steamed, and grilled – every casual dining restaurant had yams on the menu. Maybe it was the sudden overindulgence or overexposure, but I was no longer enticed by the yam’s sweet undertones - I wanted my classic tuber.
Lately though, yams have made a comeback for me.  But to be fair it's not quite yams I've fallen for: it’s actually a dish that combines both yams and sweet potatoes. Confused by which is which? My interpretation: yams have a brown exterior and vivid orange interior; sweet potatoes have a light brown exterior and yellowy white interior. Both are chock-full of amazing nutrients. 
Together, the sweet taste of yams is balanced by the more starchy sweet potatoes, creating a savory side dish.
• 4 medium yams
• 4 medium sweet potatoes
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
• ½ teaspoon fennel seeds.
Preheat the oven to 425F. Toast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a dry frying pan for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the seeds to a pestle and mortar or spice grinder and grind. Wash the yams and sweet potatoes, and remove and weird-looking parts. Do not peel them. Chop the yams and sweet potatoes and place them on a large, parchment-lined baking tray and toss with the oil, salt, black pepper, and toasted spice mixture. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until slightly charred and golden. Check with a fork for .
Jessie Lehail is the author of Indian Influence, a food blog that takes global eats and reinterprets them with a South Asian influence. Visit her blog at
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