Irio (Mashed Potatoes with Onion and Peas)

I have had Irio on many occasions when travelling through Kenya. It is originally a dish of the Kikuyu people. Irio is a hearty and nutritious accompaniment to meals and has many variations although potatoes and peas are the staple ingredients with corn often added. Irio is often paired with grilled meat (goat, chicken or beef) and is then called nyama na irio. This dish is such a staple that the name of this dish, Irio is the Kikuyu word for food. My sister in law, Lucy, who is a Kikuyu gave me this family recipe. One of the best irios I have ever tasted, was made by her.

A very African dish, low cost, but satisfying and simple

This recipe is:

  • Egg free
  • Gluten free
  • Lactose (dairy) free
  • Nut free
  • Vegan

Irio (Mashed Potatoes with Onion and Peas)

Serves 4-6 people as a side dish


  • 375 (13¾ oz) grams potatoes, peeled and chopped coarsely
  • Quarter of an onion, chopped fairly finely
  • 75 grams (2¾ oz) green peas
  • 75 grams (2¾ oz) spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 75 grams (2¾ oz) frozen sweetcorn, thawed before use
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • Pinch of salt (Himalaya or sea salt)
  • Pinch of pepper (black)


  1. Peel the 375 grams potatoes and chop coarsely.
  2. Peel the onion and chop one quarter fairly finely.
  3. Heat the 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a large saucepan.
  4. Add the onion to the saucepan and heat for a couple of minutes or until soft. Add a couple of tablespoons water if needed.
  5. Add the potatoes as well as the 75 grams sweetcorn and 75 grams green peas.
  6. Cover the vegetables with water and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes become soft enough to mash them.
  7. Place the 75 grams spinach in a sieve and squeeze out any excess water (if using frozen spinach). If using fresh spinach, wash and drain the leaves.
  8. Chop the spinach finely and transfer to the saucepan. Cook on high heat for 2 minutes.
  9. Place everything in a sieve and drain well.
  10. Transfer to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher. You can also place the potato mix in a food processor and mix for 10 seconds or until well combined and "mashed". Be careful not to over blend.


  • Serve with grilled food, chapati, brown rice and more.