This is a version of champ - that dreamy Irish dish of potatoes, spring onions, butter and cream - but it's made with madumbis (also known here in South Africa as amadumbe).
A madumbi is a type of yam (Colocasia esculenta, or taro), with a rich earthy flavour and a starchy flesh. In South Africa, you might be able to find organic madumbis in Woolworths food stores, or perhaps at your local greengrocer's, where I bought mine.
I'm ambivalent about madumbis, but, then again, I don't have a taste for any vegetable with a starchy, slightly sweet flesh. I can do without yams (sweet potatoes, they're called here) and pumpkin entirely, and only barely tolerate butternut squash. But, in the interests of broadening my family's palate, I thought we might try mashed madumbis, champ style. They like the dish - "but we can't eat a lot of it, mom."
Madumbis tend to discolour as they are boiled, so add a thin slice of lemon, and plenty of salt, to the boiling water. Don't over-mash them, or they will become a bit glutinous.
If you can't get madumbis, try this decadent and delicious dish with ordinary potatoes. This recipe contains a scandalous amount of butter.
Mashed Madumbis with Spring Onions, Butter and Cream
200 g salted butter
a small bunch of spring onions, white and pale green parts only, finely sliced
2 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
1 cup (250 ml) cream
milk to thin the mixture
salt and milled black pepper
a few cubes of cold butter, and sliced spring onion
Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil, and add a thin slice of lemon. Peel the madumbis and cut them into small chunks. Put the chunks in the boiling water as you go. Boil until completely tender (about 40 minutes, depending on the age of your madumbis) skimming off any grey foam as it rises. Drain the chunks in a colander and set aside for a few minutes to cool and dry out. In the meantime, heat the butter in a deep pot and add the slice spring onions and the garlic. Allow to cook, very gently, for a few minutes, or until the onions are softened, but do not allow to brown. Tip the cooked madumbis into buttery spring onions and, using a potato masher, mash over a medium heat until smooth. (If you need a perfectly smooth mash, put madumbis through a potato ricer first). Add all the cream, and enough milk to make a smooth, creamy mixture. Don't over-beat the mixture, or it will become sticky. Season well with salt and pepper.
Pile the piping-hot mash onto a big platter - or onto individual plates - in a big, conical, volcano-like mound. Make a hollow in the top of the mound and fill it with a few cubes of cold butter. Scatter with a little more sliced spring onion.
Good with steak, boerewors and chicken.
Serves 6 as a side dish.