Most people think that my perspective on food is purely intercontinental (read none Nigerian meals) and this is soooooo not true! I love our ethnic food just as much as I love any other food. Wherever we lived in the world, our Nigerian meals remained prominent on the menu.
You are talking about a girl that grew up on banga soup and starch; a delicacy that will be completely lost on you if you didn’t grow up in the Niger- delta part of Nigeria or at least have Niger- delta origins. I am from Delta state and my mum makes the freshest and bestest fresh fish banga soup ever! Ofe nsala is another meal that was a regular feature in my diet as a child; my grand mother used to make this amazing version with smoked fish and chunky snails (rest her soul). When my mum made Ukpo ogede (a steamed plantain pudding) I would be giddy with excitement barely able to wait for it to cool so that I could dive into its sweet, spicy yumminess.
In fact just a couple of weeks ago, I felt like a little girl again as I watched her make this meal in my kitchen. My sons and I attacked it shamelessly…….hmmmm…..that reminds me, don’t I have some stashed away in my freezer?
Right here I have my mum’s recipe and step by step guide for making Ukpo ogede and also for making ofe onubu (bitter leaf soup; a favourite amongst the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria).
My husband is from the Yoruba tribe and their diet is distinct from those of the Igbo’s in the sense that, their soups mostly have tomatoes as a base. This is foreign and even considered abnormal to the Igbos. So although we use similar ingredients for our soups, the way Yorubas prepare their meals is different.
This point was driven home to me, when I was newly married to him and as a new wife I was eager to show my cooking prowess and so I plunged head first into a local open market sourcing for the freshest ingredients with which to make ogbono soup (please don’t ask me for the English description for this soup PLEASE!) and after hours of labouring and prepping and cooking, I presented him with what I considered to be a fabulous meal! He took one look at my offering and asked “Where is the stew?” I was stunned? Stew? STEW??!!! Until that day, I had never heard of pairing stew with ogbonno!! When I told him there was none, he pushed the plate away and said he couldn’t eat it! I almost emptied the contents on his head!!!
In case you’re wondering, “stew” in Nigeria means a tomato and chilli base sauce which accompanies a lot of meals. It is a staple in every single household. It takes on different flavours and consistency depending on the part of the country you come from.
I learned the hard way, that stew is a must if I am to even dream of presenting any kind of Nigerian meal to my husband; lest I labour in vain.
I decided to showcase FFF’s take on Nigerian meals and the recipes of course 🙂
Here we have poundo yam and okra soup (Yoruba style). Full guide on how to make this here
Poundo yam is yam flour and. Is something of a novelty in Nigerian cuisine. Back in the day, you would boil yam and pound the heck out of it in a huge wooden mortar and pestle.
Now most of the tedium of making it has been removed by the availability of yam flour (called poundo yam) and technology; if you have a food processor or an electric yam pounder you can put your cooked yam in there and whizz away for a pliable yummy finish.
No Nigerian home menu is complete without a weekly offering of rice in one form or the other. The most popular being steamed white rice and stew.
This meal is almost always accompanied by a side of fried plantains.
In the northern part of Nigeria, they enjoy a Savoury rice meal called Dafaduka. It is delectable to say the least!
If you ever attend a Nigerian party and you are not presented with puff-puff or Puffies please fee free to institute action against your hosts! I am a lawyer and I will gladly represent you in court! Lol! They are a constant and for good reason too. They are small, tasty and deceptively filling!
We love our black eyed peas or beans (as we call it here). I made my take on beans on toast recently and you can try the recipe too.
As you may have noted, plantains feature quite a bit in our meals, we fry the, boil them, roast them, mash them……we do pretty much what we like with them! Lol. Roasted plaintain is a local snack referred to popularly as boli; I never did quite understand it but I took the inspiration of roasting plantain to make something rather interesting; grilled plantain “boats” topped with a tuna mix.
While we are on the subject of plantains, as a child we would have fried plantain and eggs usually on a Saturday morning. The eggs would be scrambled in tomato sauce, with chillies and chopped onions; very delish indeed.
Inspired by a recipe I saw in a foodie group that I belong to I updated my childhood memory with these plantain egg cups.
Recipe for a Plantain egg cups for one big serving or 2 servings
3 ripened but firm plantains
3 tbs chopped fresh chives
2 tsp dry ginger
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 tbs grated Parmesan (optional)
Salt to taste
Garnish more chopped chives and paprika
The How To
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees. Grease two ramekins with vegetable oil and set aside.
Wash and peel plantains. Using an mandolin or a very sharp knife, carefully slice the plantain lengthways to get long even slices about 1/4 of an inch thick.
Break eggs in a bowl adding chopped chives,black pepper, paprika and cayenne and salt and whisk until well combined.
Carefully lay plantain strips in oiled ramekins criss crossing them so that the form a “cup”. Season plantain with dried ginger and some salt. Then carefully pour in egg mixture up to halfway (the egg will rise so it needs space). Top with cheese (optional).
Bake in oven for about 18 minutes or until plantain is golden and egg set.
Let cool in ramekins for 5 minutes then gentle tease out. Garnish with a dash of paprika and more fresh chives if you choose.
Serve with a simple combo of mayonnaise and ketchup or any sauce of your choosing.
I find that the sweet tangy ketchup pairs well with the plantain and mayo balances out the eggs.
These meals are a tiny fraction of the amazing variety of meals available in Nigeria but they represent my interpretation of some of the more popular offerings.
FFF Tip of the day: Don’t be scared to incorporate fusion in your cooking; you will surprised at unlikely pairings that turn out deliciously!