Good day to all. Today, upon blogger Cami’s suggestion/request, we will be exploring African foods. Nigerian recipes especially, and mostly that of the Yoruba’s the tribe to which I Obara Meji belong. I must say the first time I went to Africa and ate their food, it reminded me of Jamaican food. My first dish was Fish cooked with onions and pepper (pepe) as they call it and some dry yellow yam, along with something which reminded me of calaloo called Bitter leaf, delicious! Today I will give you some recipes of foods I have grown familiar with and quite fond of.
Any blogger who wants to know where to but African palm oil or Eba/Garri in Jamaica, please contact me, I know Africans/Nigerians living in Kingston who sell these items.
Ingredient for the Stew
1 -1/2 cup of Palm oil
4-5 Plum tomatoes
1 large Onion (preferably red onion, Yoruba word is Alubosa))
2 cups of water
3 small cubes of maggi (chicken bullion, or cubes)
Three scotch bonnet pepper (Ata), de-seeded (If the pepper are rude, use one, if they are not still de-seed)
In African cooking (Nigerian) we grind our vegetables, onion, pepper and tomatoes up into a paste. In the markets or in the front of peoples homes, there are people who offer grinding the vegetable as a paid service, using a grinding machine for a small cost. This service is used by those who have no blenders at home. In a Blender you will have already washed and diced the tomatoes, add them to the blender, no water as the tomatoes are already very watery, then the same for the pepper, and diced up onions, please note that in Africa, you use the pepe according to how much heat you like, but the tomato must outnumber the pepe, because the tomato is what will cool the heat of the pepe. Blend these together until smooth. Use your judgement to see if it is too thick, if it is you add just a small amount of water you have from the 2 cups, do not add all, you do not want it to be too thin. There are some red pepper which we use in Nigeria which looks like scotch Bonnet but are not as hot, I use up tp seven or eight of these, but do not play like that with Scotchie, it bad like we Jamaicans, ah just suh we tan
Cooking The Stew
Cooking stew for meat is very different from cooking stew for rice. this recipe is for cooking stew for meat.
In a pot, not a saucepan, a pot, heat the palm oil, this oil has a low smoking point (and it is very healthy for you) so you should not heat in on high, it should be done on medium heat and you should not step away from the pot. After the palm oil has heated up just a bit, you may see a small amount of smoke or a small color change, (it should not turn black, or you have burnt it and this will not taste good), you will now add your grinded vegetables which look like a thick paste and stir gently. Again you will use your judgement to see if after you have stirred it, if it looks too thick, if it does, then add some more from your remaining 2 cups of water and cover, and let it cook for three minutes, bare in mind that it should never look watery, nor too thick.
After the three minutes has passed, remove the lid and stir, if the thickness of the stew satisfies you in looks, and coats nicely the back of the spoon, then you will add salt to taste, begin with a half of teaspoon or so. Add your three small cube of Maggi, crush the cubes as you add them (if you use maggai, you do not have to use curry, but I still put a pinch of curry however), add a three quarters of a teaspoon of curry powder, and a half of teaspoon of dry thyme, stir and taste, (not from the same stirring spoon, please never do that), adjust to taste and continue to cook for about three additional minutes. After which, you will add your already cooked meat, if you do not eat meat, then add your vegetable, Calaloo, Spinach, cabbage, Bitter Leaf or even Arugula. You could also add meat and vegetable to the stew.
In Nigerian cooking what ever meat you will add to the stew would be made first, and set aside.
If you are using chicken, then clean the chicken very well, wash it with vinegar or limes (I like Vinegar, it cleans meat very well and also remove any smell), in Africa, I do not see where they wash the meats like we do in Jamaica, but as a cook, I believe we should wash our meats very well and clean it thoroughly, spend time doing this. In Africa the chicken is Organic, killed and given to you right there in the market, nothing goes on ice, the cows, pigs, goats are killed daily and sold in the markets. There are places which sell frozen chickens and fish however, But the meat are not easy to become tender as what we are use to, you will find them very tough and has to be cooked tender, although Africans like to fight with their meats, dem love tuff meat, its a wrestling match fi si dem nyam, lol. I guess why den teeth trong suh!
We cook our meats by seasoning the water with a onion chopped up, some curry, a cube or two of maggi a little salt, some dried thyme. The meat is cook tender for me, not so for them (dem love tuff meant, me cannot sey it enough) and set aside to be added to the stew when done. After the stew is cooked, then the meat is added, stirred in and after an additional 3-4 minutes the food is ready. The Stew that is. Let us now eat it with Eba or Garri, which is grounded white cassava, I love it the best.
Put a pot of water on to boil. After the water comes to a boil, have a container ready and a wooden spoon (wooden is best, I find), and also have ready reynolds plastic wrap. Measure out about three or four cups of the water add to the container, then add the Eba/Garri to the water, you should not be able to see water after you have added the Eba/Graai,begin to stir, combining the very hot water and Eba together forming something of a soft, not watery but thick consistency, try to get rid of any lumps, work you arm well as you do this. Add more water or Eba depending on the consistency of the Eba which should look well put together and pliable, it is to be eaten with your right hand. When you are satisfied with the looks, begin to portion out spoonfuls onto the plastic wraps and fold the ends together and twist, set aside and do the rest, or you could measure it out onto small bowls.
As time goes by I will introduce you to other recipes, which I have grown to love, and I have a very good palate, so if I say its good, it is good, plus I am a hell of a cook, no shame for me to say this as it is the honest to God truth!
Eba is Cassava grounded, it taste like our Jamaican Bammi, this is why I love it., below is Eba with stew cooked with meat and vegetable.
This is the stew and meat
This is stew with multiple meats, any amount of cooked meat and or vegetable can be added to the stew
Eating Eba with hands
Ojú tó máa báni kalẹ́, kò ní ti àárọ̀ ṣe ipin. /
The eyes that will serve one until old age won’t be rheumy in one’s youthful years….Yoruba Proverb!
[Whatever will stand the test of time will be known soon enough]
All religions are valid as long as it teaches peace and love…..Obara Meji!
There are no disappointments in life, only lessons learned…..Obara Meji
Obara Meji is a spiritualist, Ifa-Orisa practitioner, and teacher of metaphysics. Since 2011 she has used her online platform to share her personal experiences to those seeking answers about spirituality. Her teachings will expand into short stories, novels, and public speaking to continue her mission of bringing enlightenment to the world.