In 2019 a sitcom, Bob Hearts Abishola premiered on CBS, telling the story of the budding romance between an American businessman who falls in love with his Nigerian-born nurse. The show, which is set in Detroit, follows Bob as he pursues Abishola, a nurse who cares for him after a heart attack.
Bob slowly becomes familiar with Abishola’s family, the Nigerian culture and their traditions. During the show Abishola, her aunt and other community members often cook traditional Nigerian foods and many viewers have become curious about the unique dishes that they can only hear about as they watch the show.
The cuisine consists of savory Nigerian stews and vegetable dishes, all spiced with aromatic spices. Juicy Stakes invites you to check out some of these classic Nigerian dishes which include:
Pepper soup is a soup that’s traditionally made using goat meat but using fish or other meat works as well. Pepper soup is a prepared throughout West Africa and is comparable to the chicken soup that’s known in the rest of the world as a comfort food that also has restorative and healing powers.
Pepper soup is prepared in a variety of different ways and using varied ingredients but it always includes classic spices of ataiko, gbafilo and uda (ready-made pepper soup spice mixes are available for purchase). It’s traditionally eaten with sweet boiled ripe plantain and warm boiled yam halves which are drizzled with some thick palm oil that go well with the soup’s smokey flavours.
Preparation involves a large pot into which is put water, chopped meat, the spice mix, some salt, red chilli powder, maggi bouillon cubes and bundles of lemon grass bundles. Stir and allow to simmer on low heat till liquid comes to a boil.
Some people add uziza spice or black peppercorns.
Ewa Agoyin is a favorite dish that means, simply, mashed steamed beans with pepper sauce. It is commonly eaten with spicy tomato sauce and ground pepper, making it a peppery dish. It originated among the Agoyin People from Cotonou in Lagos and is a common street food, often referred to as ‘Ewa G.’
It’s a rich, smoky, flavorful dish which is similar to chili or other types of bean stew. It is generally served with the pepper sauce in the middle of the dish, the beans surrounding the sauce and yams, bread or rice on the outside of the dish. The three parts are eaten together.
The dish is prepared with dried tatashe or, for those who are living overseas, California chili pods/Anaheim peppers, Magdalena chilis or New Mexico peppers. The beans are black-eyed peas or honey beans and need to be soaked overnight and then boiled for an hour or two to make them soft enough to mash.
To make the pepper sauce, sauté diced onions in palm oil and then add the peppers and diced red bell pepper. Fry until its soft and mashes together. Add in your seasonings and spices – salt, cray fish, ginger and seasoning cubes.
Whatever else you’re cooking, if you want a true Nigerian meal, you should have a dish of jollof rice out. Jollof rice is a common dish throughout Africa but the recipes differ from one nation to the next. Nigerian jollof rice has a unique taste and Nigerians believe that it’s the best! Main ingredients are tomatos, chili peppers, scotch bonnets, onions and rice.
To prepare jollof rice, heat about 4 tablespoons canola oil and 1 tbsp of butter in a pot and add 1 diced red onion. When the onion starts to soften, combine with a blended mixture of 4 fresh tomatoes or one can of salt-free diced tomatos. Fry together with 4 diced red onions, 4 habaneo peppers and 2 red bell peppers. Add in crayfish spice and spices (Maggi cubes, salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, curry powder, white pepper, garlic/onion powder, ginger, thyme leaves).
Add in 4 ½ cups of rinsed long grain parboiled rice and 2 cups of chicken stock. Cook together, stirring frequently to prevent the rice from burning.
Efo Riro, which means “stirred leafy vegetable” can be made with any fish or meat plus spinach, scotch bonnets and red bell peppers. Seasoned with crayfish and flavored with iru (locust bean). Palm oil is suggested for an authentic Efo Riro taste but canola or another vegetable oil can be used if preferred.
Start by preparing the tomato sauce. Saute half of a red onion and when it’s brown, add it to a blended mixture of tomatos, 1 red pepper and 2 cloves of garlic. Cook the mixture together for about half an hour, stirring frequently. Season it with salt and powered dry shrimp.
If you are adding meat or fish to the mixture, do it now.
Add in 4 pounds of spinach (if you’re using frozen spinach, let it thaw and drain out the moisture). Add in fresh shrimp, fried tilapia and more salt if you want it.
All of the recipes above can be served along side fufu – pounded yams which have been crushed or stirred to a creamy consistency. If you pound it correctly you get a pull-apart dough-like texture that allows you to enjoy the dish with any stew or soup. Fufu is made with yams that have been harvested at least 3 months prior to cooking them.
To make fufu/pounded yams, you need to use white yams. Peel the yams and slice them into ½ inch wedges. Cook them in water for 10 minutes or until they become soft. You can pound them the traditional way, with a mortar and pestle, or if you’re in a hurry, put them on “pulse” in the food processor.
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