Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nigeria in November...consonance coincidental.

When we narrowed down the choices for 'N' to Nepal, Nicaragua and Nigeria, I must admit that I was a little apprehensive. I thought that Nepal (much like East Indian cuisine) and Nicaragua (Mexican inspired, with a hint of Creole) would be the front-runners for the group. However, the group picked Nigeria. I grew up in the time where World Vision had visuals of hungry, distended bellies so the thought of making something from an African nation made me think of drought, not yummy food. Yet, I'm glad I came around to agree that Nigerian food is awfully good!

Again, sorry, no food pics. We'll do better next time. You'll just have to make each recipe to see how good each of them were! The appetizers in particular went down the hatch quite quickly!

Nigerian Cooked Eggplant Appetizer

1 large eggplant
1 teaspoon mashed sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, mashed
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons parsley

Peel eggplant and bake or steam until tender (about 10-15 minutes). Mash with wooden spoon. Add the sesame paste, salt, garlic and lemon juice. Beat until smooth. Mound on a shallow dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with piece of flat, like Pita.

Chickpea Bourekia

250 g (8 oz) cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup (125 mL / 4 fl oz) dry white wine
125 g (4 oz) goat's milk or other feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 egg, beaten
225 g (7 oz) phyllo pastry
Olive oil, as needed
Preheat the oven to 190 °C (375 °F / gas mark 5). Mash the chickpeas in a large bowl and set aside. Cook the olive oil, onion and garlic in a saucepan, until the onion and garlic are translucent. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and stir. Now add the wine and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. When the mixture has cooled, stir in the cheese, chickpeas, coriander and egg. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside.

Now prepare the pastry. Cut the phyllo pastry into rectangles about 10 cm x 20 cm (4 in. x 8 in.). Brush each sheet with a little olive oil. Put a tablespoonful of filling at one end of a sheet. Fold over the sides and nearest end of the phyllo and roll the pastry lengthways into a sausage shape.

Bake for 15–20 minutes, until golden in colour.

Nigerian Entrees

We tried out four entrees, one of which was a dismal failure. Word to the wise, when the recipe says to use dried black eyed peas (them chicken's jackin' my style!) for "Akara" don't use canned black eyed peas or the deep frying doesn't happen the way it should! Thankfully, the other three dishes were more than adequate. You can find the recipe at the bottom of the entrees if you'd like to let me know how it works out!

The spices and quantities were quite subjective (what, exactly, is a 'medium' fish) as apparently Nigerians don't do a lot of measuring. We tried to stay with the quantities as listed below, but it wasn't always the case!

The main dishes appear below:

Suya (like beek kebabs with dry rub)

3 teaspoons finely ground roasted peanuts
2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper, or red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger ½ teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 or 2 pounds of meat (beef, chicken, etc.), cut into bite-size pieces
1 onion peeled and cut into chunks
1 tomato cut into chunks
1 green or red bell pepper, cleaned and cut into chunks (optional)
• Make the ground peanut powder: Remove shells and skins from roasted peanuts, if necessary.
• Grind the peanuts into a fine powder (briefly pound them in a mortar and pestle; crush them with a rolling pin; or use a food processor).
• Be careful not to grind them into a paste. If the peanut powder is oily, wrap it in absorbent paper (paper towel) and squeeze for a minute or two.
• Stir the spices into the powder, mixing well.
• For really spicy hot suya, use more cayenne pepper; for a milder dish, substitute paprika for some (or all) of the cayenne pepper.
• Divide the peanut-spice mix into two parts, putting half in one bowl and half in another.
• Set one bowl aside.
• Dip and roll the meat in the other bowl of the peanut-spice mix, making sure the meat is completely coated.
• Allow meat to marinate for thirty minutes or more. (Get the outdoor grill going or preheat the oven while you are waiting.)
• Place the meat on skewers (alternating with the onion, tomato and sweet pepper, if desired).
• Broil in a hot oven, or grill over hot coals, until meat is done.

Jollof Rice

Oil for frying (palm or regular vegetable oil)
1 chicken
1 or 2 finely chopped onions
salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper according to taste
chopped chilli pepper
2 or 3 crushed cloves of garlic
bay leaf
curry powder
2 cups of chicken or beef stock or Maggi cubes
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
bell pepper or sweet green pepper, chopped
green peas or string beans
(carrots/cabbage chopped)
four cups rice
4 tbsp can tomato paste
2 tbsp dried shrimp or crayfish
fresh parsley and cilantro, chopped lettuce, shredded

Heat oil and brown chicken.

Remove the meat and add the onions, the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, bay leaf and curry in the oil.
Fry for a moment and add vegetables.
Fry the mixture until the onions become tender.
Add the stock and the chicken and boil for about 20 minutes.
Then add the dried shrimps/crayfish and the chilli and bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Put the rice in a separate saucepan. Add water and tomato paste.
Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until the rice is done (add warm water or broth if necessary).
Adjust seasoning.
Serve with garnishes according to taste.

Special Yam Pottage

1 medium tuber Yam
1 small bunch of Spinach
1 medium size Fish
4 medium size Fresh Tomatoes (ground)
2 medium size Fresh Peppers (ground)
1 medium bulb Onion
3 Maggi cubes
1-2 cooking spoons Palm Oil
4 cups water

Peel, cut the yam into small pieces and wash
Place in a pot, add water and cook
Add the fish and 2 maggi cubes then cook till yam is almost soft
Heat the palm oil, fry the chopped onion, the ground pepper and tomato
Fry for a few minutes, stir
Add the shredded spinach and the remaining maggi cube, stir
Pour the fried mixture into the pot containing the boiled yam
Add salt to taste, stir - Remove from heat and serve.




Makes 40-60 balls.

2 cups (or about ½ liter) flour

2 cups (or about ½ liter) water

½ cup (or about an eighth of a liter) sugar

2 teaspoons yeast

Some vegetable oil


  1. Mix the flour, sugar, water, and yeast together until the batter is smooth.
  2. Wait until the dough has risen. About 2½ hours or so should do. (I've heard that if you use quick-rising yeast, you don't have to wait, but I have not tried it yet.)
  3. Put vegetable oil into a pot, until it is at least 2 inches (or about 5 centimeters) high (too little will result in flatter balls), and place on low heat.
  4. Test to make sure the oil is hot enough by putting a 'drop' of batter into the oil. If it is not hot enough, the batter will stay at the bottom of the pot rather than rising to the top.
  5. When the oil is hot enough, use a spoon to dish up the batter, and another spoon or spatula to drop it in the oil, sort of in the shape of a ball.
  6. Fry for a few minutes until the bottom side is golden brown.
  7. Turn the ball over and fry for a few more minutes until the other side is golden brown.
  8. Use a large spoon or something like that to take it out of the oil. I usually place them on napkins right away to soak up some of the excess oil.
  9. If desired, you can roll the finished product in table sugar or powdered sugar to make it sweeter.



A few ripe plantains (Un-ripe plantains are usually green in color and hard. As they ripen, they become more yellowish in color and a little softer, and when they are getting too ripe, they start to have more and more black patches, and they are really soft).

Some vegetable oil


  1. Put oil into a frypan/saucepan, about ½ inch (or about 1½ centimeters) high, and place on fire on low heat.
  2. In a bowl or plate, slice or dice each plantain as follows (I'm assuming the plantain is lying down, so vertically means cutting along the circumference, and longitudinally means cutting along the length).
    • For larger slices, slice the plantains either vertically, or diagonally, so that each slice is about ¼ inch (or about ½ centimeters) thick.
    • For smaller pieces, cut the plantain into two of four parts longitudinally, and then slice vertically
  3. Place the cut pieces into the hot oil, spreading over the bottom of the pan.
  4. Turn over when the bottom sides are golden brown in color. (Some people prefer them more yellowish in color, and some more darker brown...any is fine because as long as the heat is low, the plantain will be cooked).
  5. Let the other side get brown to the same consistency as the first side.
  6. Remove using a spatula or large spoon.
  7. Depending on the ripeness of the plantain, you may want to put the fried plantains on some napkins first to soak up some of the excess oil.

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