The Pretend Chef

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Crispy, tender, Roasted sweet potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes make a good and healthy side to many sauces and stews, like the Nigerian Tomato Stew, Nigerian Egg Stew, Nigerian Tomato Sauce, Mackerel in Tomato Sauce. It also pairs excellently with guacamole.

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Mackerel in Tomato Sauce

Easy and delicious mackerel in tomato sauce

Mackerel in tomato sauce is a simple and delicious sauce that can be eaten with a variety of side dishes. Mackerel is consumed worldwide and is one of the most frequently eaten fish in Nigeria. Imported frozen,  mackerel is popularly called ‘Ice-fish’. It is an oily fish and a good source of omega 3 fatty acid. It is also called scumbia in Nigeria.

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Bitter leaf soup (Onugbu soup)

Recipes, Soups/ light soups | April 27, 2016 | By

There is nothing delicate or pretentious about Bitter leaf soup (onugbu soup). It is a full bodied soup that will take your tastebuds on a gratifying dining trip.

Bitter leaf soup is an icon of Igbo cuisine, especially to the Anambra Igbos of Eastern Nigeria. It is an embodiment of who they are…Bold and resilient. It is to the Anambra person what Ofe Owerri is to the Owerri person. Bitter leaf soup is what an Anambra woman will cook to show her competence in the kitchen (reminds me of the first time I cooked it). No menu for an occasion for them, is complete without onugbu soup and fufu or pounded yam.

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Indian coconut ladoo

soft, sweet and flavourful Indian coconut ladoo

Desserts/ finger food, Recipes | April 24, 2016 | By

Indian coconut Ladoo is soft, flavourful and sweet. Similar to Coconut candy, but with the addition of milk, it tastes like caramelized coconut ice-cream. It is delectable to the max. It is normally made with freshly grated coconut and is soft but not crumbly.

Indian cuisine is very rich and diverse, their range of sweets, snacks and side dishes always amaze me. During my A’levels studies, I had an Indian form master, Mr Ahmed, who was a very jovial man. Towards the end of our year with him, he invited the class over to his house for a farewell get-together.

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Nigerian Coconut Rice

Flavourful, aromatic and scrumptious Nigerian Coconut Rice

Recipes, Rice | April 24, 2016 | By

When one thinks of the tropics, it’s always the sun, blue skies and coconut. I just love coconuts, I love coconuts in curry, chocolates, rice, pigeon peas (fiofio) etc. The fresh aroma of coconut in the Nigerian coconut rice fills your kitchen, as it adds richness and flavour to your food.

My mother used to serve our Sunday lunch rice with sides of lightly toasted grated coconut, steamed green amaranth, roughly chopped peanuts, ground dry crayfish and so on. I would mix the coconut with my white rice and some salt and eat, no stew, nothing else.

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Hush Puppies

golden, crispy and soft hush puppies

Desserts/ finger food, Recipes | April 22, 2016 | By

Hush Puppies are fried cornmeal batter which are similar to Nigerian buns, the difference is the absence of cornmeal in Nigerian buns. It is a classic fried dough in southern United States.

They are golden and crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. The toasty smell of cornmeal and frying onions will stimulate any taste bud.

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Ofe Owerri

Luxuriant and authentic Ofe Owerri

Recipes, Soups/ light soups | April 21, 2016 | By

Ofe Owerri is a community symbol of the Owerri people of Eastern Nigeria and it’s environs. They are so proud of this rich and expensive soup that songs have been rendered about it. To make Ofe Owerri for your guests is a thing of pride, because it represents affluence and you are also judged by the quantity and quality of the ingredients used.

A thickened soup made with very finely shredded okazi vegetable, Ofe Owerri is a soup that is eaten up the same day, so no matter how much you spent, it all goes with that one pot of soup.

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Diet-Nigerian Pancake

Soft, sweet and spicy diet-nigerian pancake

Desserts/ finger food, Recipes | April 19, 2016 | By

Diet-Nigerian Pancake, when you hear Diet, you might wonder, what type of diet? Atkins, south beach, raw food…? but I have always known this delectable, life-saving Nigerian pancake by this name, Diet. Life-saving because, in my first year in the university, Diet was part of my breakfast every weekday. It was usually very oily. So, I would sandwich it between layers of serviettes and squeeze to get as much oil as possible out of it. This wasn’t for health reasons, but because I can’t stand greasy food, nevertheless, I just had to have my Diet…fills me with sweet nostalgia, my little spheres of pure delight.

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Jamaican beef patty

jamaican beef patty in all its golden glory

Desserts/ finger food, Recipes | April 19, 2016 | By

You might call them Empanadas, hand pies, or turnovers but Jamaicans call them Patties, Jamaican beef patty.

 I had just arrived our small rented apartment in downtown Toronto, hungry and tired. Daughter no. 1 and I decided to scout for something to eat. Of course there was an array of eateries on every street, but we wanted something close to home. We saw this Jamaican restaurant and went in straight away. Jamaican cuisine is quite close to Nigerian cuisine in that we both love our hot peppers.

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Palm oil Stew

Best Palm oil stew

Recipes, Stews/ Sauces/ dips | April 16, 2016 | By

That distinct smell of onions frying in palm oil is always so exciting to the senses and it really carries far. When I perceive it, I think Palm oil Stew, Palm oil jollof Rice, Fried Okro Soup, Smoked fish sauce and dishes just flash through my mind and I salivate.    

Palm oil Stew is similar to the Nigerian Tomato Stew, the only differences are

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