Plantain porridge (pottage) is flavourful, rich and healthy, a regular in Nigerian homes. I grew up calling it a pottage, just like yam pottage too, but I came to realise that these dishes are more commonly called porridge, but who really cares, so long as it is amazingly delicious. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
Plantains are high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, dietary fibre etc. therefore Plantain porridge is really good for pregnant women. When I was pregnant with son no.3,
Ofe ugbogoro (melon leaf soup) is an Igbo soup from eastern Nigeria. It is super fresh and clean tasting and usually a one day soup. In order to enjoy this soup and take full advantage of the freshness of the vegetables, it is best eaten once it comes off the heat. This doesn’t mean it will taste much worse when eaten later, just that the crispness of the leaves won’t be as pronounced. The leaves are very seasonal usually abundant and easily obtainable during the rainy season.
This Cucumber drink Cucumber Agua fresca is clean tasting, refreshing, simple, and very easy to make. Ideally served chilled so on a hot day or after a session in the gym it makes the perfect coolant. Agua fresca is spanish for fresh water, which is an apt description of this drink. It can serve as a mixer for cocktails or a palate cleanser after a spicy meal.
Cucumber drink is ideal for mocktail/cocktail bars at wedding parties, dinner parties, christmas brunch,
SARDINE POUCH—Seasoned canned sardines in a pastry pouch. Simple, easy and tasty. Sometimes we are stumped for what to make, for small lunch boxes, get together, small chop, quick snacks or cravings. We might be low on snacks ingredients at home or just want something cheap but fancy, so we go to the pantry and rustle up something with whatever is available and voila! it looks good and tastes great. That is how the sardine pastry pouch came about for me. It is always a hit any time I make it.
Homework, goat trotters in spicy sauce is a variation of the more popular Nkwobi made with cow leg (cow trotters). The name Homework, I believe, came about because of the time and concentration devoted to eating this succulent dish. You need to get your fingers into it, nibble, chew, suck, lick,…there is so much “work” to do.
The first time my Renaissance man brought home this dish as a take-out from a local restaurant, I was sceptical. The goat trotters were whole, which was initially off-putting, but on tasting it, wow, wow… I became hooked. Now, when I buy goat trotters, I ask the butcher to cut them into smaller bits. This makes it more presentable and easier to eat.
The meat needs to be boiled until it is very soft, fall-off-the-bone soft. Some goat meat can be very tough, usually the female goat, so to save time and fuel, use a pressure cooker or add 10-15 pieces of dry beans to the meat (beans act as a meat tenderizer, this I learnt from my butcher and honestly still don’t know the science behind it).
You can also use any meat tenderizer that is totally flavourless and won’t affect the taste of the finished dish. Be careful if using akanwu (potash) to tenderise the meat because this extra akanwu can throw the recipe out of balance.
Ehuru needs to be roasted before use. The heat releases its essential oil which contains its essence and flavour. You can roast ehuru in a dry pan over high heat or over an open fire, better yet, buy the pre-roasted one in the market. Utazi or any good bitters is needed to balance the richness of the sauce.
Curry, thyme or crayfish are not used in making homework. It is a simple dish, which is where its beauty lies.
To make Homework goat trotters in spicy sauce:
Goat trotters salt seasoning cubes 1 tablespoon Akanwu water* Palm oil 2 ehuru or 1 teaspoon ground ehuru (calabash nutmeg) Scotch bonnet, (fresh pepper) chopped 1 large onions, sliced utazi leaves
*1 tablespoon Akanwu powder (10g) + 2 tablespoons water
Wash trotters well, season with salt and seasoning cubes, then add enough water to fully cover the meat.
Be careful with the salt because you will need a concentrated stock.
Cook meat until very, very soft and long enough to release enough gelatine from the bones into the stock. (This is what makes the sauce sticky and adds a lot of flavour to it).
Add more water as needed and cook down to 1/2 cup of stock.
Set the meat aside to cool down a bit.
Meanwhile, thinly slice onions and chop or grind pepper, set aside.
In a small bowl, put akanwu powder and water, stir until well mixed, let it settle a bit to allow any sand settle at the bottom.
Put palm oil in a bowl,
Add 1 tablespoon of the potash water and stir continuously using a wooden spoon, until the colour of the oil changes from red to yellow.
If it is cracking, add another 1/2 tablespoon of akanwu water and stir. This is called ncha (soap).
Add the ncha to the cooled meat in the pot. If the meat is too hot, the ncha, which is an emulsion, will crack causing the oil to leach out and the sauce will lose its consistency and taste oily.
Add ehuru, pepper, sliced onions and utazi to the pot (reserve some onions and utazi for garnishing).
Stir very well and taste, add seasoning cube if needed. Remember the stock is already concentrated, so it is most likely you won’t need to add any more salt.
Place over medium heat and stir frequently.
Stir until it has thickened enough and might start sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Take off the heat and serve on a platter. Garnish with reserved onions and utazi.
Serve with Palm wine, zobo or any drink of choice.
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Ofe awa, Awa soup is made with Awa leafy vegetable. It is native to people of Enugu area of Nigeria, especially Nkanu. I seriously wonder why the popularity of this soup hasn’t crossed the boundaries of this enclave. Ofe Awa (Awa soup) is so finger licking good, problem is, the vegetable is very seasonal. It is bountiful deep into the rainy season.
Awa soup should be given a special place in the pantheons of Nigerian soups honestly. Reminds me of a traditional
Achicha, dry cocoyam is pre cooked, sun dried cocoyam and it lends its name to the vegetarian dish made with it. Achicha is not only delicious and filling but low in calories. It is peculiar to the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria.
Cinnamon Muffin, there is something about cinnamon that always says welcome in a home. It fills the air with a warm comforting essence. Cinnamon Muffin is the first muffin I learnt to make and it still has a special place in my culinary heart. It is easy to make and tastes great, essentially one of my go-to snacks in an emergency.
They are tender and moist, and with the warm and fragrant aroma of cinnamon, you will keep going back for more.
Efo Riro (vegetable soup) unlike most other Nigerian vegetable soups, start with a base of a combination of peppers. From mild to hot peppers, each contributing something special to the delectable pot of soup. Efo Riro is native to the Yorubas of western Nigeria, the same way edikang ikong is to the Efiks of south-south Nigeria and Onugbu soup to the Igbos of eastern Nigeria.
In this Beetroot coleslaw, the trio of cabbage, carrot, and beetroot is health food supercharged. Beetroots have surely joined the list of superfoods. They are sweet, earthy and crunchy. My vegan and health food chefs, this is a toast to you. It is pretty to behold and tastes as pretty as it looks. Imagine having this platter on your dinner table.