Ofada stew, Red Pepper Ofada Stew
Ofada stew can easily become your favourite stew. It is hot, hot, spicy-hot and a little sweet if done right. It fills your house with the sweet smell of hope…hope that something delicious is cooking.
Ofada stew is usually served with Ofada rice at parties wrapped in banana or Uma leaves. Ofada is the name of the town in western Nigeria where this rice is produced. The rice is unpolished with its own peculiar flavour and chewy texture. It is more expensive than many other varieties of rice sold locally.
There are 2 popular types of Ofada stew, red pepper Ofada stew and green pepper Ofada stew. The green pepper Ofada stew is called Ayamase or designer stew. This recipe is for the Red pepper stew. I learnt how to cook Ofada Stew from one of my favourite Buka sellers.
Cooked with palm oil which is a major source of its flavour, the palm oil is bleached to a pale golden hue. Generally, a lot of scotch bonnet is used, up to double what I used for this recipe but this is about the limit of my heat tolerance, feel free to use more or less.
Though Ofada stew is made with only peppers, I threw in a little whole tomato to calm the peppers down a bit and tomato puree for bulk and flavour. This stew is thick so a little goes a long way. It doesn’t need much seasoning just salt and a little seasoning cubes.
To prepare red Ofada stew
1 kg mixed meat 3 cups palm oil 2 medium onions (230g) 2 medium tatashe (110g) 12 pieces Shombo (140g) 12 pieces scotch bonnet 2 medium tomatoes 1 1/2 wraps Iru 2 cubes seasoning cubes 1/4 cup tomato puree shawa or cooked stockfish (optional) 1/4 cup ground crayfish 1/2 small onion Hard boiled egg (optional)
Wash mixed meat well. Place in a pot, season with salt and seasoning cubes.
Add a little water, cover and cook until meat is soft.
Put iru into a small bowl, add enough water to cover it well about 1/2 cup. Stir well to release any grit or sand on it, remove iru seeds, set aside and leave the water to settle.
Pour palm oil into a dry pot and place over medium heat.
Once it starts smoking reduce the heat to low, drop chunks of the small onion into it.
Heat until the oil has lost most of its colour and is a very pale golden colour.
Drop a little on a white surface to check if the colour is right.
Do not rush this stage, it can take up to 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, roughly grind together onions, tatashe, shombo, scotch bonnet and tomatoes. Do not grind to a smooth paste.
Pour ground pepper into a pot over medium-high heat and boil until reduced.
Add iru, iru water leaving the sand and grits behind, seasoning cubes, salt and 1 cup meat stock.
Keep boiling until reduced and thick.
When the oil is ready, take off the heat to cool a little, remove the onions.
Fry meat in hot oil, drain meat and set aside.
Into the oil, add boiled down pepper mix, tomato paste, shawa or stockfish and fry.
Add fried meat, ground crayfish and hard-boiled eggs. Stir and fry until dry 10-15 minutes.
Take off the heat.
Serve with plantain, yam, rice, agidi (eko), couscous, etc.
- You can substitute iru with dawadawa.
- Bleach the palm oil for a long time over medium-low or low heat. It won’t cause a lot of smoking and coughing unless on high heat.
- You can cover the pot of bleaching palm oil if you do it over high heat, this will help contain the smoke. After about 5-10 minutes depending on the quantity, turn off the heat and allow to cool before opening.
- If you cover the pot when bleaching the palm oil, your stew will have a smokey flavour.
- The chunk of onion added to the palm oil flavours it.
- You can grind everything together without iru then fry iru with the onions and pour in the ground peppers straight into the hot oil without having to boil it down first.
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