Thursday, March 11, 2010

WELCOME TO MY NIGERIAN RECIPES


Hi,
My name is Francisca Okoye, welcome to my Nigerian recipes site.
Are you a Nigerian –“naija 4 life” in Nigeria, or in Diaspora? Are you nostalgic whenever you think of Nigeria and our heritage even in the days of our Forefathers when their wives strove to outdo each other with different palatable and appetizing dishes to capture the heart of their husbands?

Does your nose sniff the air in response to some delicious aroma or your mouth water when you think or even dream for a second of those delicious dishes at home, the Eateries, Bukas (Local Nigerian restaurants) Restaurants? And would like to have these Nigerian recipes to make these wonderful dishes for your family?

Are you newly married and you just would love to treat your brand new hubby to great Nigerian dishes courtesy of Nigerian recipes, so that those small naughty girls outside wouldn’t snatch him from you.

Are you a working mum or a career mum who likes to play with different Nigerian recipes to produce great dishes to the delight of your family, different from ‘the usual ‘.

Then I bid you welcome and I hope you find what you are looking for over here but I guarantee that you will have fun.

Nigeria is truly a blessed country with a rich cultural heritage; I am awed by the fact that we have over 200 ethnic groups in this country, each group with its own unique recipe, leading us to believe that we would have over a thousand Nigerian recipes.

I decided to set-up this blog to share with you these numerous recipes; not for an academic discussion, but something you can put to use. What is the essence of a recipe if you can’t if it cannot be used as a guideline to produce a good dish.

A cousin of mine who married an American lady – Monica, decided to bring her to the country last Christmas and it was exhilarating to see the way she was all praises for our Nigerian recipes going “gaga” over the various dishes she was introduced to during the period of her stay with us in the country. She praised particularly “our spices” which she said added ‘magic’ to the dishes, our vegetables which are unique and rich and our cooking style and pattern. I know she is right because look at all the white folks in the country who are so in love with Nigeria that they are now imbibing our culture, wearing our clothes and even preparing and eating Nigerian dishes, so much love “one love naija”.

Well Monica – Here is a shout out to you and an invitation to navigate this site and get loads of Nigerian recipes to make those tantalizing dishes that we taught you to make and lots more. Remember my cousin is a full blooded Nigerian who will never forget his homeland no matter what, so the way to his heart is through is stomach – go for it girl. I also use this medium to welcome Nigerians at home and those abroad who truly miss the great Nigerian recipes/dishes back home that you love and miss, Americans, Europeans and people the world over to this site.

Finally, I would also encourage my numerous readers to send their own recipes so that we can share them with other interested readers.
Enjoy yourselves as you start preparing my Nigerian recipes.

In Nigeria, our staple foods are divided into the following categories:

GRAIN/TUBER GROUP
Rice                                                    Wheat
Maize                                                   cocoyam
Yam                                                       plantain
Potato (sweet and Irish)
Cassava
Beans

VEGETABLE GROUP
Ugu (Nigerian pumpkin)                                  Onion
Spinach                                                               Carrots
Tomatoes                                               Cucumber
Tatashe (big red pepper)                   Cabbage
Rhodo (bell pepper)                                       Lettuce
Chili (long red pepper)                                   Okra
Shoko                                                         Egusi
Oha                                                        Efo
Okazi                                                      Utazi
Bitter leaf                                                          Waterleaf

FRUIT GROUP
Watermelon                                          Oranges                                          
 Pineapple                                             Avocado
Tangerine                                              Mango
Guava                                                              
Banana

MEAT/POULTRY GROUP
All types of meat
Poultry – Chicken, Turkey
Fish – Fresh, frozen, different varieties
Snails
Eggs

                                 GENERAL TERMINOLOGIES
Amala – Made from yam flour or cassava flour eaten with soup.
Beat stiff – To beat egg whites until they remain in stiffly upright peaks when a spoon, whisk or other tool is lifted out of them.
Bitterleafsoup - Vegetable (leaf) also from the Eastern part used in making soup
Blanch – To boil or steam for 3-5 mins, so that the food is partially cooked.
Blend – Liquidize or use an electric machine to make completely smooth, a sieve or strainer could also be used for softer foods or a mortar for firmer ones.
Bolus – Tuber food varieties that have undergone a change during food preparation and are now made into round shapes and moulded into balls when eating.
Broth – Stock or juice from cooking seasoned meat, chicken, turkey or others.
Burukutu – local drink made from millet, ground and allowed to ferment and brewed out from the fermentation.
Cream – To beat butter, sugar and butter or sugar with margarine/butter in a bowl until the mixture is very soft and fluffy and full of air.
Dredge – Sprinkle or coat with flour.
Flake – To break lightly with a fork into small pieces.
Fry – Pan fry in 2mm oil, deep fry in 5mm oil or deeper.
Efo - Vegetable added to soup to complete the dish.
Egusi – Seeds of melon, dehusked, ground and used in soups.
Elubo – Yam flour from yam used to make “Amala” which is a delicacy of the western part of Nigeria. It’s light and fluffy when well made.
E.t.c – And others too numerous to mention
Fufu – Made from cassava flour, eaten with soup.
Garri – Made from cassava that was fermented and fried until very dry.
Groundnut oil – Colourless oil used in cooking.
Kunu – Porridge made from millet seeds.
Mince – To cut into extremely small pieces as garlic or meat, chicken, turkey e.t.c
Oha – Vegetable (leaf) also from the Eastern part used in making soup.
Okazi - Vegetable (leaf) also from the Eastern part used in making soup
Palmoil – Palm oil (Red oil) type used in cooking.
Palmwine – Also called “palmi” brewed from fermented palmwine.
Parboil – To cook in water until the food is partially done but only for a few mins, also called blanching e.g. Rice.
Poach – To cook in simmering hot liquid, gently to retain the shape of the food
Pounded yam – Boiled yam pounded until soft and fluffy, eaten with soup.
Rhodo – Small red pepper that is hot and spicy used for making stew and soup.
Sauce pans – Pots of different sizes for cooking food varieties
Sauté pan – Frying pan also called skillet pan
Sauté – Fry gently over medium heat in a small mount of fat/oil until wilted (Onions will be golden)
Salad crème – Salad dressing thinner and tangier than mayonnaise
Scald – To heat the food substance to a temperature just under boiling point and then remove from heat.
Semolina – Flour from ground and sifted wheat, used to eat soup
Semovita - Flour from ground and sifted wheat, used to eat soup
Shoko – Vegetable added to soup to complete the dish.
Simmer – To cook over low/medium heat with a few bubbles breaking the surface of the liquid.
Sift – Sieve a particular food variety
Spatula – Wooden spoon/Utensil for cooking.
Starch – Made from corn flour and eaten with soup or used in making soup.
Steam – To cook on a rack over boiling water (for vegetable, fish,) or in a dish which is set into boiling water so that the hot steam cooks the food but the food is never touched by water.
Sometimes the dish is covered as in ‘pudding’ with foil or greaseproof paper tied with string.
Traditionally, banana, synthetic polythene bags or other leaves are used to wrap the food rather than a dish.
Tatashe – Big red bell pepper used in making stew and soup.
Tuwo – Made with Rice flour and eaten with soup.
Ugu – Vegetable added to soup to complete the dish.
Utazi – Indigenous to the Eastern part and it is a vegetable (leaf) used for making soup.
Uziza – vegetable (leaf) or seeds for ordinary soup and pepper soup (which is a delicacy enjoyed by all tribes in the Country and loved by all)

Each of these different food can be prepared in different ways to make great dishes, for example Rice can be boiled, ground into flours to make balls to be eaten with soup and other varieties, yam can be cooked, roasted, ground into flour, same for others, we will cover all these varieties as we go on.
Basically the grain and tuber varieties are normally mixed with the vegetable varieties for example, Rice and stew yam and stew, cassava flour and soup.

                                    EGUSI SOUP
The first dish for today is Egusi soup (also called melon seeds) with Eba (some localities call it garri, it’s made from cassava). You can also eat Egusi soup with pounded yam, fufu, starch, and Amala (made from cassava or yam) e.t.c. I will show you how to make these balls called bolus in these parts. Egusi soup is indigenous to a lot tribes, so no particular tribe can actually came its origin to them but I do believe that its origin was from Somewhere in the Eastern part of the country.
You can buy the raw or native Egusi in any market and there are 2 different varieties
1.      Hand shelled
2.      Machine shelled.
From personal experience, the hand shelled variety is better and tastier in the soup. You can buy the already blended ones on display or buy the raw seeds and have the seller blended them for you, caution though because most of the raw ones in the market have sand, stones and dirt in them so its wise to buy the raw seeds remove sand and dirt and blend with crayfish, remember the market woman doesn’t have the time and patience to remove sand and dirt.
For a good and thick soup its imperative you buy in large quantity. To make this truly delicious and mouth watering delicacy, follow the steps below;

INGREDIENTS : FOR FOUR TO SIX PEOPLE
Meat – according to your budget or if you prefer Chicken or Turkey
Shaki, Abodi, Ponmo – additional to meat (Optional)
1 big tomato cup of Egusi - blended
1 milk cup of Palm oil (Red oil) – Best type is the Eastern variety
1 medium sized Fresh Fish {cut into appropriate sizes}
1 medium sized Dried Fish {cut into appropriate sizes}
If you are on low budget, you can use either of the two.
4 Red Peppers (chili) – cut into small pieces
2 large Tomatoes – cut into small pieces
1 cup of Crayfish – blended
1 medium sized Stock Fish (Igbo – Okporoko, Yoruba – Kpanla) – cut into small chunks
1 large Onion
1 tablet of Seasoning – Maggi, Royco, according to individual taste
Salt to taste
Periwinkle (shelled) – optional
2 bunch of Vegetables (preferably Ugu, can also use shoko)

There are actually two methods of preparing this soup, I will teach both methods. Check them out and see the one that appeals to you more or for variety, try each on different occasions to bring a whole new taste to your Egusi soup, ride with me.

                                          PREPARATION: 1  
Remember before starting any chore in the kitchen, you have to wash your hands to disinfect them making them free from dirt and micro-organisms that are everywhere failure to do so leads to food poisoning (accumulation of micro-organisms in food pollutes the food making you sick when you ingest this food).

You need to put on your apron over your clothes; the need cannot be overemphasized because it keeps your dress/clothes free from stains and other possible harm.

It’s always better to get all your ingredients on the kitchen table before you start cooking, so that you don’t go looking for something and lose track of the stage in the preparation you are/were and produce a bad meal.

Lets Begin:
Cut meat into small cubes for thorough seasoning but not too small, sometimes its best to let the butcher cut it up for you into small pieces and you will agree with me that they are very good at this.

Wash the meat clean and put into a pot, wash the stockfish and add to the meat and if you are using the inner parts of the cow (Shaki, Abodi and Ponmo) they should be added with the meat stock at the beginning of the preparation and cooked together. Add a little Onion, magi and salt and simmer until tender or for 30 mins (Caution Male cow meat normally takes a longer to soften up but the female cow meat take shorter time and is tastier in soups, so buy wisely).

If your preference is Chicken or Turkey, have the people at the frozen food store cut it up for you, it’s easier for you that way, wash and put in to a pot, add washed Stockfish and seasonings as for meat and simmer. (Note: Chicken and Turkey doesn’t take as long as meat to soften, so watch it and check periodically so that it doesn’t become too tender).

If using fresh fish cut up into appropriate sizes and remove the waste and gills, up properly till clean put into a fresh pot season appropriately and simmer for a few mins – that short

If using dried fish break up into small chunks and add to the Meat or Chicken/Turkey stock and simmer together, not separately.

If you are using periwinkle, add to the meat stock and simmer together.

Blend tomatoes, onion (remaining part) and pepper into a smooth paste.

Add to which ever stock you are using and continue to simmer or about 20 mins but for this delicacy, am using Meat stock, so flow with me.

Then add the blended Egusi, magi cube, salt to taste, Crayfish (if not blended with your Egusi) and the parboiled fresh fish if you are using fish and simmer for another 20 mins.

Then add your Palm oil (Red oil) and simmer for a little while.

Wash your vegetable carefully as the soup is simmering, with lots of water at first then with water and salt and lastly with water again to get rid of sand and dirt on the vegetables and shred into small pieces of if you already had it shredded in the market then simply wash as instructed above.

Add the vegetable to the soup and simmer for 1 min (If longer the vitamin and enzymes in the vegetable would be completely destroyed by heat and at the end of the day you get nothing from the vegetable.)
Now our soup is ready for eating.

The second method is actually another method of cooking the same Egusi soup by other tribes but I bet you would want to try it out some other time, after all variety is the spice of life.

                                           PREPARATION 2
We will be using the Meat, Chicken or Turkey stock already prepared in preparation 1.

Blend your tomatoes, onions and pepper into a smooth paste.

Heat your Palm oil (Red oil) for some mins.

Add the stock you are using (in this case, meat stock) with the stockfish and dried fish mixed with it already, add also the blended ingredients and let simmer for about 20 mins.

Add the blended Egusi, magi cube, salt and fresh fish and simmer for about 15 mins. Then add your Palm oil (Red oil) and simmer for a little while

Add finally the already washed and shredded vegetable and let simmer for about 1 min (reasons in prep 1)

The soup is now ready and you can serve it with pounded yam, garri (Eba), semovita/semolina, fufu e.t.c.
Let me introduce you to other ways of preparing this delicious delicacy that is an alternative  to meat based dishes to nourish the body especially at these times that the Economy is at a downturn and mothers and wives want their loved ones to enjoy meals that are healthy, varied and balanced with the essential nutrients and vitamins., Enjoy!

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