Ji Akwukwo Nni (Yam and vegetable pottage)

In the whole of Africa, there is this predominant love for vegetables within its people. I will fast forward to Nigeria…

I grew up in a home with two Igbo parents. My mother, cooked and she doused everything with vegetables. As in, I sometimes had to beg her to remove my portion before her veggie magic. You would see an empty pot of Ogbono soup boiling away and when you returned back into the kitchen, she had pumpkin leaves all over the thing. And yes, you had to eat it or stay hungry. Except of course daddy said “give her something else to eat.” As his baby nunu hehehe.

Of all the meals mother made, her yam and veggies was one of my favorites. My mother usually made this dish on Saturdays. It was usually for breakfast or dinner. There was something ecstatically beautiful about biting into a piece of sweet white yam with sweet satisfaction. Then the taste of Palm oil intertwined…you’d have to taste some to understand.

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The Elixir That is Palm Wine.

My memories of palm wine is both crazy and sweet at the same time.

First things first, what is Palm wine? It is pretty much an alcoholic drink created from the sap of different species of the palm tree. It’s also known by different names; depending on the continent/place where it is located. For example, the Cameroonians call it “Tombo.” And most Nigerians call it Palmy or Simply Palm wine.

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Health Benefits of Oha soup.

If you are a vegetarian or not, this Igbo soup is absolutely meant for you. It is sweet, nutritious and very easy to make. Oha soup is common in the eastern part of Nigeria and is known for how good it is in enhacing skin radiance and body health.

The ingredients needed in making this soup are the most important components of the soup, they are Oha leaves (as required), Cocao yam (15 to 20 medium sizes) or egusi seed (1 or 2 cups), Chicken, assorted, beef, goat meat, turkey, dry fish or mangala
Maggi (seasoning) 2 to 4 cubes, Crayfish (2 cups), handful of Uziza leaves ( although this is optional), 1 big Stock fish head, Palm oil 15 to 20 centilitres
0.2 cup of ofor or achi as an alternative thickener), Ogiri, salt and pepper to taste.

After getting the ingredients, the next process is to prepare the soup: Wash the cocoyam thoroughly with water to remove dirt and sand, then place in a pot, pour enough water to cover the cocoyam and boil until very tender. Peel off the brown back and pound with mortar and pestle. Blend your fresh pepper with crayfish and keep aside for later use. Pluck off the Uha leaves from the stem, wash it the same way you wash vegetable leaves then use kitchen knife to slice inti the size you want. The next step is to wash your meat clean, steam it with the necessary ingredients for few minutes until it is as soft as the way you desire it to be, while the meat is cooking add hot water into the bowl containing the dry fish and stock fish and allow to boil until tender. Add more (but small quantity of water into the pot of the cooked meat, red oil, blended crayfish and pepper, maggi and salt. Leave to boil; the soup will have taste even though it is watery then add the pounded coco yam or ground egusi (your choice) to serve as thickner. Also, add ogiri at this point. Stir and allow to melt before adding Uziza leaves and Oha leaves. Stir again and leave to boil for another 5 minutes.

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Photo Credit: Ifeyinwa Nzeka/Food musings.

Your Oha soup is ready to be served with any kind of swallow (eba, wheat, semovita or fufu). Do not miss out on this very delicious Igbo soup and considering it is a new month, make it your February healthy African soup. For detailed information, visit http://allnigerianfoods.com/uha-soup or http://www.nigerianfoodtv.com/2013/12/how-to-cook-oha-soup-ora-ofe-oha-ora.html?m=1

Bibiana Ossai © 2016.

African Groundnut Stew…Senegalese Maafe

Maafe, a word from the Wolof tribe means sauce stew or soup. Maafe is simply Groundnut Stew. Although this dish originated with the Mandinka and Bambara people of Mali, It is a favorite dish among the people of Senegal and Gambia.

Even with this dish originally known to the Mali people, most Africans from other countries have perfected it to fit their style of cooking. So pretty much like Jollof rice created by the Wolof tribe of Senegal, it’s now prepared by most of Africa with their own unique methods. Even Nigeria has it’s own version with scent leaves.

This stew to me signifies richness galore, just like the continent of Africa. Rich and beautiful; filled with natural resources.

This goes to show that no matter how different we seem to be, we truly are all the same in some very unique way.

Without much ado about nothing…there is a recipe below

Ingredients
  • 1lb chicken
  • ½lb beef or smoked goat meat(you could use any smoked meat)
  • ½ lb stock fish
  • 1 large dry fish(optional)
  • 1medium sized onion(chopped)
  • 1minced garlic
  • 1inch grated ginger
  • 2 plum tomatoes(chopped)
  • 3 fingers of okra(it doesn’t have to be sliced)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tsps. tomato paste
  • 2½ cups meat stock or water
  • 2 tbsps. coconut or peanut oil
  • 1 handful spinach( very optional)
  • a few sprigs of cilantro or basil i.e scent leaves(optional)
  • Bouillon
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Mix 2 cups of stock with the peanut butter until smooth; then set aside.
  2. Wash your ,meats and pat them dry. season them with a little salt and set aside for about 10 minutes while you prepare your other ingredients(you could pre cook your meats if you want. Season with salt, onion, bouillon, chili pepper and cook)
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot, add the meats and stock fish; then brown them. Add the onions, and sauté with the meats; then add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste for a few minutes; then add the plum tomatoes. Cook until almost reduced. Pour n the mixed peanut and stock and add the remaining half cup of stock.
  4. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat so that the soup comes to a low simmer. Cook for an hour or 45 minutes making sure that you stir occasionally to prevent burning. Once the oil floats to the top, stir in the okra and dry fish. Cook for about three minutes so that the okra does not get soggy;(it’s best to steam your okra separately and serve with the soup) then stir in the basil(if using), set aside and serve with any side.
Notes
If your soup is too thick, you could add some more stock. I like mine a little thick.
To make peanut butter, simply blend dry roasted peanuts in a food processor until smooth. You could add a little oil to smoothen(do not add too much)….Some people add very little honey(which is very optional; as I wouldn’t when it comes to making stew). I used already made peanut butter

Becoming Somebody II.

“We Will Rise” is a CNN film that showcases young women overcoming incredible odds to change their lives and do extraordinary things in their society. It is a mission by Michelle Obama, America’s first lady with the help of other strong women like CNN’s Isha Sesay, Meryl Streep and Freida Pointo. We Will Rise is one of the most compelling film-documentary that I watched in the last days of year 2016 and it made me realise that despite the fact Nigeria is evolving in so many great ways, there are a lot to be done to improve eradicate educational discrimination in some parts of the country.

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Becoming Somebody I.

Mama, I hear the field is green and the roses are red

The wildflowers are growing in the farmlands and

I just wonder when the girls will be one, Mama

When will the girls be like the boys?

Free like the air with a voice of authority

When will I truly live?

Mama, why cannot the girls be like Papa,

Working day and night to be somebody

Let me run till my feet grow weary

Let me fly till my wings grow faint

There is more to me as there is to life but

Doing nothing and being ill-informed is going to eat me up like a canker worm

Tell me Mama, am I just a sold out slave to nothing and everybody?

A help mate you say I am but how can I help when

I am just a bag of culture, religion, norms and limitations.

You can also read this post Nigerian girl-child the writer is very opinionated and optimistic.

Photo Credit: Diva Diaries.

Bibiana Ossai © 2016.

Suya…The African Love For Meat.

We are about to have a Happy New year while serving up some Suya!  There is this universal love for Suya amongst Africans that just warms my heart. At first, I thought it was more of a Nigerian thing, until I started seeing Ghanians and Kenyans making suya.

Suya is a form African street food in form of a kebab which is seasoned with a blend of aromatic spices. The meat is seasoned with the spices; then grilled over an open flame. The meat, when done is usually crispy on the outside and tender/juicy on the inside with the spices infused into every grain of the meat.

Let me digress a bit here.

There is something about meat that seems to make the average African happy and giddy with joy. It is supernatural! Living in Nigeria for example, you could see people spending time at different  ‘joints(a small make shift restaurant that specializes in finger foods and alcohol). Individuals spend time with friends at these places; having what seems like a serious conversation about politics, soccer and sometimes marriage and religion. These conversations are usually done over bottles of beer and trays of meat. From peppered snails to Suya and roasted spicy chicken. You could see in these restaurants, different people from all walks of life. Men with their “babes” in tow, munching away at some type of peppered meat or chargrilled suya…smiling, love and laughter in the atmosphere with a good bottle of Heineken stirring their conversations.

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image…@homemademealsng on instagram
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image…@Afrolems on Instagram
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images…@Nigerianlazychef on instagram

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Three Christmases in One Package.

1786 in the southern region of Judea, Bethlehem

the stars became cardinal points of the earth and a compass for 3 wise men

during a time, war raged in the heart of a mere mortal,

for a king was born and a gift given to the world.

People travelled from all poles of the earth to the manger

where a miracle laid shinning of a glory the world was yet to comprehend.

Halleluiah! Halleluiah!! A king was born and his reign forever.

Continue reading “Three Christmases in One Package.”