Respect The Jollof…Appio Restaurant and Bar

Have you ever seen a fat kid clutch on to their candy when they play around other children who possibly love candy more than they do? Why do they do this? They are probably afraid that they may get mugged…and their candy stolen 🙂

That was how I felt walking to Appio; a Ghanaian restaurant and bar located on U Street; close to Howard University in Washington DC. I walked into the restaurant and it looked quite chaotic…and I wouldn’t say it in a bad way. It just looked unorganized with quite a number of college kids.

The university isn’t too far from the restaurant, so quite a few students do patronize this place.

At first sight, Appio did nothing for me, but it was a last minute decision we made to eat there and seeing as I had an early evening flight to catch back to my base, I had to just make do.

Sitting in Appio, I felt as though there was no effort put into the setting up of the restaurant. The chairs were just strewn about the place with tables so low, you would think it was designed for a kindergartner. I took one look at my tour guide and said “let’s give it a try, maybe their food is good.”

The waitress was prompt with coming to the table. She was a dark skinned beautiful girl with a lovely smile. She seemed to me as one of those people who smile through everything. That actually is what waitresses and waiters are supposed to do while on the job; wear a smile. Though difficult sometimes.

As usual, I wanted a Mojito, but they had none. Please African restaurants in DC and the rest of the world, please learn to make Mojitos na! Warris this? Abi una want make I carry my own Mojito for hand dey waka? The gods forbid! Anyway, I ordered the Black Margarita and my tour guide had just water. E come be like say we dey vex.

I decided to request for some water before my drink would have been made and I requested lemons with it, and the waitress brought the lemons on a tissue…would have been nice if the lemons were served in a saucer 🙂

Finally, the Margarita came and on tasting it, it tasted like Zobo! Zobo y’all! Zobo mixed with Tequila! You say?! How can you serve Sorrel tea as Black Margarita?

Continue reading “Respect The Jollof…Appio Restaurant and Bar”

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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.

Continue reading “Ji Akwukwo Nni (Yam and vegetable pottage)”

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.

Continue reading “The Elixir That is Palm Wine.”

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

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

Continue reading “Suya…The African Love For Meat.”

Aphrodisiacs and the African Culture

What is an Aphrodisiac?

An Aphrodisiac is a food or drink or even a fruit that stimulates sexual desire/libido in a man or woman.

In the African culture, it’s almost a taboo to openly talk about sex. We believe the issues or conversations about the bedroom should remain in the bedroom and amongst couples.

On this post, I’ll be talking lightly about some African foods/fruits that are aphrodisiacs that can help in stimulating sexual excitement between African couples.

Ose i.e. chili pepper: Most Africans love all kinds of chili peppers. Who would have thought that it could stimulate sexual excitement. Chili peppers A.k.A Ose Nsukka are known to stimulate endorphins which causes one to sweat and gives that feeling of sexual arousal.

There is also the watermelon which contains Lycopene. It is known to be the master of all aphrodisiacs.

Continue reading “Aphrodisiacs and the African Culture”

Okw’o Oji(Spicy peanut butter paste)

They say the only language the Kola nut understands is the Igbo language. It was often chewed by laborers during the time of our ancestors to help decrease the feeling of hunger. There is no Igbo ceremony with out the breaking of the Kolanut. Usually prayers are said over the Kolanut and the closest family member to the one who prayed over the kolanut cuts the remaining Kola and passes it around along side some garden eggs (i.e egg plants) with a paste the Igbo’s call okwo’ oj’i. Okw’o oj’i is usually made with blended and whipped peanut paste. It is then mixed with some some aromatic ingredients in a small mortar.

Growing up, I loved the smokey taste of okwo’ oj’i. I used to sit right by my dad and mother during family functions and nibble on the egg plants and lick the peanut paste. Okw’o oji gets it’s distinctive name from the use of Okwa ie the small mortar in making/serving it. As we have different Igbo dialects, so does the name for this appetizer vary. Some Igbos call it Okwa Ose. I am from Imo state and some parts call it Okwo’oji. God truly blessed my ancestors.

For my spicy paste, I used peanut butter. You may use unsalted and dry roasted peanuts as it is the usual. You could use raw peanuts and the only work there is; is the frying of the raw peanuts until done; which after wards you peel off the skin, run through a food processor; then mix in the ingredients. The peanut has its own oil, so no need to add plenty to the blending process(a little goes a long way). Although I have a slight allergy to peanuts, for some reason it never really bugs me when I eat peanut butter. So due to it’s milder reaction, I decided to go with the with the peanut butter as opposed to using peanuts. It tasted just as the same as when I was younger . I did not have a mortar either so I used the closest bowl to a mortar that I had. I also served mine with some Thai egg plants because I had no kola in hand. In any case, I was able to bring back the fond memories of my father, the Igbo community parties, and my siblings…Nostalgia!

Now,  a quick lesson on how to make this paste, so you can wow your folks on your next family gathering :). You may even eat it with some apples during Christmas (My ancestors forgive me:))

For the ingredients, you may visit our shop at http://www.motherlandsfinest.com

Ingredients:

  • I lb peanut butter paste or grinded peanuts(not the boiled ones)
  • ½ tbsp of dry grinded Cameroon pepper or 1tbsp dry chili pepper powder(add more or less according to your heat tolerance)
  • half to one small bouillon cube. You may use salt if you prefer(if using salted peanuts, or peanut butter, always taste before seasoning)
  • 8-10 ehuru seeds(roasted and grinded into a fluffy powder)
  • Note…Ehuru seeds are also known as calabash nutmeg

 

  1. in a small bowl or small mortar, thoroughly mix your spices and peanut butter. Serve with kolanuts or garden eggs. Apples and pears would work too. I served mine with Thai egg plants

Note

  1. If using peanuts, blend until smooth. Gradually add a very small amount of oil and keep whipping until very smooth; then mix in the ingredients. The consistency may be a little different from the one made with the creamy peanut butter…refrigerate and enjoy
  1. in a small bowl or small mortar, thoroughly mix your spices and peanut butter. Serve with kolanuts or garden eggs. Apples and pears would work too. I served mine with Thai egg plants
  2. Note
  3. If using peanuts, blend until smooth. Gradually add a very small amount of oil and keep whipping until very smooth; then mix in the ingredients. The consistency may be a little different from the one made with the creamy peanut butter…refrigerate and enjoy 😊

Ghanaian Tatales and My Take On It

Happy thanksgiving!

I have been ill and I just kinda lost the will to write. Today, I feel a lot better, so I decided to make Tatales.

Tatales is Ghana’s way of preserving over ripe plantains. I haven’t met a Ghanaian who threw away over ripe plantains.

Tatales, are sweet plantains fritters or pancakes introduced by Ghanaians to the rest of the world ; unlike Jollof (yes I got jokes)…

Growing up Nigerian, my mother never really liked us throwing away food. We were constantly reminded of the children who had none. So this sweet recipe from our Ghanaian neighbors is actually well appreciated.

There are so many similarities between Ghanaians and Nigerians when it comes to food. I have to confess that having tried different foods from different African countries, I kind of prefer Nigerian and Ghanaian food. Well, the Senegalese created Jollof…sooo…

I have searched the internet, and I have found varieties of this recipe, but I kind of like my version better; even though I’m not Ghanaian.

Recipe:

1 very ripe plantain

2 tbsps. flour or corn meal

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ginger powder

1/2 tsp crayfish powder

Salt(a pinch)

chili flakes(a pinch)

coconut oil enough for shallow frying

peel and smash plantains. Mix with all the ingredients except the oil.

Heat up the oil and gently scoop dollops of the plantain mix into the oil and slightly flatten. Fry the tatales on both sides until golden brown but not burnt.

Enjoy with beans or by itself.

Nigerian Palm Oil Rice and Buying Nigeria (Iwuk Edesi)

There was a recent campaign for Nigerians to buy Nigerian. But if there is one thing to celebrate in Nigeria, it’s our agricultural sector.

Nigeria is rich in mineral resources, but we forget the gold mine we have in our agricultural resources.

One gold mine is the Ofada rice. To people in the diaspora, Ofada rice is gold. To a Nigerian Ofada rice is brown rice to others. Apart from the smell, it is very healthy as it is unpolished and full of fiber.

We as Nigerians, we take our resources for granted. Not only do we rely on oil, but we can rely greatly on agriculture.

The day I heard that Nigeria to imported tooth picks, I almost cried for my country. As many trees and timbers that we have, we are still importing tooth picks.

The Nigerian government, even with the production of various types of rice, continues to import other types of parboiled rice.

Not only must we fight corruption, but we must learn to put things in perspective. we must understand that our country can survive on agriculture too.

I saw a picture of a jollof sauce produced and packed by a Nigerian and a question was asked “would you buy this?” All the Nigerians on that thread vowed never to buy such sauces, but most would rather buy Ketchup made by Heinz. Nothing against Heinz, but if you can buy other condiments made by and in other countries; then you should be able to buy and grow Nigeria. In fact if I was a non-Nigerian on that thread, it would be difficult for me to eat anything Nigerian with the responses I read.

Continue reading “Nigerian Palm Oil Rice and Buying Nigeria (Iwuk Edesi)”

African Food and Special Needs

In childhood and human development, food plays a very important role. Today I’ll be talking about how African food affects human development with emphasis on Nigerian food. 

My son was diagnosed with food allergies earlier this year. It was very tough for me to accept it because as a food writer and blogger, I never want to be put in a box and be told what to cook and how to cook it. His allergies have the tendency to be really bad so he was given two separate epi-pens for emergencies. 

What did it for me was the epi pens. The fact that my son’s life is being threatened with food allergies scared the calmness out of me. I instantly went into research mode. I researched and got too confused until I bumped into this http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/plant-based-diets/ and http://nakedfoodmagazine.com/raising-children-on-a-plant-based-diet/

and it led me back to Nigerian food.

The best kind of diet to stay on while going through a special needs phase is an African/Nigerian diet. Our recipes are mostly plant based and usually cooked very fresh. It is also the easiest diet to get on for an Autistic child who is sensitive to Gluten and/or dairy.

Let’s pause for a moment and talk about Autism and food. 

What is Autism? “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.” speaks.org

How does food affect Autistic children? “In Autism and other neurobehavioral issues like ADHD, diet does play a significant role in creating and exacerbating symptoms. Almost all children with Autism, ADHD and learning disabilities have food sensitivities. However, the makeup of these sensitivities is different in each child. Identifying and eliminating foods that a child is sensitive to is very important; these food reactions often lead to more severe immune responses and create inflammation in the child’s body and brain. These children almost always have what is known as “leaky gut” syndrome, where foods that are not fully digested can get through the gut lining and come in contact with the immune system, triggering an immune response and creating inflammatory chemicals that can affect the child’s behavior and learning ability.” (Source…http://www.brainbalancecenters.com/blog/2013/06/adhd-autism-diet-behavior/). Also “Many parents of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) report that behavior improves when their children eat a diet free of the proteins gluten and case in. Gluten is found primarily in wheat, barley and rye; casein, in dairy products. Last year, clinicians within Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN) investigated the issue and found insufficient evidence of clear benefit.  We called for clinical studies, and these studies are now underway.”(source…speaks.org)

Basically what I’m trying to say is, African/Nigerian food being mostly plant based and close to nature is the most purest food to feed to anyone who needs a change in diet in order to eradicate symptoms of any special need.  Continue reading “African Food and Special Needs”