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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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.”

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 😊

Celebrating Ndudu by FaFa(Celebrating Food by FaFa)

It’s women crush Wednesday! If there’s any African Chef I totally adore, Fafa takes first place. Fafa is from Ghana in West Africa. She is so…I don’t even know how to describe her in simple words because it would be an understatement. Fafa is beautiful and so eloquent in speech,  she is a good cook and you will know this by how she mixes modern flavors with strong African flavors. Her food photography is one I admire…Now look at this Kelewele and tell me you don’t love the simplicity…

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She has a smile to die for and my favorite cooking video of hers is one which she did while making smokey jollof rice

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Her Africanness is so refreshing. She represents Africa a hundred percent and keeps it honestly funky. And she can slay!

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I remember trying one of her recipes for the first time. It was her fufu recipe. I had a craving for akpu i.e..Fermented cassava fufu, I tried making some, but it didn’t go well, so I found Fafa’s recipe for the Ghanaian method; which called for cassava(yucca) and unripe plantains and it was “bae!”

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Is it her suya recipe? Yum oh!

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I had an opportunity to ask Fafa some questions pertaining to her foodie life and honesly she is living the dream through her passion…Read on and smile 🙂

Servants of Africa: Tell us about yourself. Where you’re from and how you knew cooking  and the culinary sciences was your calling…

FaFa: “My name is Fafa Gilbert from Ghana and resident in the UK. My love for cooking started at an early age where my Mum entertained a lot. I was particularlydrawn to the layback attitude at dinner, the permanent smile and warmth from the guests. I started helping my Mum in the Kitchen (a great bonding session) and loved that I was acknowledged for the little dishes I produced. Eventually I took over the dinner parties and haven’t looked back since.”

 Servants of Africa: What was your first experience with food an how did it make you feel?

FaFa: “The very first time I cooked independently was a disaster and with tears I presented my Mum with the dish (over cooked and under cooked rice porridge mixed together).  My mum was very kind to eat her portion and promised to teach me how to cook. The next time I made the porridge, I added a touch of nutmeg and my Mum was encouraging with every morsel she had. “

 Servants of Africa: What’s your favorite food?

FaFa: “My favourite dish is made from Molokai leaves, known in my tribal language as ‘Ademe’ (Ewe tribe from Ghana). The leaves are added to a mixed Seafood and Fish broth, which accompanies a slightly fermented and steamed milled corn dumpling, known as ‘Akple’. “

 Servants of Africa: Who is your Chef muse?

 FaFa: “Raymond Blanc is my inspiration, as he skilfully turns everyday dishes into work of arts and immense flavours.  The fact that he has his own amazing herb garden and he is forever experimenting, tickles my sense of imagination. “

 Servants of Africa: I see how passionate you are on Instagram especially. Where do you find the energy o blog and how did you decide on “Ndudu by FaFa?”

FaFa: “Time management plays a pivotal part of my business and as such my diary is my best friend. A typical day is planned to the letter including my Yoga class, recipe updates, replying to requests, meetings, filming etc I would love to be perfect though, where I can respond to everything immediately. “

 Servants of Africa: Where do you see yourself in the future?

FaFa: “I’m inspired by what makes me happy, being creative and taking risk. Cooking offers me the above and more. The great sense of escapism, creativity, promoting African ingredients, are perfect aspiring attributes, that cooking offers me and will continue to ignite my passion. The future is exciting with new opportunities including cookery books and running my own Kitchen.” 

You can also watch Fafa do her magic on the following social media sites

Website:

http://ndudu.co.uk/

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/ndudu_by_fafa/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/NdudubyFafa/

 

 

 

Dry Fish. From Farm to Table (Who Chop Dry Fish Pass For Africa)

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  • Africans love dry fish, but I never met a set of people who love and eat dry fish as Nigerians do. Even me as a self-trained chef, I love dry fish. If you gave me a bag of dry fish, I would pick through it until I ate the whole thing. Have you ever tried soaking garri with cold water and dry fish? Praise the LORD!
  • I was always fascinated by how dry fish is processed i.e grown and dried(from farm to table). So, I did a poll on my Facebook page and someone commented with Eketi’s name as one who knew a lot about the rearing of fish. Eketi is a story teller and a fabulous writer at ketimae.wordpress.com . She doesn’t know this, but I’m a silent fan of her writing. Anway, I spoke to her and here is what she had to say. Continue reading “Dry Fish. From Farm to Table (Who Chop Dry Fish Pass For Africa)”