Wednesday, 29 May 2013

RICE & CARAMELISED ONION STEW

'Rice and stew' is jollof rice's humble alter-ego - never steals the limelight at parties and a bit underwhelming when you really think about it - but ask any Nigerian and they'll tell you that it is THE go-to meal. A bit too much of a go-to meal if you ask me but hey, I also get the impression we'd be pretty lost without it.
Can't think of what to have for dinner? "Let's have rice and stew!"
Got some guests coming over and need to rustle up something quick? "Let's cook rice and stew!"
Feeling uninspired in the kitchen? "Let's boil some rice and heat up some stew!"
So on and so forth.... Never gets old...

Red onions have always fascinated me. You know, the way they turn all sweet and caramelly when you sauté them long enough. I decided to make this scrumptious, sticky red onion infused stew. Served up with some brown basmati rice. Enjoy.


















Ingredients

(serves 2)
1 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups red pepper mix
1 large red onion (thinly sliced)
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Salt to taste

Boil the rice in salted water until soft.

To make the stew, sauté the onions in oil on medium-low heat until the onions are soft and sweet. Be patient with this, there's a difference between burnt onions and caramelised onions so keep the heat under control and stir the onions from time to time.

Add the red pepper mix and turn the heat up. Add the stock cube, curry and salt and boil the stew for 3-4 mins. Turn the heat back down to medium-low and simmer uncovered for a further 15-20 mins to allow the stew to thicken.

Serve hot on a bed of brown rice.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

BANANA, RAISIN, ALMOND & CHOCOLATE SLICES

We had one of those pot-luck dinners at church today and I decided to unleash my vegan baking on some unsuspecting taste buds. It sounds more devious than it actually is though. By now, most people know that I don't cook with meat, eggs or dairy so they're always curious as to what I'll come up with. I got some rave reviews, including the very hyperbolic "I could eat this all day". Given the chance, I probably could too.

But I think I'll let you be the judge.. if you ever get round to trying this recipe. 
You should. 
Really. 
It's rich, moist and super indulgent - talk about getting a sweet fix. Reminds me a lot of Mr Biggs' infamous birthday cakes.
Yet, when you really break it down, this is probably one of the healthiest snacks/desserts you could ever hope to enjoy. 

Ingredients

- 2 cups wholegrain flour
- 1/2 cup 100% cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
- 2 ripe bananas (mashed)
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds
- 1/2 cup vegan margarine (i.e. plant-based margarine)
- 1 tsp almond extract / vanilla essence

No big deal to this at all. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and give it a good mix.

Pour into a loaf tin lined with greaseproof paper and top with a few chopped almonds to make it look all rustic and home-made.

Bake in a pre-heated oven (gas mark 6) for 20-25 min. Insert a cocktail stick to check if it's cooked all the way through. If it comes out clean then you're good to go.

Leave to cool for about an hour before cutting into thick slices.

Friday, 24 May 2013

ADALU

Incredibly delicious and incredibly filling, adalu is a sort of porridge made with beans and corn. It's a comforting meal, not too complicated and packs a protein punch.


Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 1 cup beans (brown or black-eyed)
- 4 cups water
- 1 small red onion (chopped)
- 1/2 cup sweetcorn / freshly cooked corn (off the cob)
- 2-3 cups red pepper mix
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 2 tbsp palm oil (optional)
- Salt to taste

Cook the beans in salted water with the chopped onions (on medium-low heat) until soft. You may need to add some extra water as you go along. In the end you want the beans to be soft and the water almost completely evaporated.

Add the red pepper mix, corn, oil and stock cube to the beans. Simmer for a further 25-30 minutes on a low heat.

Tastes great hot or cold.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

RED PEPPER MIX

I mentioned in a previous post that peppers are pretty fundamental to Nigerian cuisine.  

This particular red pepper mix forms the base of most dishes, which is why I've decided to dedicate an entire post to the versatile mixture. It's not unusual to find some Nigerians lugging what seems like a month's worth of peppers, tomatoes and onions to the market to have it blended to a pulp in large grinding machines. The mix  is then divided into doubled up nylon bags or plastic containers to be stored at home and used for stews and soups and other Nigerian lovelies. 

To be frank, I'm also tired of having to write out the process for every single recipe that requires this mixture. From now on I'll just refer to it as 'red pepper mix' and provide the link back to this post.

Tip: make a large batch of this and store in the freezer. Whip it out when needed.

You'll need: 5 red bell peppers, 2-3 scotch bonnet peppers, 6 large tomatoes, two large onions, water.

Blitz the lot together to form a smooth mixture. Pour into a large container and pop in the fridge/freezer.

LIEBSTER BLOG AWARDS

Thank you to Berry Dakara for nominating The Vegan Nigerian for a Liebster blog award! :)










After a bit of research, I discovered that the Liebster Award involves tagging/nominating fellow bloggers who have less than 300 followers. I guess the aim is to encourage them to keep blogging, which is pretty sweet. There are a few fun rules to go along with it:



1. Thank the blogger that nominated you
2. List 11 random facts about yourself
3. Answer the questions by the blogger who nominated you
4. Nominate 11 other bloggers
5. Ask your nominees 11 questions
6. Notify your nominees

1. 
Thanks again Berry Dakara :) Everyone go check out her cool blog.

2. 11 FACTS

1. I can't snap my fingers.
2. I balance serious reading/literature with dumb TV shows.
3. I wouldn't mind being trapped in a bookshop for the rest of my life. Not even kidding.
4. I would like to travel the world. 9 countries so far and counting... I have a long way to go.
5. I speak French.
6. The fictional character I identify with the most is Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby
7. If it wasn't for my alarm, I'd wake up at 2pm everyday.
8. I'd like a life-sized lion (stuffed toy!) for my bedroom.
9. I can't wait to be 22 because 2 is my favourite number.
10. I cook a lot (if you haven't already noticed :D)
11. I'm a Christian

3. ANSWER QUESTIONS

1. Why is your blog name what it is? Pretty self-explanatory. Cuts to the chase.
2. Who's your favorite celebrity and why? I've always thought Jordin Sparks has a great personality. Then again, there's Denzel Washington with his awesome acting chops. 
3. What color shoes are you wearing right now? Pink and white (not as tacky as it sounds :p ...) 
4. Would you wear an engagement ring on your middle finger or fourth finger? (Yes it's such a random question, I know) Fourth. Who wears it on their middle finger?! 
5. What's your dream vacay destination? Such a cliché but some kind of remote island - sand, sea, sun, the works. 
6. #TeamNatural, #TeamRelaxed, or #TeamItsJustHairChillOut? #TeamNatural all the way. Looks nicer, feels nicer etc 
7. When was the last time you prayed? This afternoon. 
8. What's your favorite color? I've been drawn to green lately. I also had a purple phase not long ago. But blue will always have a special place in my heart - we go way back. 
9. What number child are you? 2! 
10. What's the last meal you cooked? rice and efo 
11. Would you rather do 100 jumping jacks or 75 squats? jumping jacks. Squats are weird.


4. NOMINATE 11 OTHERS

11. Ginger's Blog

5. ASK 11 RANDOM QUESTIONS

1. Why did you start blogging?
2. If you could be any fruit or vegetable, what would you be?
3. Would you every consider becoming a vegetarian/vegan?
4. What was/is your favourite subject at school?
5. Are you scared of the dark?
6. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
7. Favourite movie of all time?
8. If you could change your name to anything, what would your new name be?
9. Are you much of an adventurer? I'm talking bungee jumping, mountain climbing and all that jazz.
10. What's the greatest thing about being your nationality?
11. What do you do to keep fit?

That's it, folks!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

IYAN & EGUSI SOUP

Time to get all traditional with one of my favourite Nigerian meals - iyan and egusi soup. It's also a staple dish from my home town (Ilesa).

Iyan is the Yoruba name for pounded yam. The yam is boiled and then pounded to thick, smooth, dough-like consistency. Unless you have a giant mortar and pestle lying around, along with incredible upper body strength, then a food processor will do. You can find pounded yam flour in most African food stores, but why use that when you can make it fresh yourself? It takes a bit longer, but tastes a whole lot better.

Egusi is a thick soup made with leafy green veg, ground egusi (melon) seeds, tomato, pepper and onions. My vegan version is probably also a lazy version. No need to spend forever in the kitchen to make this tasty dish!

Ingredients

- 1/2 yam cut into chunks
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 cup ground egusi
- 5-6 cups chopped spinach
- 1 red onion
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp palm oil
- Salt to taste

To make the iyan, boil the yam in some salted water until soft. Place in a food processor and blend with a little water to form a thick, smooth consistency. Scoop into a bowl, ready to be served with the egusi soup.

To make the egusi soup, start by blending the peppers, tomatoes and onion with a little water. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the blended mixture. Season with salt and the stock cube. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the chopped spinach next and sprinkle the ground egusi over the top of the spinach. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes. The egusi should cake a little.
Give it a good mix and cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes.

Serve hot with some pounded yam. A winning combination.


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

VEGAN PEPPERSOUP

~ Feeling 'blah'?

~ In need of a mid-week pick-me-up?

~ Got a nasty cold you want to get rid of in double time?

~ Want a bit of a thrill without stepping out your front door?

Admit it - I've got your hopes up now, haven't I? I probably went a bit far with that last point but you know what, I have every confidence that this recipe is up to the job. Nigerian peppersoup is this gloriously spicy, distinctly aromatic broth.The original is laden with all kinds of meat (it seems that no part of the animal is spared in the traditional preparation) but my version is 100% vegan and delivers on taste and heat!

Disclaimer: this recipe is not for the faint-hearted! Honestly, if you can't stand mind-numbingly hot food then back away slowly... run even, if that's more your style... or make a tame version without the scotch bonnet peppers (I'd hate to exclude anyone, I suppose).


















Ingredients
(serves 4-6)
- 8 cups water
- 4 large slices of yam (cut into small chunks)
- 1 red bell pepper (cut into small chunks)
- 1 green bell pepper (cut into small chunks)
- 2 scotch bonnet pepper (cut in halves, seeds left in)
- 1/2 head cauliflower (cut into small chunks)
- 1/2 courgette or cucumber (cut into small chunks)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp chopped ginger
- 2 tbsp palm oil
- 2-3 scent leaves (or bay leaves)
- 2 vegetable stock cubes
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
-  4 tbsp quinoa (optional, but adds a lovely smoky flavour)
- Salt to taste

Place the chunks of yam, peppers, cauliflower, courgette/cucumber in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil as you add the rest of the ingredients (herbs and spices).

Cover and allow to simmer on very low heat for 35-40 minutes. Check on it to make sure the water doesn't dry out and give it a good stir from time to time.

Uncover and bring to a boil for a further 10 minutes.

Serve hot!

Monday, 13 May 2013

YAM AND SAUTÉED SPINACH

While digging around for a few facts about this wonderful root vegetable, I discovered that although it is grown throughout Africa, Nigeria is actually the world's largest producer and exporter of yam, responsible for over 70 percent of the world total output. For some reason, this makes me extremely proud and I'm not exactly sure why. And while I'm on the topic of weird sensations, I guess this would be as good a time as any to admit that one of my guilty pleasures in life is sneaking a bit of cold yam from the pot long after the end of the meal and munching my way through a thick chunk of the stuff. Again, not exactly sure why.

Moving on, I must admit that yam is not the most attractive looking vegetable around and if you're not used to cooking it, it might seem a little daunting at first. BUT once you get past the thick, knife-blunting, rough exterior, you've got yourself a versatile super food packed full of A B C vitamins, iron, potassium and dietary fibre to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Not bad, not bad...

I've kept this recipe pretty basic but it's delicious to boot. The mild taste of the yam soaks up the intense flavours of the spinach sauce. It's fresh and moreish all at once.



Ingredients
- 1/2 yam tuber (cut in thick slices and peeled)
- 3 cups chopped spinach
- 1 red onion (sliced into thin circles)
- 1 green pepper (finely chopped)
- 4 tbsp lentils or cooked beans (for some extra protein!)
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 1-2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp palm oil
- 1/2 cup water
- Salt to taste

Start by boiling the yam in lightly salted water until soft (but not mushy!).

To make the spinach sauce, sautée the red onions in oil for 5 minutes before adding the spinach. Sautée for a further 5 minutes then cover with half a cup of water. Add the cooked beans or lentils, chopped green pepper, stock cube, chilli powder and salt to taste. Leave uncovered and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated. 

Serve the yam and spinach hot. Enjoy!





Wednesday, 8 May 2013

PLANTAIN FLATBREAD

A soft, mellow alternative to regular bread. And it only requires 2-3 ingredients. Roll it out thin enough and you can even turn it into a wrap to fill with vegetables, beans and whatnot. It's great for tearing, sharing and dipping into hot & spicy soups. Try it with bean chilli too.


Ingredients
(serves 4)
- 2 ripe plantains
- 2-3 cups wholegrain flour
- 1 tsp chilli powder (optional)

Peel and cut the plantains into small chunks. Place in a large mixing bowl and add the chilli powder. Add the flour slowly, mixing as you go along, until you have a firm dough. 

Wrap the dough in some cling film and refrigerate for 20 mins. 

Take the dough out of the fridge and divide it into 4-6 portions. Roll each portion out on a lightly floured surface to form a round flatbread shape.

Cook each piece in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat for 5 minutes on each side (or until it has browned nicely)

Monday, 6 May 2013

COUSCOUS SALAD

A light lunch idea inspired by North African cuisine. I'm a bit of a couscous fiend to tell you the truth and this recipe is one of my favourites at the moment. Takes hardly any time to make, it's fresh, healthy and addictive for all the right reasons. The hardest part of this recipe is probably boiling the kettle - doesn't get any more accessible than that.

Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 1 cup couscous
- 1 cup boiling hot water
- 1/2 red bell pepper (finely chopped)
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper (finely chopped)
- 1/2 green bell pepper (finely chopped)
- 1/4 cup dried raisins
- 1 lemon (for the juice)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt

Place the couscous in a bowl and add the boiling hot water (straight from the kettle!). Leave to sit for 5 minutes, add the lemon juice and olive oil, then fluff the couscous with a fork. 

Add the chopped vegetables, raisins and salt. Mix it round a bit and you're good to go.

DODO AND BEAN CHILLI

Dodo is just another name for fried (ripe) plantain. Lovely on it's own, even better with something else on the side to make a complete meal.



















Ingredients
(serves 2)
1-2 ripe plantains
Sunflower oil, for frying
1 cup cooked beans (black-eyed, brown, red kidney...whatever you have at home)
3 tomatoes (finely chopped)
1/2 red bell pepper (finely chopped)
1/2 green bell pepper (finely chopped)
1 large carrot (chopped)
1 onion (finely chopped)
2 tsp chilli powder
Salt and pepper to taste

To make the bean chilli, place the chopped tomatoes in a large saucepan and simmer with a 1/4 cup of water for 5 mins. Add the chopped vegetables (peppers, onion, carrot). Simmer for a further 10 mins until the vegetables are soft (but not mushy!) and most of the water has evaporated. Stir in the cooked beans, chilli powder and season to taste.

To make the dodo, peel the plantain and cut into medium-thin diagonal slices. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the plantain slices. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook until golden brown underneath then turn over to brown on the other side. When done, drain on some kitchen paper to get rid of excess oil.

Plate up the dodo and serve with your scrumptious bean chilli.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

MOIN MOIN

Packed full of wonderful protein and fibre, this savoury steamed bean cake is a "superfood" in my opinion. Glance at any plate of jollof rice or fried rice at a Nigerian wedding or party and you're bound to see some moin moin hanging about on the side. It's not the quickest thing to prepare but the final product is totally worth all the effort.

There are various ways to steam moin moin but the traditional method is with ewe eran (banana leaves) which you're likely to find in any good African shop/market place. These are folded into little parcels to hold the bean mixture, giving you the signature pyramid shape - I will try my absolute best to describe this in the instructions below. The leaves also give the moin moin a distinct smell and flavour so it's worth buying some if you can. Otherwise, little ramekins or pudding moulds should do the trick.



















Ingredients
(makes 12-15)
- 2 cups black-eyed beans
- 1 red onion
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 vegetable stock cubes
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 bundles of banana leaves

Soak the beans (overnight, if possible) in warm water, then peel and discard the outer layer. 

Blend the beans, peppers and tomatoes with a little water to form a thick batter.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the stock cubes, vegetable oil and seasoning. You can get a little creative here and add some vegan extras like sweetcorn to liven it up a bit. Loosen the mixture with a bit more water. You want it to be thick but pourable.

If you're not using the banana leaves, divide the mixture into little moulds and steam on low-medium heat for 1hr 30mins until the moin moin is firm and solid.

If you're using the banana leaves, prepare a large pot by filling it a 1/4 of the way up with water. Now, grab 2 or three leaves at a time and lay them on top of each other. Hold upright in the palm of your left hand and start by folding the sides and then bottom in to form an open-topped parcel. 

Pour the mixture into the leaf mould, making sure you're still holding on to it securely in one hand. To close it up, fold the top section inwards and bend the loose flap backwards. Place it flat and ever so gently in your large pot of water. Don't worry if a little mixture seeps out at this point, even the experts can't avoid this (so I'm told...). 
Repeat this process until your pot is filled with the moin moin parcels.

Set the pot on a low-medium heat, cover and steam for 1hr 30 minutes until the moin moin is solid. You can test it by sticking a skewer or toothpick in to see if it comes out clean. 

Moin moin can be served hot or cold. Pair it with a plate of fresh salad and you've got yourself a tasty, light lunch.


GROCERY HAUL #5

I honestly feel like I robbed someone today. Here's a top tip: if you want a truckload of fresh produce at knock-down prices then make your merry way to a large produce market. Even though I hated going to the market with my mum as a kid (it was always too noisy, crowded or smelly), I'm beginning to realise that our parents and grandparents had it good! Nothing beats the experience of actually "looking, touching and smelling" before you buy. It's a highly sensory experience, not to mention the opportunity you'll get to practice your haggling skills!
When it comes to fruit and veg, most supermarkets will only charge you for the extra packaging, and chances are that you'll be left with some measly items that are totally lacking in taste and personality. Well, sometimes anyway...
So, whether you live in a small town or a big city, I encourage you to get out there and see what's on offer. Spread your wings a little and pay some extra attention to the food you allow in your body.

List:
~ Almond milk, yam, plantain, red onions, avocados, dark chocolate (vegans need treats too!), pawpaw (or papaya), tomatoes, spinach, maize meal, black-eyed beans, egusi ~



A few shots from the market I visited today.


















  

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

EATING OUT #3 - HAAGEN-DAZS

There are a few things to do if you find yourself in an ice-cream shop with a group of others.

One is to sit in the corner with your arms folded.

The other is to order a sorbet and join in the fun! Sorbet is basically a frozen dessert alternative to ice-cream. It's made with sweetened water flavoured with fruit (juice or purée).

You'll want to avoid the chocolate sorbet as it contains egg-whites.

Otherwise, there's mangoraspberry, lemon, peach, strawberry...

Haagen-Dazs has over 650 shops in 54 countries across the world so, for the folks in Nigeria, it probably won't be long before it makes its way over there. If you really can't wait, then I have a great sorbet recipe coming up soon.

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