Friday, 23 August 2013

AGEGE BREAD



I'm a little torn about this recipe. On the one hand, I am incredibly proud that I was able to recreate THE agege bread - down to the taste, texture, everything... On the other hand, making it from scratch has made me realise just how nutritionally void it is. Sure, you can replace the usual white flour with brown, but there's no escaping the copious amount of salt and sugar that goes into it.

Enough of the sad talk.

If you'd like to tear into Nigeria's scrumptious and signature take on bread, then keep reading.
For the uninitiated, agege bread is named after a suburb in Lagos State. It is loved for its dense texture and 'moreishly' sweet taste. You'd be hard-pressed to find a Lagosian who isn't fond of it and who hasn't used it to mop up some peppery stew or steeped it in a mug of hot tea.

Now you get to enjoy it any time you want, made in the intimate and hygienic (hopefully!) space of your own kitchen. It's also stupidly easy to make - so much so that I kept wondering if it would actually turn out like soft agege bread as I waited for it to bake in the oven.

Bread is such a hands-on thing to make and so my top tip as you embark on this recipe is to really rely on your instincts in terms of the dough texture. You want it soft and stretchy, but not sticky; most certainly not hard as a rock.

Ingredients
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 tbsp dried yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp sugar
- warm water

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Start to add the warm water a little at a time, mixing with your hand as you go along. You want to form a soft and stretchy dough that isn't too sticky. I used roughly a third to half a glass of water.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes until smooth then place back in the bowl and cover with a damp napkin. Leave to rise for about an hour.

Knead the dough lightly and place in a loaf tin (lined with greaseproof paper, if possible).

Bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 4, for 40-45 minutes.

When done, leave to cool on a wire rack. Or tear at it immediately if you really can't wait (to which I must add: I take no responsibility for burnt fingers).

Sunday, 18 August 2013

SUMMER DRINK #3 - ICED MINT TEA

There's just something special about a glass of fresh mint tea. The delicate flavour and intoxicatingly sweet scent make for a perfect chill-out drink on a lazy mid-August day.

Soak three whole stalks of mint leaves in half a litre of boiling hot water (in a jug or teapot). Leave to cool in the fridge for about an hour.

To serve, pour into individual glasses, pouring from a distance above the glass to add air and create bubbles. Top with a few ice cubes and enjoy!

Monday, 12 August 2013

MOSA

Every once in a while, I let that one plantain get away. A week or two passes by and the skin turns from a healthy yellow to a worrying dark brown with white fluff starting to form at the tips. Eugh!

Before you chuck that over-ripe plantain in the bin, here's a neat and simple recipe that restores the last bit of the plantain's dignity. Mosa is a yummy Nigerian snack that reminds me of a doughnut. Eggs are used in some recipes, but I've skipped out on that and find that the soft plantain acts as a good enough binder anyway.


















Ingredients

- 1 ripe plantain
- 4 tbsp wholegrain flour
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp chilli powder (optional)
- Sunflower oil

Place the ripe plantain in a large mixing bowl and mash to form a smooth purée. Add the rest of the dry ingredients.

Heat some sunflower oil in a frying pan and add the mixture one tablespoon at a time. You can fry in batches, but be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry on medium heat, turning over once or twice to brown both sides.

Drain on some kitchen paper and serve hot or warm.

Monday, 5 August 2013

PAWPAW CRUMBLE

I'm a little annoyed because I'm pretty sure I posted this recipe a while back. A quick glance through my archives made me realise that the post had somehow been deleted. Never mind! Better late than never.

I made this back in May when I put on a lunch spread for some friends who had never tried Nigerian food before. I made sure the mains were typical Nigerian fare - jollof rice, plantain, stew, efo riro etc. etc. (it was quite a feast) - but when it came to dessert, I wanted to try something different.
I suppose I'll have to call this one a fusion dish because a crumble really is the quintessential English pudding. I've just given it an exotic twist with some juicy pawpaw (a.k.a. papaya) instead of the traditional apple.

Once upon a time, we had a pawpaw tree in our backyard. It served us well and was a source of many glorious moments spent gnawing through refrigerated mounds of bright orange goodness. Then one day its roots went out of control and nearly destroyed a part of the wall surrounding our compound. It got chopped down and uprooted and I doubt I've ever really gotten over it. Pawpaw is high up there on my list of favourite fruits, along with mango and orange. It's packed with a load of vitamins (A, B, C), potassium, calcium and fibre. It's also low in calories at around 40 calories/100 g. Sweet!

Ingredients
- 1 ripe pawpaw (cut into bite-size cubes)
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup wholegrain flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
- 3/4 cup vegan margarine
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Place the cubed pawpaw at the bottom of a baking dish and squeeze on some lemon juice and sprinkle on 1 tsp of cinnamon. Give it a good mix and leave to the side.

To make the topping, place the flour, oats, sugar, 1 tsp of cinnamon and vegan butter in a large mixing bowl. With clean hands, bring the mixture together gently until it resembles thick breadcrumbs.

Spread the crumble mix evenly over the top of the pawpaw and bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 6, for about 30 mins, making sure the top is nice and golden brown.