Monday, 21 July 2014

RICE WITH CARROTS + E-BOOK REVIEW

My super talented blogger friend, Ada, released an e-book today! When I first got into blogging, she was one of the first to welcome me and leave all kinds of lovely, encouraging comments on my posts. Before I get on to a review of her handy guide-book, I have a quick and easy recipe to share.

Don't let the simplicity of this dish fool you. There's something about this combination that I can't quite put my finger on and I found myself wanting to eat large amounts of it. Perfect as a side or even as a main meal.


Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 2 carrots (sliced)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- water
- salt to taste


Heat the oil in a cooking pot and sauté the chopped garlic for a few seconds. Add the rice and cover with enough water (approx. 3-4 cups). Add the curry powder, thyme, chili powder, stock cube, and season with salt. Stir, cover with a lid and turn the heat all the way down. When the water has nearly dried out and the rice is almost ready, stir in the chopped carrots and cook for a few more minutes to allow the carrots to soften. Serve hot or warm.

--

E-BOOK REVIEW: GET U.G.L.Y.


Low self-esteem. Body image insecurities. These are issues we all face at one point or another in our lives. In her no-nonsense guide, replete with personal anecdotes, Ada gets to the heart of the matter and offers her reader 10 fool-proof tips on how to achieve that sometimes elusive thing called self-acceptance.                                                 
By adopting the acronym U.G.L.Y. (Unconditionally Grateful Looking like You), she deconstructs the superficial label of 'pretty' and emphasises the importance of searching deeper and recognising the innate value we all possess, regardless of our outward physical appearance.                         

The tips range from the very practical (think posture and the power of smiling!) to the more abstract and perhaps more challenging ("stop trying to be pretty, work on being attractive" - a seeming paradox that she goes on to clarify with much nuance). 

The book will take you hardly any time at all to read and it must be said that the beautiful layout also makes the reading experience that bit more enjoyable. 

Why do I think it is worth checking out? Because although some of the tips may appear obvious at first sight, they are timely truths that we need to be reminded of as often as possible. So grab a refreshing drink of your choice, take a few minutes out of your busy day, and get stuck in.                                                            

Click here to subscribe to Ada's blog and get your free copy of the e-book!

Friday, 18 July 2014

SUMMER DRINK #4 - NIGERIAN CHAPMAN

Anyone else sweltering in the heat today? Summer is my favourite time of the year. I really can't get enough of it, because then I get to make tasty, refreshing drinks like this one.

Chapman is a popular cocktail drink in Nigeria which you'll find served at restaurants, bars and most big events. Next to the club sandwich, it exists in my memory as one of those fascinating things grown-ups had at fancy restaurants or sipped by the pool at places like Ikoyi Club. 

It's usually made using Angostura bitters, lemonade, fanta and some sort of blackcurrant cordial. If you run a quick google search, you'll find that there's no shortage of detailed recipes online. What I'm offering here is a healthier version of the drink. I've chucked out the soda and made a few swaps: 

fanta -> freshly squeezed orange juice
lemonade -> fresh lemon juice and sparkling water


Ingredients
- 6 cups blackcurrant juice or diluted ribena
- 6 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 cups sparkling water
- juice of 2 lemons
- lemon, lime, orange and cucumber slices (to garnish)
- ice cubes

I mixed mine in a large punch bowl and threw in a generous helping of sliced lemons, lime, oranges and cucumber. Throw in some ice cubes for some extra chill. 

                                      

                                      

Monday, 14 July 2014

VARO JOLLOF RICE GIVEAWAY WINNERS!

Thank you to everyone who entered the jollof rice giveaway. I've never had this many entries for a giveaway before, which only encourages me to do more like this. I wish I could give a box to everyone who entered but, alas, only 3 winners can be selected.

CONGRATULATIONS:

- Claire Efua Barber
- Akibo Tommie
- Nafisa Shehu

Please shoot me an e-mail at vegannigerian@gmail.com with your contact details.

Thanks again for the continued support. Stay tuned for more EPIC giveaways on the blog! :)

Saturday, 12 July 2014

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE POTS

Credit to Anemistyle for this beautiful creation, which has quite easily changed my culinary life :) I was spoilt rotten when I had lunch at hers this past week. You can check out pictures of the vegan dishes she rustled up on the Facebook page. One of the desserts she made was the very delectable 'bounty in a cup' which was assembled with creamy, home-made, vegan chocolate mousse and a soft coconut layer in the middle. The chocolate bar 'Bounty' used to be one of my favourites in my pre-vegan days and so I didn't even need to taste the dessert to fall head over heels with it. I was blown away by the texture of the mousse, and was unable to guess the secret ingredient to getting it so smooth and creamy. You probably won't be able to guess either, but you will be delighted with the results - trust me! The ingredients are easy to find and are all indigenous to Nigeria, so I hope to hear some feedback from a lot of you who try it at home!

A dose of spontaneity is always good for the soul so when lunch was over, we ventured to the nearby grocery store to pick up some ingredients to experiment a bit more with the chocolate mousse. The experiment involved flavouring some of the mousse with a touch of chilli, and topping with a range of fruits to see what worked and what didn't. Three tropical fruits were selected for the task - mango, banana, and orange. I will be reviewing the mango and banana.

Dried mango - this was probably my favourite combination. The mousse for this pot didn't have any chilli added, which I think was for the best as it would have overwhelmed the flavour of the mango. The mango added some extra sweetness and a chewiness to every bite - a welcome contrast to the creamy mousse and slightly crunchy coconut. It would be worth experimenting with some fresh mango to see if that works as well. If any of you do use fresh mango, let me know what you think.






Banana - the mousse used for this pot was flavoured with chilli. I overdid the chilli in this one, and have adjusted the recipe below. It was wayyy too hot, even for a spice enthusiast like myself. Chilli-chocolate is a wonderful combination when the balance is right, so go easy if you decide to add some. As for using fresh banana as a topping, you can't go wrong with that. I plan to re-make this soon using the amended recipe.







Ingredients
(makes 4)
- 2 ripe avocados
- 2-3 heap tsp cocoa powder
- 4-5 tsp brown sugar (or any sugar replacement of your choice)
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
- 6 tsp grated/dessicated coconut
- 1 tsp water
- 1 tsp brown sugar (or sugar replacement of your choice)
- Fruit slices (mango, banana, orange...whatever you have available)

To make the chocolate mousse, blend the avocados in a food processor or mash it by hand with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, 4-5 tsp sugar, pinch of salt, vanilla essence and optional chilli powder. Mix well to combine all the ingredients.

To make the coconut layer, place the grated/dessicated coconut in a bowl, add the water and 1 tsp sugar. Combine to form a soft coconut paste.

To assemble the dessert, start by layering some mousse at the bottom of a small glass cup or ramekin, making sure to smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Next, add a generous layer of the coconut mixture. Finish off with another layer of chocolate mousse, smooth it out, and top with some slices of fresh fruit. Sprinkle on any leftover coconut to garnish.

Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or until you are ready to serve them. It should keep for up to two days.


We also scooped some into tiny cupcake cases and topped them with different things: banana, coconut and mango, cashew nuts. Bite-size portions that can be frozen for a melt-in-the-mouth treat.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

VEGAN FOOD DISCOVERIES

Last weekend was particularly vegan-tastic. I had so much fun going out and about, discovering some awesome vegan treats along the way. The pictures are not great because this wasn't a planned post and so I spent less time being arty-farty about the picture quality... but they will give you a general idea of some of my finds. 

If you haven't followed me on Instagram yet then head on over to get a glimpse at some of the things I get up to when I'm not blogging - and also to check out some other vegan meals I eat (that don't make it onto the blog). www.instagram/vegannigerian 

This post will highlight a handful of my favourite vegan finds from over the weekend. You might want to check some of them out for yourself.

1. Greenwich Market - a surprising number of vegan-friendly stalls and market kitchens.

- Vegan Sweet Tooth (Organic Homemade Bakery)
I bought their chocolate brownie (and ate it before I remembered to take a picture). I had a difficult time picking something to try because everything looked so good - carrot cake, orange polenta cake, muffins, fruit tartlets, savoury pies etc. A really impressive spread. 

- Ngozi's Kitchen
A range of wonderfully healthy hot sauces made with peppers and tomatoes, from sweet/mild to extra hot. Low sodium, very little oil. Full of heat and flavour. I tried all the samples and eventually bought the sweet sauce. It went great with a bit of rice and plantain.

2. The V Delicious Show 2014 - vegetarian and vegan products exhibited under one roof = magical.

- Ruby's of London (Artisan Vegan Patisserie)
If there is any vegan company from the V Delicious show worth raving about, it has got to be Ruby's of London. We had a great conversation with the lovely co-ordinator who was so informative and friendly, as well as incredibly encouraging when she heard a bit about my blog. We were gifted with three gorgeous cupcakes - 2 'triple chocolate' and a 'raspberry ripple'. Apart from the beautiful designs, the cupcakes tasted like everything a good quality cupcake should taste like. Rich, fluffy and indulgent. I couldn't believe how perfect the textures were. Vegan baking extraordinaire.

3. Carnival - sun, music, food glorious food.

I attended a street carnival; spent a good 3 hours walking the entire length of the street and stopping to take in the different carnival attractions - dance performances, DJ sets, face painting, etc. I have decided that there is something indescribably enchanting about getting lost in a crowd. It wasn't that difficult finding something to eat. There were A LOT of barbecues, but also snatches of culturally diverse cuisines with vegetarian/vegan options. I settled on some flavoursome Nepalese vegetable noodles. When in doubt, seek out the less obvious food options.
                   



Friday, 4 July 2014

VARO JOLLOF RICE REVIEW + GIVEAWAYS ! (CLOSED)

Nigerian food going mainstream? Yes, please! I am so excited to be reviewing this product, and even more excited to be giving some packs away to selected readers. Keep reading to find out more.



Varo is a recently established company founded by Omamo Binitie, a Nigerian-born entrepreneur based in London. Their first product launch in February 2013 was ready-to-eat moin moin, available in over 100 shops across Britain and Ireland, including one of the largest supermarket chains, Tesco. 

Their latest product launch is the incredibly moreish jollof rice in two variations - plain and with vegetables. As I've mentioned before, jollof rice is probably my all-time favourite dish and so the idea of it being available to a wider audience across the UK at such an affordable price (it will retail at £1.60) is a thrilling prospect! 

I was immediately impressed with the packaging - clean design, professional, colourful and attractive. There is no way you could walk past it on a supermarket shelf without taking a second glance. I have tried a few rice-based ready-meals in my time and nothing comes as close to how flavourful Varo's jollof rice is. But then again, come on, this is jollof rice we're talking about. It's only the greatest style of eating rice known to mankind, as any loyal West African will tell you :)


Two minutes in the microwave and I had a delicious portion of jollof rice in front of me. At that precise moment, it struck me just how revolutionary this product is. With over 1.5 million West Africans living in the UK, any one of them could be having a lazy day and in the mood for a familiar taste of home without the stress and effort of cooking from scratch. A quick visit to their local Tesco store for a pouch of Varo jollof rice and they'd be sorted! Beyond this core target audience, non-Nigerians will finally get to see why Nigerian cuisine is worth checking out. 

What makes all this even better is that Varo's products are free from artificial preservatives or colours, and are 100% natural. 

I can't rave enough about how fresh the rice tastes, and there's just enough spice to satisfy those who like a bit of heat, but not too much to make it inedible for those with more sensitive taste buds.
Not content with just trying it by myself though, I had it as a meal with one of my housemates, Elisabeth, who is now excited at the prospect of making it a regular addition to her weekly shop. Says it all really.

Would I eat this again? Absolutely. Varo was generous enough to send me a mouth-watering stash and I get to share some of it with you too. 

Before we get to that...

Show some love and check out Varo on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!


GIVEAWAY

3 winners. Each will get a box containing six Varo Jollof Rice pouches.

The rules are simple:

2. Like, Share and Comment on the giveaway post (using the hashtags #varo #vegannigerian)

OR

1. Leave a comment down below
2. Share this blog post on a social media site of your choice (Facebook, Twitter..etc), tag @vegannigerian

Winners will be notified on Monday 14th July. If I don't hear back within 2 days, another winner will be selected.
Do get involved. This jollof rice is the bomb! :) 

                                            

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

SUYA SPICED VEGETABLE KEBABS

We had a bunch of vegetable skewers left over from a bbq we had over the weekend and so I decided to spice some up for dinner last night. 

Suya is a popular street food in Nigeria - a shish kebab usually prepared using strips of skewered beef coated with suya spice (a.k.a. 'yaji') and oil, and then grilled over charcoal. It is normally sold wrapped in old newspaper and is a firm favourite among consumers across the nation. Various spice mixes exist; this is my take on it. 

Here, I had a good mix of chunky vegetables to work with: red onion, mixed bell peppers, and mushrooms. Feel free to experiment with whatever veg you have available. Why not try cubes of parboiled potatoes or carrots...? The options are endless. The key thing is to get your spice right! And hopefully this post will help you achieve that.


Ingredients
(for 8-10 skewers)
- abundant mix of chunky vegetables
- 3 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 cup roasted peanuts (finely ground)
- 1 tbsp corriander seeds 
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp all spice
- 1 tbsp red chilli powder or cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt

To make the the suya spice, place the roasted peanuts, spices and salt in a pestle and mortar and grind to a smooth powder. Alternatively, you could place them in a plastic bag, seal and crush with a blunt object such as a rolling pin.

Place the mix of chunky vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle on the sunflower oil and add 3/4 of the suya spice, mixing well to coat all the vegetables.

Skewer the vegetables and line them up on a foil-lined baking tray. When you're ready to cook them, place in a preheated oven (gas mark 6) for 15 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked. Or place them on a barbecue/grill and grill as normal, turning frequently to prevent excessive charring. 

Sprinkle with the rest of the suya spice and serve hot.



Serving suggestion: with jollof rice