Photo credit/Image copyright: Abidemi Sanusi
When Tomi a.k.a. The Vegan Nigerian, asked me to write a post on vegan Nigerian food I said, ‘Sure!’ In my past life, I’d been a vegetarian for three years and in the last week of those years, I tried veganism. In addition, my diet is dairy-free and wheat-free, so I’m used to doing without meat in my food. So, when I was asked to contribute to this blog, I thought it would be a breeze.
Then Tomi said the food had to be Nigerian and then my stress levels rocketed.
I’m Nigerian and I love Nigerian food, but it’s not really my forte. For all my dairy and wheat-freeness, my specialty is really in north African/Middle Eastern food, mostly because I love the food and culture, but also because their food agrees with my food ‘situation’.
I thought long and hard about what to cook and came up with nothing. Out of frustration, I sent Tomi a tweet ‘You’re getting efo and pounded yam’. ‘Great’, she replied, ‘my favourite.’
So that was that.
What is pounded yam?
Yam is a tuber that is grown in tropical countries. It can be boiled, fried or used as a kind of flour, much like potato flour. Pounded yam comes from grounded yams. Some die-hards boil the yam (without the skin of course) and then pound the yam into submission to make the ‘pounded yam’ (see final picture below). However, I’m not a die-hard, so I make do with the dry, ground version.
Efo, also known as ‘vegetable soup’
Efo, in Yoruba language, is spinach. Different sub-groups of the Yoruba tribe have different ways of cooking this stuff. Personally, I like mine nice and simple, which is what you’re getting here.
3-5 tablespoons of olive oil
A cup of dry pounded yam
1/2 Scotch Bonnet
1 clove of garlic
200g baby spinach
1 tin canned tomato
Vegan margarine (voluntary)
Take the onion, garlic, scotch bonnet, canned tomato and blend.
Heat up a pan with some olive oil Let the oil get really hot. Empty the blended tomatoes into the pot.
Add a cube of vegetable stock (my preference is Knorr) Turn it really low and let it simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes When the tomato paste seems a bit dry, turn up the heat, so the tomato blend fries, so to speak. You’ll know it’s fried when the mixture looks dry and ‘holey’
Turn it back down to low, add the spinach, stir until it’s fully absorbed in the tomato paste, then turn off the heat.
In the meantime, take out the pounded yam.
Empty a cup of the pounded yam into a pot.
Add a cup of water to the pounded yam in stages, all the while stirring the mixture, so it doesn't get lumpy. You want a creamy consistency. Add half a cup of water to the mixture.
At this point, I add about a spoon of margarine to the mixture. But, this is optional.
Keep on stirring and pounding until the pounded yam is like kneaded flour and it comes away from the sides of the pot. The pounded yam is cooked when all of it comes away from the pot. Scoop a handful on a plate, add the efo and enjoy.
Like I said, I like mine simple. However, you can spice up your efo with some vegetables, like aubergines, carrots, courgettes or whatever takes your fancy. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I've got some Moroccan dish to cook.