Thursday, 11 August 2022

Peanut Butter and Banana Puff Puff

Puff puff is a classic Nigerian snack. Sweetened yeasted dough that is fried until golden brown. It's comforting and addictive all at once. In this recipe, I put a spin on it by adding some chunky peanut butter and banana. So good you won't be able to stop at one.

 Ingredients

- 2 cups plain flour
- 3 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1 ripe banana, mashed
- 1 cup warm water
- 2-3 heap tbsp unsalted crunchy peanut butter, at room temperature
- sunflower oil, for frying



Method

1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast, sugar, mashed banana and warm water. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm part of your kitchen for 1 hour.

2. Mix the batter to knock out some of the air bubbles. Add the room temperature peanut butter and fold it gently into the batter. It's okay if there are little lumps of the peanut butter.

3. Heat some oil in a frying pan, enough to deep fry. Once hot, add dollops of the puff puff batter to the oil. Fry in batches of 6-8 at a time, over medium-high heat, until golden brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Repeat this process with the rest of the batter.

4. Serve warm or cold. Store in an airtight container for up to two days. They taste even better on day two, if you're able to resist finishing the batch in one day. 

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

5 Essential Equipment in a Nigerian Kitchen

If you're just getting started with cooking Nigerian food, there are certain kitchen tools and appliances that are a must-have. They will certainly make your cooking more efficient, allowing you to spend less time prepping and more time enjoying the fruits of your labour. Many of these are recognisable, some you probably already have at home. And if not, I will be recommending some brands that you can check out. 

Check out Vegan Nigerian Kitchen for more cooking tips and insight into Nigerian cuisine!

1. Box Grater

A good quality box grater is needed for grating tough ingredients such as root vegetables and coconut. When shopping for one, try and go for a sturdy, heavy duty box grater.



2. Food Processor and Food Blender

Absolutely essential. A typical Nigerian kitchen cannot survive without these. You’ll need a food processor to prepare essentials like pounded yam or for peeling beans for Moin Moin. You’ll need a blender to make your stew base, break down your okra for Okra Soup, get a smooth batter for your Akara and in the preparation of many more dishes. They don’t need to be super fancy, but it is worth investing in good quality ones as you will be using them often and for many years to come. I'm a fan of Kenwood's food processors, which often come with a blender attachment and other accessories, meaning you don't have to invest in two separate appliances




3. Large Chopping Board

It goes without saying that this item is essential to every modern kitchen, and this is especially the case in a Nigerian kitchen. You can do with a standard sized chopping board, of course, but your efficiency will go to the next level if you can get a large board. You will need it for chopping up the leafy greens for your stews and soups, large/thick starchy vegetables such as yam and sweet potatoes and the many peppers, tomatoes and onions you will use to make batches of stew. This large organic bamboo chopping board is perfect for all your chopping needs.



4. Pestle and Mortar 

You’ll need this for crushing seeds and spices. I also use it to crush my garlic and ginger - two key aromatics that liven up many Nigerian dishes. I have a granite pestle and mortar that has served me well for many years and I can't imagine my kitchen without it.



5. Sieve, Colander and Straining Cloth

Many traditional and modern Nigerian kitchens will contain a sieve, colander and straining cloth. The sieves are used particularly for sieving milled grains and extracting uneven particles from flours such as yam flour. Colanders are great for washing leafy green vegetables and other gritty food items. Straining cloths are essential for plant milks and other recipes that require you to extract fine liquid.


Monday, 1 August 2022

5 Creative Plantain Dessert Recipes | Vegan and Gluten Free Options

The other day I was reminiscing about the recipes in the Plantain Cookbook, particularly the plantain-based desserts in there. I have always maintained that plantain is one of the most versatile ingredients out there and there's no limit to the meals you can create using it. 

Below are just a handful of the recipes in the book. I hope they inspire you to cook creatively and rethink how you use plantain. Which one would you like to try first?

1. Caramel Plantain Chip Energy Balls (gluten-free)

First up we have this easy but delicious sweet treat. When I worked at a vegan restaurant a few years ago, we used to make all manner of energy balls. It was always fun to mix and match different flavours and try out interesting ingredients to switch up the texture. This take on it, using sweet plantain chips in the filling, is a winner. Think chewy, crunchy and gooey all at once!


2. Chocolate and Toasted Coconut Bites (gluten-free)

Creamy chocolate, toasted coconut and sweet, chewy, caramelised plantain. Don't knock this combination until you've tried it! These are great to have as a quick snack or to serve as dessert appetisers. 


3. Plantain Chocolate Fudge Cake

I mean, come on! This recipe is inspired by the sweet potato fudge cake I used to make at the restaurant I worked out. You'll want to use sweet, ripe plantains in this to really achieve that fudgy consistency. This cake is so rich and indulgent, especially when served warm alongside some vegan vanilla ice cream. 


4. Plantain and Mixed Berry Mosa

Sweet, pillow-soft plantain mosa with bursts of tart berries in each bite. Mmmm. Mosa is similar to little dumplings or unleavened doughnuts. A delicious snack that's incredibly hard to resist once you start eating. This is one you can really play around with, adding different combinations of sweet fruits. 


5. Plantain and Carrot Cupcakes

One bite of this cupcake and you will be obsessed. It's all the beauty of carrot cake with morsels of sweet plantain infused into the batter. These are soft, succulent and flavourful. To serve as a dessert, you can dress these up with some vegan cream cheese frosting, or serve warm with vegan single cream.

Friday, 29 July 2022

One Ingredient Black Bean Flatbread | Easy Vegan Recipe


I bought some black beans the other week and just as I was about to make a simple stew with the beans I'd soaked overnight, the idea popped into my head to try out this flatbread recipe. I knew it would work because it's essentially flat, minimally seasoned akara. You can blend any type of legume into a thick paste and fry it, and it will hold its shape for the most part. As well as reminding me of akara, this recipe is also similar to the Indian red lentil flatbread I've spotted online.

This one-ingredient flatbread is a great gluten-free option for those who need it. Personally, I'll take a flour-based flatbread any day. Still, this was fun to make.

You definitely want to eat this fresh out the pan when it is still warm and pliable. Leave it out for any period of time and it becomes brittle and chalky - not so great for holding any bits of food you want to wrap inside it. Though I suppose you can still tear it up and dip inside your soup or stew. 

These wraps are aesthetically striking, with the slight purple tinge and flecks of black. Certainly a conversation starter at your next dinner party. 

I hope you enjoy trying out this recipe. Drop me a message on Instagram if you do. I'd love to know what you think!

Ingredients

(makes 8-10)

- 1.5 cups dry black beans (soaked overnight - it will double in size and yield approximately 3 cups)

- 1.5 cups warm water

- 1/2 tsp salt (optional)

- Sunflower oil, for frying

Method

Drain the soaked beans and place in a blender with 1.5 cups of fresh warm water and salt. Blend on high until you have a thick batter. It's okay if there are flecks of the black skin in the batter but there shouldn't be any large lumps.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add two tablespoons of the bean batter in the centre and use the back of a spoon to spread it out into a round, flat shape.

Cook over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes on one side. You may cover the pan to trap some steam and to help it cook faster, but this isn't necessary. Gently flip the flatbread over and cook the other side for another minute. Repeat this process with the rest of the batter.

Serve warm alongside a soup or stew. Or add your favourite fillings e.g. spiced rice, beans, avocado, stir-fried veggies, etc. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

5 West African Ingredients You Need To Try

 There’s nothing more exciting than expanding your culinary repertoire and cooking with ingredients you may not have encountered before. Unless you are from West Africa, the ingredients below may be completely new to you. Perhaps you’ve encountered some of them at a restaurant or perhaps you know of them through a friend or family member. Whatever the case, I hope this article inspires you to diversify your vegan menu and make these ingredients a staple in your household. The ingredients below are just a small handful of typical West African ingredients that I think everyone should get acquainted with. They can all be found at any well stocked African grocery store or even from online retailers.


1. African Yam

Tubers and root vegetables feature in many West African recipes. Beyond sweet potatoes and white potatoes, yam is worth adding to your shopping list. Indigenous to West Africa, they tend to be very large in size, with a rough brown exterior and a white or cream starchy flesh that is firm but fluffy when cooked. In terms of flavour, yams can range from mild and slightly sweet to slightly bitter depending on the variety. In Nigeria, yam is referred to as the “king of crops”, with an annual yam festival dedicated to this versatile ingredient. They are a great source of fibre, potassium and vitamins A, B6 and C. It is important to peel and cook yam before eating it. Treat it the way you would treat a potato by boiling it, frying it, roasting it or mashing/pounding it. In addition to eating them fresh, yams are dried and ground into flour that is used to make ‘bolus’ meals such as Amala.

If you’re just getting started, some delicious yam recipes you can try include Asaro (savoury yam porridge), Boiled Yam with Scrambled Tofu and Yam Pepper Soup.



2. Honey Beans

This variety of beans is also known locally as ewa oloyin or sweet beans in Nigeria. It gets its name from its distinctly sweet flavour. They are brown in colour, shaped like kidney beans but much smaller in size than typical kidney or black-eyed beans. They boast a ton of health benefits and are a great source of protein, carbohydrates, fibre, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. Like other varieties, it is recommended that you soak the beans for a few hours or overnight to reduce the gas that causes bloating and other digestive issues. You can cook and use them much in the same way as you would any other bean variety - in soups, stews, salads, and more. If you would like to explore some tasty West African bean recipes, I would recommend Ewa (stewed beans) with fried plantain, Akara (bean fritters) and Moin Moin (steamed bean pudding).



3. Egusi Seeds

Also known as melon seeds, these cream-coloured, oval-shaped seeds are indigenous to West Africa and come from a bitter gourd that resembles a watermelon. The seeds have a nutty, earthy taste and are predominantly used as a thickener and flavour enhancer in many traditional dishes. As well as being protein-rich and packed with essential fatty acids, they are a great source of vitamins A, B1, B2 and C. To use in cooking, the seeds need to be dried, hulled and ground to. A coarse powder. These days it is very easy to buy the whole seeds or ground seeds from African or international grocery stores. Try this mouthwatering recipe for classic Egusi Soup which you can serve with yam, fufu, rice and other starches.



4. Garri

Garri can best be described as a coarse cassava flour. It is made by peeling, grating or roughly blending fresh cassava to mash. The cassava is then fermented and dried to eliminate any toxic compounds before it is sieved and dry roasted or fried. You are guaranteed to find a bag of garri in most Nigerian homes as it is a much-loved staple. It is mainly used to make a ‘bolus’ meal known as Eba which is eaten alongside soups and stews such as Egusi Soup, Okra Soup and Efo Riro. It is also used to make a refreshing snack known as soaked garri or garri water, which is usually served with a handful of roasted peanuts. I have even used garri to make gluten-free cookies.



5. Bitter Leaves 

As the name suggests, this dark, leafy green vegetable has a distinct bitter taste. It boasts an array of health benefits and is a great source of protein, vitamin C, iron, zinc and folic acid. Used for its medicinal properties in traditional West African medicine, it is a common ingredient in many traditional soups and stews. Before cooking, it is recommended that you rinse the leaves several times to reduce or eliminate the strong bitter taste. Add small amounts to soups and salads, and try out this traditional recipe for Bitter Leaf Soup. 



If this list whets your appetite then you will love my cookbook Vegan Nigerian Kitchen

Thursday, 21 July 2022

Top 5 Vegan Wedding Cake and Dessert Suppliers in London

If you're choosing to have a cake or a spread of desserts at your wedding, then the list below is for you. London-based vegan couples can rejoice at the range of fully vegan offerings available in the city. Whether you're looking for a traditional tiered cake, a healthy raw vegan cake, a more modern cupcake tower or something chic and minimalist, there is something for everyone here.

One of the best parts of wedding planning is arguably deciding on a cake and enjoying cake tastings. Be prepared to be wowed by the plant-based options in this post. Enjoy!

1. Dear Friend Bakery

The cakes by Dear Friend Bakery are simply magical. With delicate floral designs and flavour-packed cake options, you won't be disappointed on your big day. They are able to customise the cake according to your wishes, offering different tier levels and sizes. You can even arrange a cake tasting before you decide - you'll get three flavours of your choice delivered to your door. The customer service is impeccable, and with direct delivery to your venue on the day of your wedding, you can sit back and relax. Visit their website for more. 

 

2. Arapina

Arapina is an award-winning healthy lifestyle bakery offering vegan, organic and free from options to their clients. They can create a bespoke wedding cake for your occasion and will deliver to your venue on the the day. Aside from a cake, you can also order vegan truffles, raw desserts, macarons, tarts and cookies. Visit their website for more.



3. Vida Bakery

Located in East London, this vegan bakery is able to customise your wedding cake according to your specifications. Their designs are bold and beautiful. Simply fill in their online form with details of the type of cake you have in mind and a member of their team will be in touch. Visit their website for more.


4. Organic Livity

Organic Livity specialise is custom-made vegan patisserie, offering (as the name suggests) 100% organic creations that also happen to be gluten-free. They shine when it comes to their raw celebration cakes so this is perfect for a couple looking for a wonderfully healthy take on their wedding cake. Their fresh tarts, macarons and eclairs will add a touch of class to your dessert table too. It's the attention to detail and dedication to high quality ingredients that make them impressive indeed. Visit their website for more.


5. Ruby's of London

This London bakery is perfect for couples that want something a little unique on their wedding day. you can indeed order one of their round cakes, but Ruby's also specialises in cupcake towers, doughnut towers and bespoke dessert table. The eye-catching and elegant designs are sure to wow your guests. Fill in their online form to get started. 


Wednesday, 20 July 2022

12 Edible Vegan Wedding Favour Ideas Your Guests Will Love

You're planning a vegan wedding and looking to gift your guests with an unforgettable treat. 

Let's face it - non-edible gifts are cool and all but the chances of your guests leaving them behind (either through forgetfulness or not wanting yet another item to clutter their space) are relatively high. Most wedding planners will even go so far as to say that you just shouldn't bother!

Wedding favours are a big part of Nigerian weddings. I can't tell you how many plastic bowls, customised napkins, mugs and hand fans my family has accumulated over the years. Even in a Nigerian kitchen, there are only so many bowls and containers you can collect before it all gets a bit much. 

Edible favours, however, are a great way to ensure your guests either take them home (because who can resist delicious food?) or eat them on the spot. You can get super fancy with the presentation (if you want) or keep things simple and pretty. Convinced yet?

Let's get into 12 sweet and savoury vegan wedding favour ideas that are sure to wow your guests. 


1. Chocolate 

Chocolate is the quintessential food of love. Go ahead and introduce your guests to your favourite vegan chocolate bar. If you can wow them with unique flavours, even better. For a low-cost but personal touch, you can print custom labels to wrap around the bars.

You might like: Moo Free Caramel Bars, LoveRaw Cream Wafer Bars, Ombar Fair Trade Chocolate

2. Hot Sauce

Why not make a batch of home-made hot sauce using your favourite combination of ingredients? Buy a bunch of low-cost glass jars, fill them up and pop some customised labels on the front. Not a fan of hot sauce? Go with another condiment that you fancy - BBQ sauce, green pesto, vegan mayonnaise, etc.

You might like: homemade ketchup recipe.


3. Mini Desserts

Treat your guests to something fancy. Desserts like mini macarons, tarts and cupcakes always look impressive. Vegan versions are easy to find nowadays, and most bakers are open to customising them. But if you're a keen baker, why not get some friends together a couple of days before the wedding and have a baking session? Pop them in little dessert boxes or cupcake cases for that stylish touch. 

You might like: coconut cupcakes, chocolate oreo cupcakes, mango macarons


4. Spice Jars

One of my favourite items on this list and a truly unique way to spoil your guests. Choose your favourite spices or create a signature spice blend, pop them in cute jars or pouches and add your own labels. 

You might like: 5 Nigerian Spices to Enhance Your Cooking.


5. Wedding Cake To-Go

This one is a no-brainer. If your wedding cake is large enough to feed all your guests, why not put the slices in small cake boxes and gift your guests with cake to go! Works particularly well if you are already providing dessert with the main meal. The wedding cake then makes for a great treat for later. Tie the boxes with ribbons in your wedding colour for an extra special touch. 

You might like: pack of 50 cake boxes.



6. Cookies

A simple yet effective wedding favour idea. If you like to bake, organise a cookie baking party and have your friends and family round to help you customise them. Package them in cellophane pouches and finish with ribbons in your wedding colour. No time to bake? These can easily be outsourced to your local vegan bakery. 

You might like: mango thumbprint cookies, garri cookies


7. Signature Drink (Alcoholic or Non-Alcoholic)

The drinks will no doubt be flowing on your special day, so this signature drink will need to stand out in the crowd. The beauty of making and bottling your own unique cocktail is that you can combine both your and your partner's favourite flavours to make something truly one-of-a-kind. This is your chance to go wild - ginger with pomegranate, cucumber and rum? Why not! Bottle them in beautiful 30-50ml glass jars and add your own labels.

You might like: mini glass jars with cork lids.


8. Tea

I attended a wedding a few years ago where guests were gifted customised tea sachets and I thought it was the cutest thing! Whether loose leaf tea in small jars, pouches or individual sachets, tea is a wonderful favour idea. Bonus: instead of tea, ground coffee beans work just as well.

You might like: 'Love' Organic Herbal Tea.


9. Popcorn

Sweet, salty or mixed - take your pick! Popcorn makes for a delicious wedding favour. You could opt for a popcorn machine to pump out fresh popcorn for your guests to take home at the end of the night, or you can present little packs of popcorn in your favourite flavours. 

You might like: vegan butterscotch gourmet popcorn.


10. Infused Oils

Not only are these beautiful to look at but this is a truly luxurious wedding favour that requires very little effort. If you want to make these yourself, simply choose a neutral oil such as sunflower or vegetable oil and infuse it with your favourite herbs and spices. From bay leaf to sage to whole chilli to rosemary, the options are endless. Also works great with olive oil for an even fancier version. 

You might like: Gourmet Spice Company Infused Oil Collection.


11. Plantain Chips 

One of my all time favourite snacks right here. It's rare to meet a soul who doesn't love plantain, so these are sure to go down a treat. You can easily find individually packaged plantain chips nowadays. You may choose to gift them as they are or repackage them in your own customised pouches. If you have a family member or friend who loves cooking and is up for the challenge, then homemade plantain chips are an option too - added bonus is that you can customise the flavour(s) as much as you want.

You might like: Chika's plantain chips, homemade plantain chips.


12. Puff Puff

Puff puff is a popular Nigerian snack that resembles little fried doughnuts. Give them an elevated, gourmet twist by infusing unique flavours into the batter (such as cardamon, rose water, lavender or almond) then present them in little boxes or pouches. Your guests will absolutely fall in love with this sweet treat.

You might like: pumpkin spice puff puff

Monday, 18 July 2022

3 Creative Hibiscus Recipes | Vegan, Gluten-Free


Hibiscus is a tropical plant with colourful red flowers that are often used for culinary and medicinal purposes. In Nigeria, the flowers are a key ingredient in zobo - a highly popular fruity and tangy punch. It is also used to make teas. It is said that hibiscus is beneficial in lowering blood pressure, reducing high high cholesterol and acting as an effective antioxidant.

I love using hibiscus in my cooking and am excited to explore tons of new and innovative recipes going forward. Beyond hibiscus tea and hibiscus punch, let's take a look at three creative ways to cook with hibiscus. 

1. Hibiscus Ogi

Ogi is a fermented corn porridge that is enjoyed across Nigeria. Why not add some colour and vibrancy to your next bowl of ogi by infusing it with hibiscus? Add some bite-size pieces of pineapple for a burst of freshness. The full recipe can be found here.


2. Hibiscus Poached Fruit

Poaching fresh fruit in a hibiscus syrup is a genius idea. Aesthetically very pleasing when the fruit takes on the deep red tone, but also lends a beautiful floral, tart note. The fruits I would recommend are apples, pears, pineapples, plums and peaches. In the recipe below, I made a vegan no-bake cheesecake topped with hibiscus poached apples. Click here for the full recipe and for the full poaching method that can be used for any type of fruit. 


3. Hibiscus Meat

Yes, you read that right. A couple of years ago, videos for hibiscus meat tacos were trending all over social media. Did you know that you can use rehydrated hibiscus flowers as a meat alternative? It makes sense. The rehydrated flowers have structural integrity and resemble shredded meat in terms of look and texture. The chewy morsels take on any flavour you pair it with so you'll need to cook the hibiscus in your sauce of choice for maximum flavour. Think bbq sauce and spicy tomato sauce. Look out for a recipe in a future post.