Thursday, 27 May 2021

5 Delicious Nigerian Swallows To Eat With Your Soup

If you're not Nigerian, you may be asking: what the heck is Nigerian swallow? Surely, you're not talking about the bird! Hold on to your hats. No. The popular term "swallow" refers to the starchy, dough-like accompaniment to many traditional soups and stews. It is made from a variety of ingredients, ranging from yam to cassava to plantain to corn to rice. As you can imagine, it is called "swallow" because you are meant to pinch a morsel of it, dip it in your stew or soup and well...swallow it. 

The traditional way of eating swallow is with a clean hand, but we modern folks tend to use forks. Eating it with your hand all take some getting used to if you're not familiar with this style. It's an art to be honest - the rolling of the swallow between your fingers, making a well to scoop the soup into, bringing it from plate to mouth without it dripping down your arm. You get the idea.

In this post, I will share 5 delicious swallows that you can make today. This is by no means an exhaustive list as there are still so many to try, but I hope this provides a good starting point for you! How many of these have you tried?

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1. Amala

We will be talking specifically about Amala Iyan which is made using yam flour. It is most commonly eaten amongst the Yoruba is western Nigeria. It is made by combining yam flour and water, and cooking until you have a thick, smooth, dough-like consistency. When cooked, amala turns a dark brown colour. The taste is very earthy. Although I didn't enjoy it as a kid, I have since grown to love it. 
Serve with: efo riro, ewedu or gbegiri. 


2. Eba

Also referred to as garri, this swallow is made from the aforementioned garri - dried, grated and fermented cassava. It has a coarse texture and is made simply by combining the garri with hot water until you have a soft dough-like consistency. 
Serve with: egusi, okra, efo riro and other traditional soups.


3. Plantain Fufu

As you can gather from the name, this swallow is made using plantain. You can indeed use plantain flour, but you can also make it fresh by blending green unripe plantain with water then cooking on low heat until you have a soft dough. This is usually considered a low-carb option for those who want to enjoy swallow but are unable to consume high amounts of carbohydrates.
Serve with: egusi, efo riro, garden egg stew and other traditional soups.


4. Pounded Yam

This one is my favourite! Fresh yam pounded to a sticky, soft dough. The stuff of dreams. The mild taste makes it the perfect canvas for a variety of stews and soups. If there's only one swallow you try on this list, it should be this one. The traditional way of pounding yam is in a giant mortar and pestle. These days, we use food processors to get the job done.
Eat with: egusiefo riro, ofe nsala and other traditional soups.


5. Cassava Fufu / Akpu

Made from the fermented paste of blended cassava. After blending, the paste is left to ferment for 5-7 days in order to eliminate the toxic compounds that are naturally found in uncooked cassava. It has a strong smell and a stretchy texture.
Serve with: egusiefo riro, ogbono and other traditional soups.

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Vegan Flake Chocolate Bar | Easy Recipe

Flake and Twirl chocolate bars used to be my jam back in the day and I've always prayed for a vegan version. 

When you go to the Cadbury website, here is what they say about how they achieve the unique crumbly flaky chocolate bar:

"The process for making Cadbury Flake is a closely guarded secret and no other chocolate manufacturer has ever managed to recreate it. That's why no other chocolate bar can rival the delicate, crumbly texture of a Cadbury Flake."

Enough to make you lose hope.

However, the other night I watched Ann Reardon's latest debunk video on her How To Cook That channel and she seemed to crack the secret for homemade flake! I knew I had to give it a try based on some of the insights she shared in her video. 

If like me you've always wondered how to make a homemade flake chocolate bar, I hope you enjoy this first attempt at the recipe. Let me know what you think, what you would do differently and if you'd like to see another updated attempt with more tweaks to get it just right!

With this attempt, here's what works:

1. Crumbly, flaky texture that melts in the mouth

2. Holds together relatively well, though room for improvement

Here's what I want to improve on:

1. Choice of chocolate. If you love dark chocolate, then this recipe is a-okay but I'd like to get the taste as close to the original as I remember it. For that, I plan to use a vegan 'milk' chocolate with a creamier taste, higher fat content and lighter colour

2. Adjust the amount of liquid (coconut milk) added so that the chocolate is a bit drier and flakier

3. Roll the chocolate out a bit thinner to create more flaky layers

If you try this recipe, be sure to share your success or failure with me on Instagram :)


Ingredients
(Makes 3-4 bars)

- 80g dark chocolate (I used Doisy & Dam Dark Chocolate Buttons)
- 1 tablespoon coconut milk

Method

1. Melt the dark chocolate in a microwave, stirring at 20-30 second intervals.

2. Add the coconut milk and keep mixing until the chocolate seizes i.e. gets thick and stiff.

3. Place the chocolate in between two pieces of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to roll out the chocolate as thinly as possible. Remove the top parchment paper and leave the chocolate to stand and dry out for 15 minutes. 

4. Use a stainless steel spatula or bench scraper to scrape the chocolate from one end to the other (do this is sections). Use two spatulas to gently shape and press the flakes pieces into a bar shape. Leave the bars to stand and dry out a bit more.


Thursday, 20 May 2021

Oven Baked Nigerian Moi Moi with Vegetables | Vegan and Gluten Free


I've already got a comprehensive post on this amazing protein-packed bean pudding that has found its way across different West African countries. In my original post (click here to view), I give you the step by step process of how to prepare moin moin from scratch, including peeling the beans, blending it and the various methods you can use to steam it (using ramekins or the more traditional Uma leaves). If you have time on a lazy weekend, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. For those with less time on their hands or those who cannot stand the long cooking process, it is actually possible to use shop-bought moin moin mix, such as this one

Whichever process you choose, this baked version is a fun take on this classic dish. It's perfect for sharing, saves you time and actually cooks a lot quicker than steaming.

If you're very familiar with moin moin, you'll know that it is sometimes filled with extra ingredients. For a delicious vegan take, I recommend mixed vegetables, or even seasoned tofu or jackfruit. You can be as experimental as you wish. If you want to break convention, you can even try your hands at green moin moin that has been infused with nutrient-rich leafy greens (click here for the recipe).

Enjoy this week's recipe video and if you do give it a try, be sure to tag me in your photos on Instagram!



Thursday, 13 May 2021

Joyful, Delicious, Vegan: Life Without Heart Disease

Enjoy this guest post by Sherra Aguirre, author of Joyful, Delicious, Vegan: Life Without Heart Disease.

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We can all learn how to enjoy good health naturally at any age, and it starts in our kitchens by changing what and how we eat. With a delicious plant-based diet we feed our health and not disease. This is the most effective way to prevent or reverse heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US.  Heart disease especially impacts African American women, who are on the front line of the fight against this killer and other chronic diet related illnesses.  

In Joyful, Delicious Vegan: Life Without Heart Disease I share my own story of reversing hypertension, based on current nutritional knowledge, and despite my family history. I was guided by the recommendations of two world-renowned cardiologists, who have demonstrated results with patients for many years. I show readers how to build a simple food plan around their particular needs with delicious anti-inflammatory foods, and how to develop the habit of mindful eating. There are powerful tips for success, encouragement, and staying power.   

Despite the growing body of nutritional research, the mainstream medical community has been slow to integrate this knowledge in patient treatment and education. Only recently has it been introduced into modern medical training, leaving many doctors and health care providers in the dark about its effectiveness – while only offering patients costly maintenance drugs and surgical procedures, none of which offer a cure.   


I want to get this message in the hands of as many people who can benefit from it as possible. I particularly want to empower those underserved by our healthcare system with the knowledge along with simple, affordable ways to prevent it, reverse it, and practice good self-care for themselves and their families. I also want to share the sheer joy of eating great healthy food, simple to make at home, that you love, and that loves you back! Whole plant-based eating is an adventure with endless possibilities to enjoy your favorite tastes and textures in healthier versions, and easily adapts to so many cultural food traditions.   

This change in diet is the most powerful thing we can do as individuals to save our environment by reducing methane pollution from factory animal farming, while promoting compassion for animals. I can’t imagine a more powerful opportunity to make one change that contributes to our own health, the health of animals and of Earth itself.

Sherra Aguirre is a health enthusiast and food justice advocate, passionate about empowering others (especially African American women and other communities who are at high risk for diabetes and heart disease), to maintain vibrancy and good health throughout their lifetimes. She improved her own overall heart health and eliminated symptoms of hypertension despite a significant family history of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure, by adopting a whole plant-based diet. 

Thursday, 6 May 2021

10 Vegan Nigerian Recipes You Must Try

Whether you're new to Nigerian cuisine or want to try your hands at vegan versions of your favourites, these are the top ten best vegan Nigerian recipes you need to try. 

Block out a weekend, stock up on ingredients, and get cooking! 

Simply click on each image to access the full recipe. 

If you like this post, be sure to share it with your friends.

1. Egusi Soup

Made using ground melon seeds, this spinach soup is a tasty classic with a rich flavour profile. Serve it with yam, fufu, pounded yam or even rice. Click here for the recipe.

2. Yam and 'Egg' 

Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Simply replace eggs with scrambled tofu and serve alongside a few slices of boiled yam. It's nutritious, still high in protein and incredibly filling. Click here for the recipe.

3. Jollof Rice

This list would be incomplete without this West African classic. Jollof Rice is a one-pot dish consisting of rice that has been steamed in an aromatic blend of peppers and tomatoes. If you make only one dish on this list, let it be this one. Click here for the recipe.

4. Beans and Plantain

A food pairing made in heaven. This high-protein meal is ideal for when you want something that's comforting and relatively simple to make. The beans do take a while to cook but the wait is well worth it. Click here for the recipe.

5. Red Stew (Obe Ata) 

The staple of every Nigerian meal plan is the classic red stew, made by blending red peppers, tomatoes and onion. Add in your preferred meat substitute for a delicious dish best served with rice, yam, plantain, potatoes, and more! Click here for the recipe.

6. Moin Moin 

Can best be described as a steamed bean pudding. Steam in banana leaves for maximum flavour or use ramekins if you don't have access to that. Click here for the recipe.

7. Yam Pottage

A simple one-pot dish that's so unbelievably comforting. If you've never cooked with yam before, this recipe is an accessible place to start. Click here for the recipe.

8. Suya Vegetables

Suya spice is normally used to coat chunks of roasted meat; a popular street food across Nigeria. Here we'll use chunky vegetables and mushrooms instead for a kick-ass vegan version. Click here for the recipe.

9. Nigerian Buns

For a delicious snack that tastes like a doughnut but takes less than half the time to make, have a go at this egg-free and dairy-free version of fried buns. Click here for the recipe.

10. Plantain Mosa

Beyond fried plantain, there's mosa. An excellent way to use up any overripe plantain you may have lying around your kitchen. Can be made sweet or savoury, depending on your mood. Click here for the recipe.


For more plantain recipes, check out my Plantain Cookbook.

For more regular food inspiration, be sure to follow on Instagram.

Monday, 3 May 2021

Vegan Nigerian 'Egg' Stew ('Egg' Sauce)

This recipe was recently requested by a reader of the blog. Although I was never really a fan of egg stew (or egg sauce) back in the day, I know that it's a common breakfast dish in many Nigerian households. It is often eaten for breakfast, with a side of boiled yam, agege bread or fried plantain. But to be honest, it can be eaten at any time of the day, so feel free to whip it up for a light lunch or dinner. It's one of the easiest things you can make and I hope you give it a try! If you do, be sure to share your pics with me on Instagram @vegannigerian.

In this vegan version, we're going to be using firm tofu to replace the eggs. We're also going to be making a slightly healthier version by making it oil-free.

If you like this recipe, you will also like my recipe for yam and scrambled tofu.

Ingredients

(serves 2)

- 3 large cooking spoons of red stew mix (thick blend of red pepper, tomatoes, chillies and onion) 

- 1 red onion, chopped

- 1 red bell pepper, chopped

- 1 green bell pepper, chopped

- 200g firm tofu, drained

- salt to taste

- 1/2 tsp curry powder

- 1/2 tsp dried thyme

Method

1. Pour the red stew mix into a non-stick frying pan or saucepan. Cook on high heat for one minute then add the chopped red onion and peppers. Cover and allow to simmer on medium-low heat for three minutes until the vegetables soften slightly.

2. Add the block of firm tofu and break it down to a 'scramble'. Stir to combine and season with salt, curry powder and thyme. Cover and allow to simmer for another five minutes.

3. Serve hot with some freshly cooked yam or a slice of bread or a helping of fried plantain.