Friday 23 February 2024

Red Palm Oil Bread


I recently made some wholewheat bread and instead of my usual addition of sunflower oil, I decided to try using palm oil. 

Red palm oil is a key staple ingredient in Nigerian cuisine, made by local farmers in west Africa and used for generations by home cooks  in dishes like stews and soups. Used in moderation, it gives many of our dishes their iconic look and taste. You can’t really venture into traditional Nigerian cooking without coming into contact with it. It’s high in vitamin A and rich in antioxidants. Don’t mistake it for the unsustainable and ultra processed palm oil from other parts of the world. 

The result of this baking experiment was a vibrant golden loaf  with the subtle earthy flavour of red oil that I love so much. It was perfect with a plate of beans and imagine how good it would be with some stew. 

If you give it a try, share your creation with me over on Instagram.

Ingredients


250ml warm water

2 tbsp red palm oil 

2 tbsp light brown sugar

7g instant yeast 

1 tsp salt

200g strong bread flour 

200g wholewheat flour


Method


1. Combine all the ingredients in a stand mixer (dough hook) and knead for 5 minutes on low, then another 5 minutes on medium. 


2. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for 1 hour 30 minutes. 



3. Knock out the air bubbles, shape the dough into a log and place into a lightly greased loaf tin. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes or until the dough rises above the tin. 


4. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 30 minutes. Leave to cool completely before slicing. 


Tuesday 20 February 2024

Ose Oji - Igbo Spiced Peanut Butter (Okwa Ose)

One of the great things about being married to someone from a different part of Nigeria is learning about new food combos and meals that I didn’t grow up eating. My latest discovery is this spiced peanut butter and garden egg situation, an Igbo delicacy that is often served to guests at parties. 

This hearty Igbo dish of spiced peanut butter paired with crunchy garden eggs is a staple at big family gatherings, weddings, and any occasion where good vibes are a must. In this post, we'll delve into the origins, significance, preparation, and serving traditions of Ose Oji, inviting you to appreciate why it's more than just food for the Igbo people of Nigeria. 


Origins and Cultural Significance

Peanuts (groundnuts), introduced to West Africa by Portuguese explorers during the 16th century, quickly became a staple crop. The Igbo, located in the eastern region of Nigeria, crafted this dish, blending the rich, creamy texture of peanuts with the spicy zest of local spices and the unique taste of garden eggs (African eggplants).

Ose oji is traditionally served to guests at significant events such as weddings, funerals, and title-taking ceremonies, a cultural symbol of hospitality and goodwill.

Ingredients and Preparation

The preparation of Ose Oji is an art form, requiring precision and patience. The primary ingredient is peanuts, roasted to perfection, which forms the base of this savoury spread. The peanuts are then blended with a mix of traditional spices, including ehuru (African nutmeg).

The spiciness comes from the addition of fresh or dried pepper, which can be adjusted to your desired heat level. The blend is ground into a smooth paste, sometimes with the addition of a little oil to achieve the perfect consistency. Although the paste is traditionally made by pounding the peanuts in a large mortar and pestle, modern chefs can make use of food processors to achieve the smooth peanut butter.

Ingredients

450g roasted peanuts
1 tbsp ground chilli pepper
2 tsp ground ehuru (African calabash nutmeg)
1 vegetable stock cube

Method

1. Combine the roasted peanuts, chilli pepper, ground ehuru and vegetable stock cube in a food processor and blend until the mixture becomes smooth and the peanut has released its oil.

2. Serve with a handful of fresh garden eggs (or Thai eggplant).

The peanut butter can be stored in an airtight jar or container and keep refrigerated. 


Serving Traditions

Ose Oji is traditionally served with garden eggs, which offer a fresh, crisp, slightly bitter counterpoint to the creamy richness of the peanut butter. The garden eggs are either raw or slightly blanched, sliced or left whole.

Beyond garden eggs, Ose Oji can also be served alongside kola nut, boiled yams, or even bread, making it a versatile dip.

Nutritional Value

Aside from its cultural significance, Ose Oji is nutritionally rich. Peanuts are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and vitamins such as B vitamins and vitamin E. Garden eggs are low in calories but high in fiber, making them an excellent addition to a balanced diet. This dish is a healthful blend of nutrients, offering a delicious way to enjoy traditional Nigerian flavors while maintaining a nutritious diet.


Ose Oji is more than just a dish; it's a celebration of Igbo culture, tradition, and hospitality. Whether served at a grand occasion or enjoyed as a simple snack, it offers a window into the rich culinary heritage of the Igbo people.

Wednesday 14 February 2024

Cabin Biscuit Cheesecake | Dairy Free and Refined Sugar Free

Cabin Biscuits - a staple snack that filled the pantries of many Nigerian households, including mine when I was growing up. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a packet of these iconic biscuits in my local African grocery store here in the UK. Eagerly, I brought them home, anticipation building  as I opened it. Yet, as I took my first bite, that sweet anticipation gave way to a pang of disappointment. The biscuits, perhaps over baked, were drier than I remembered, lacking the gentle crunch and subtle sweetness that I remembered.

In an effort to turn things around, I decided to repurpose the biscuits into a dessert. A vegan baked tofu cheesecake was just the answer. A crunchy base made with the biscuits, a creamy baked tofu filling, sweetened naturally to ensure it’s both dairy-free and refined sugar-free. I topped my cheesecake with some frozen berries (warmed up in the microwave for 30 seconds so that they became saucy). Feel free to get experimental with your toppings. The cheesecake filling is intentionally neutral (well, vanilla flavoured) so that it's a great canvas for any bright, flavourful topping. Why not drizzle over some melted chocolate or salted caramel sauce?

It goes without saying that you can make this recipe using any other type of biscuit for the base - Digestives work particularly well. 

You can also choose to use a different sweetener such as agave syrup, dates or coconut sugar.

I made a small cheesecake in a 4 inch spring form tin, so if you want a larger cheesecake, you'll need to double or triple the quantities.

I hope you give this recipe a try. You can watch the full recipe video (Reel) and share your creations with me over on Instagram!
 




Ingredients 
(Serves 4)

For the crust:
45g cabin biscuits 
40g vegan butter, melted
dash of maple syrup

For the filling:
100g tofu
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp soy milk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp plain protein powder (optional)

For the topping:
50g mixed frozen berries
1 tbsp maple syrup


Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 

2. Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin or in a food processor until you have fine crumbs. In a bowl, mix the crumbs, melted vegan butter and a dash of maple syrup. Line a round 4 inch spring form tin with baking paper and pour the mixture into the base of the tin. Use the bottom of a small glass cup to press the crumbs down until even and compact. Set aside.

3. To make the filling, add all the ingredients to a small blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour the mixture onto the biscuit base and tap/shake the tin against the countertop to remove any large air bubbles.

4. Bake in the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes until the outer edges of the cheesecake are firm to the touch. Leave to cool completely before taking out of the tin and removing the baking paper.

5. For the topping, place the frozen berries and maple syrup in a bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds. This should keep the berries mostly whole but also create a delicious pool of juice. Spoon this over the cheesecake and serve. Enjoy!

Monday 5 February 2024

Vegan Nigerian Food and Health Benefits

In recent years, we've seen a significant surge in interest and adoption of veganism across the globe. While the concept of a plant-based diet isn't exactly new, its popularity has soared, even in regions with deep-rooted culinary traditions like Nigeria. Vegan Nigerian food offers a distinctive blend of flavours, textures, and aromas that can tempt even the most sceptical taste buds. But there's more to it than just good food. A growing body of evidence suggests that a vegan diet can have profound health benefits. Let's explore how vegan Nigerian cuisine can positively impact health, from reducing the risk of chronic diseases to aiding in weight management and enhancing overall well-being.

Examples of Plant-Based Foods:

  • Fruits: Mangoes, papayas, pineapples, guavas, bananas, etc.
  • Vegetables: Okra, bitter leaf, ugu (pumpkin leaves), waterleaf, ewedu (jute leaves), etc.
  • Legumes: Black-eyed peas, cowpeas, groundnuts (peanuts), Bambara nuts, etc.
  • Whole grains: Millet, rice, sorghum, fonio, teff, whole maize, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds: Tigernuts, melon seeds (egusi), locust beans, sesame seeds, etc.
  • Plant-based proteins: Soybeans, beans, tofu (from soybeans), tempeh, etc.
  • Plant-based dairy alternatives: Tigernut milk, coconut milk, soy milk, etc.
  • Plant-based fats: avocado, palm oil, coconut oil, etc.
  • Plant-based sweeteners: Date syrup, whole dates, coconut sugar, etc.

Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet:

1. Nutrient-rich: Nigerian vegan diets are abundant in essential nutrients, with dishes like vegetable soup using tomatoes, onions and peppers, and incorporating leafy greens such as ugu and waterleaf - all rich in vitamins and minerals.


2. Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases: Traditional dishes like vegetable stews with okra and bitter leaf, or bean-based dishes like Ewa, can help lower the risk of chronic diseases due to their low saturated fat and high nutrient content.


3. Heart Health: Foods like fonio and millet in porridges or as side dishes, and legumes in stews, contribute to lower levels of bad cholesterol and a healthier heart.


4. Weight Management: High-fibre dishes like beans and vegetable soups, and whole grains like teff and sorghum, are filling yet lower in calories, aiding in weight management.


5. Digestive Health: The high fibre in legumes, whole grains, and vegetables like ewedu and waterleaf supports a healthy digestive system and can help prevent digestive disorders.


6. Improved Blood Sugar Control: Whole grains and legumes common in Nigerian cuisine, like black-eyed peas, help regulate blood sugar levels and are beneficial for diabetes management.


7. Lower Inflammation: The natural anti-inflammatory properties found in many fruits, vegetables, and spices used in Nigerian vegan cooking, like turmeric and ginger, can help reduce inflammation.


8. Improved Cholesterol Levels: Plant-based Nigerian diets are often low in harmful fats, with ingredients like nuts and seeds helping maintain healthier cholesterol levels.


9. Weight Management: The naturally lower calorie content of many Nigerian plant-based dishes, combined with their high fibre content, assists in maintaining a healthy weight.


10. Promotes Digestive Health: The fibre-rich nature of Nigerian plant-based meals, including dishes like vegetable soups and bean stews, supports a robust digestive system.


Exploring vegan Nigerian cuisine doesn't just open up a world of delicious plant-based dishes; it also offers numerous health benefits. Adopting a plant-based diet can lead to positive changes in overall well-being. Rich in essential nutrients, fibre, and antioxidants, vegan Nigerian food promotes heart health, weight management, and improved digestion. Moreover, it's associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers. Embracing this cuisine could be your gateway to a healthier lifestyle.


Friday 26 January 2024

10 Vegan Nigerian Party Food Ideas

Hey there :) In today's blog post we're spicing things up with some incredible vegan Nigerian party food ideas!

If you're on the hunt for vegan party recipes, you've landed in the perfect spot. Nigerian cuisine offers a treasure trove of options. This post is dedicated to those looking to diversify their vegan menu with dishes that are not only delicious but also steeped in tradition. Whether you're planning a vegan wedding, birthday party, or just a casual get-together, these vegan Nigerian recipes are sure to impress your guests and excite their taste buds.

From the classics like Jollof Rice to innovative twists on traditional dishes, I have curated a list of vegan-friendly party foods that celebrate the essence of Nigerian flavours. Let's make your next party a hit with these options:

1. Jollof Rice: A staple in West African cuisine, Jollof Rice can be easily veganised. By substituting beef or chicken stock with a vegetable stock and spices, this dish becomes an ideal vegan treat for any Nigerian event. It's a one pot dish that can easily be made in large quantities. Always a crowd pleaser.



2. Plantain Skewers: Thinly sliced plantains, either ripe or unripe, are deep-fried or baked until they achieve a crispy texture. These chips are a healthier alternative to traditional snacks and can be seasoned with salt, pepper, or other spices. They are an excellent vegan finger food option for guests to nibble on throughout the event.

3. Puff Puff: Similar to a doughnut, Puff Puff is a sweet, fluffy, deep-fried snack. It is a favourite among children and adults at Nigerian celebrations.

4. Vegan Abacha (African Salad): Abacha, also known as African salad, typically includes dried fish, crayfish, and stockfish. Creating a vegan version involves substituting these with plant-based proteins, transforming it into a delicious vegan dish ideal for social gatherings.

5. Akara (Bean Fritters): Akara is a popular Nigerian snack made from blended black-eyed peas, onions, and spices, deep-fried until crispy and golden. This protein-rich delicacy is naturally vegan and makes for a perfect appetiser or side dish at parties. Serve it with a spicy dipping sauce or alongside a fresh salad for added flavour.

6. Moin Moin: This steamed bean cake, traditionally made with ground beans, onions, peppers, and spices, is a party essential in Nigeria. A vegan version of Moin Moin excludes animal-based items like eggs, fish, crayfish, or meat, making it a savoury plant-based delight.


7. Vegan Suya: Suya, a popular Nigerian street food and party food, typically features skewered and grilled meat coated in a spicy peanut mixture. The vegan version uses chunks of marinated vegetables, tofu, seitan or tempeh, threaded onto skewers and grilled or roasted. The key to its flavour lies in the suya spice mix, made from ground peanuts, paprika, ginger, and other spices, offering a truly unique taste.

8. Chin Chin: This is a crunchy, sweet snack made from flour, sugar, and margarine. For a vegan version, ensure the margarine is plant-based and leave out the eggs. Chin chin can be flavoured with nutmeg or vanilla and is a delightful treat that guests can munch on at any time during the party.

9. Vegan Asun: Asun is typically a spicy, grilled goat meat dish, but the vegan version uses large chunks of mushrooms, marinated in a spicy pepper sauce and grilled to perfection. This dish provides the smoky, spicy flavour of traditional Asun while being completely plant-based.

10. Coconut Fried Rice: This is a fragrant dish made by cooking rice with coconut milk and spices like thyme and bay leaves. Adding diced vegetables like carrots, peas, and sweet corn not only enhances its nutritional value but also adds colour and texture to the dish, making it a visually appealing and delicious vegan party food option.



By offering these vegan alternatives at Nigerian parties, hosts can ensure inclusivity and a memorable culinary experience for all guests, regardless of their dietary preferences. Enjoy celebrating with these delicious party food choices!


For more traditional Nigerian recipes with a vegan twist, check out my cookbook Vegan Nigerian Kitchen.

Thursday 18 January 2024

Nigerian Buns - Easy Egg Free Recipe

Nigerian Buns are the go-to snack for anyone craving something sweet, simple, and satisfying. These little fried dough balls are like puff puff’s crunchier cousins. They have this amazing crispy outside and a soft, dense middle that’s just right for a quick snack fix. 

Made with everyday ingredients like flour, sugar and a bit of baking powder, Nigerian Buns are then fried until they turn a lovely golden brown. They’re a common sight at parties and street food stalls, often with a sprinkle of nutmeg or a dash of vanilla to give them that extra bit of flavour. 

Whether you’re hanging out with friends or need something to munch on the go, these buns are a taste of Nigerian comfort food that's hard to resist. Give them a try, and you’ll see why they're a snack-time favourite for so many!

Discover more delicious recipes in my cookbook Vegan Nigerian Kitchen


Ingredients

(Makes 15)


2 cups self-raising flour (or mix 2 cups plain flour with 2 level teaspoons baking powder)

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons caster sugar

1 and 1/4 cups plant-based milk (such as soya milk)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

2 cups sunflower oil for deep-frying


Method


1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar and milk until you have a thick, sticky batter.

 

2. Heat the sunflower oil in a small, deep frying pan or saucepan until it starts to sizzle. Use one tablespoon to scoop the batter and another tablespoon to push/drop the batter into the oil. You can fry multiple buns at a time but be careful not to overcrowd the pan. 

 

3. Fry the buns for a few minutes on medium-high heat until they are golden brown all over. They will float to the top of the oil and you may need to move them around to brown evenly. 

 

4. Use a slotted spoon to take them out of the oil and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper or napkins. Serve warm or cold. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.