Thursday, 30 June 2022

Top 5 African Yam Recipes

Yam is native to Africa and Nigeria happens to be the largest producer in the world, responsible for over 75% of total production. The tubers can range from small to very large in size. In the U.S. sweet potatoes are often mislabelled as yam, so just a heads up that we are not discussing sweet potatoes here. Yams have a dark brown skin and pale interior; in terms of taste, the flavour is more neutral and delicate. 


Yam is similar to white potato in terms of the way it is cooked - there are so many exciting ways to enjoy it! Whether boiled, roasted, fried or pounded. Check out my top five yam recipes below for inspiration. Some of the recipes can be found here on the blog, and some are exclusive to my cookbook Vegan Nigerian Kitchen




Top 5 African Yam Recipes

1. Asaro | Yam Porridge

Also known as yam pottage. This one-pot dish that consists of yam cooked in a delicious blend of peppers and tomatoes. It's a comfort meal through and through. Any variety of yam will do, but I highly recommend opting for puna yam. 


2. Boiled Yam and Vegan 'Egg' Sauce

A popular breakfast option across Nigeria. The yam is boiled until soft and fluffy and served alongside a scrambled egg sauce. In this creative vegan version, scrambled tofu is used in stead of eggs. Don't skimp out on adding an abundance of veggies, and don't forget to season your scramble! 


3. Pounded Yam

Also known as Iyan in the Yoruba language, pounded yam is a popular swallow in Nigeria. It is made by pounding boiled yam until you have a smooth and stretchy dough. The traditional way of making pounded yam involves a giant mortar and pestle but these days, a food processor or pounded yam maker will do. It is now even possible to buy pounded yam flour from African shops if you want to save time and energy. Serve it alongside a delicious soup or stew such as egusi or efo riro


4. Yamarita

This fried yam snack is normally coated in an egg mixture but you can make a tasty vegan version using non-dairy milk to create the spicy batter that will coat the yam pieces. The yam is boiled first to ensure a soft and fluffy interior to complement the crispy coating.


5. Yam Pepper Soup

A variation of the delicious Pepper Soup, this particular style is popular amongst the Igbo and is often made for new mums because of its nourishing and medicinal properties. Instead of sourcing the individual spices that go into making this dish, it is now possible to buy pepper soup mixes online and in stores. Don't forget to add uziza seeds and utazi leaves to get the signature taste! 



Want to learn more about traditional Nigerian cuisine? Get your copy of Vegan Nigerian Kitchen, which features tons of knowledge on ingredients and recipes you'll absolutely love.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

7 Classic Nigerian Drinks You Need To Try

Looking to try your hands at some classic Nigerian drinks? Look no further. Many on the list below are traditional and homemade, featuring fresh ingredients that are packed with health-boosting nutrients. In this modern era, many of the more traditional drinks have been commercialised and can now be bought in bottles from supermarkets and specialist websites. As with many things though, nothing beats the one you make by hand.

All can be served cold as a refreshing summer beverage. The 'milks' can be warmed up for a cosy winter/autumn drink. The Ginger Drink and Zobo can even be served hot as tea. 

Why wait until you visit Nigeria to try these drinks? Full recipes can be found in my cookbook Vegan Nigerian Kitchen.


1. Chapman Cocktail

This bright orange drink is said to have originated from the exclusive Ikoyi Club in Lagos. A combination of popular soft drinks, blackcurrant and copious amounts of freshly sliced fruits make Chapman a refreshing, flavourful and perfect drink for a hot, sunny day. 



2. Fura Da Nono (Millet Milk)

This unique beverage hails from the northern part of Nigeria. There are two main elements to this drink - the fura balls and the milk. The fura balls are made from spiced millet flour. To keep this vegan, you will need any plant-based milk alternative such as soya milk or oat milk. The drink is made by dissolving one of the balls in a cup or bowl of chilled milk. 



3. Ginger Drink

This fresh, immune-boosting drink is common amongst the Hausa people of northern Nigeria. It is sometimes called Hausa beer and is served at special occasions such as weddings and birthday parties. Can you guess the other key ingredient that gives this drink its bright yellow colour?


4. Kunun Aya (Tigernut Milk)

A creamy drink with a sweet, spicy, slightly nutty taste. It is consumed mainly in northern Nigeria, a popular drink amongst the Hausa and Fulani. There are strong similarities between this drink and the Spanish drink Horchata de Chufa. If you are unable to buy tiger nuts locally, you can easily find it online. When working with dried tiger nuts, it is a good idea to soak them for 8 hours or overnight to rehydrate before making this drink. Because tiger nuts are naturally sweet, you may choose to leave out the dates. 



5. Palm Wine

This traditional beverage, which is most popular in the southern parts of Nigeria, is produced from the sap of the palm tree (most commonly date palm or coconut palm tree) which is extracted by a palm wine tapper. The white sap is taken from the cut flower of the tree and is thick, sweet and non-alcoholic before it undergoes fermentation. The fermentation process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, yielding a highly aromatic wine that is mildly intoxicating. 



6. Tsamiya (Tamarind Juice)

Another delicious drink from the northern part of Nigeria, this beverage is easy to make and requires fresh, seasonal ingredients. It has a slightly sweet and sour taste, which can be enhanced with other flavours such as ginger, vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg.



7. Zobo (Hibiscus Punch)

A popular drink from the northern part of Nigeria but beloved across the whole country. This drink, which is sometimes called Zoborodo, is a spicy and aromatic fruit punch that’s loaded with tons of health benefits. Hibiscus leaves have wonderful floral notes, and the signature deep red colour of the drink is mighty appealing.



Which drink are you curious to try first? Find all the recipes for these and more in my cookbook Vegan Nigerian Kitchen.

Friday, 24 June 2022

Vegan Kiwi Upside-Down Cake


In an attempt to use up some abandoned kiwi in my kitchen and bake a sweet treat for the weekend, I made this incredible kiwi cake. It looks a bit trippy, I won't lie, with the kiwi rounds resembling alien eyes or some other extraterrestrial entity. But the cake was delicious - perfectly sweet, with a fresh tang from the kiwi, and and oh so fluffy crumb texture.

This vegan version uses soya milk and sunflower oil instead of butter and eggs. The vanilla gives it a wonderful aroma and flavour. Here I've used self-raising flour, which, for my American friends, is equivalent to all purpose flour mixed with baking powder. 

If you end up making this, share a picture on Instagram and tag me @vegannigerian - I'd love to see!


Ingredients

2 cups self-raising flour

Pinch of salt

1 cup caster sugar

1 cup plant-based milk (such as soya milk)

1/2 cup sunflower oil

1 tsp vanilla essence

3-4 kiwis (peeled and sliced into thin rounds)


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Combine the flour, salt, sugar, plant-based milk, sunflower oil and vanilla essence in a large mixing bowl. Gently mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until you have a smooth cake batter. Do not stir/whisk for too long or you may end up with a dense or gummy cake texture.

3. Lightly grease a 20 cm round cake tin with a little oil and line the bottom with a circle of baking paper. Arrange the sliced kiwi across the bottom of the pan and pour the cake batter over the top. Use a spatula to smooth the top.

4. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the pan before taking it out and serving. 


Wednesday, 22 June 2022

5 West African Fruits You Need To Try


Nigeria (and the whole of West Africa) is blessed with an abundance of unique and highly nutritious fruits. If you want to expand your culinary repertoire and try something new, this list is a great starting point. To continue boosting your knowledge of Nigerian ingredients, grab a copy of my cookbook Vegan Nigerian Kitchen.

1. Agbalumo (Yoruba) | Udara (Igbo) | African Star Apple | African Cherry 

This popular Nigerian fruit has a bright orange exterior and a fibrous, gummy interior that can be either milky orange or deep red-orange. They contain hard, dark seeds that are surrounded by a pulp which many like to suck off and chew. In fact, chew the flesh and skin long enough and you get a sort of chewing gum from it. In terms of taste, it can be sweet, sour or both. They are packed with antioxidants which neutralise free radicals, and contain a high amount of vitamin C. They are usually in season between November and March, and can be found piled high at local markets and fruit stalls.



2. 
Baobab

Cultivated and used mainly in the northern parts of Nigeria, the fruit, seeds and leaves of the baobab tree are known for their highly nutritional qualities. The fruit contains one of the highest amounts of antioxidants than any other fruit and are packed with vitamin C, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Dried and ground baobab can be sprinkled into smoothies, porridges and other foods to provide a nutritional kick. 


3. Guava

A sweet, fragrant fruit that is light yellow or pale pink when ripe and which contains several edible seeds. It is often eaten as a snack as it is, or can be added to fruit salads. They are a great source of vitamins A and C, potassium and folate. 



4. Rose Apple | Nigerian Apple

This fruit is not like the common apple you may be familiar with. They are closer to guava in terms of texture. They have a reddish pink exterior and a pale cream flesh. They are often eaten as they are, and the seeds are to be discarded. They contain B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, potassium and calcium.



5. Ube | African Plum | Elemi (Yoruba) | Eben (Efik)

Not to be mistaken for purple yam (which also goes by this name), this oblong fruit has a dark purple exterior and pale green interior, with a large seed in the centre. It is indigenous to Nigeria and many other West African countries. It is often eaten as a snack alongside roasted corn. The fruit is either boiled, blanched or roasted, producing a buttery soft flesh when cooked, and this is why it is sometimes referred to as butter pear.




Plantain Fufu

 

It's pretty obvious how much I love plantain at this point (see my whole cookbook dedicated to plantain!)

So the fact that plantain fufu is a thing just warms my heart. A couple of years ago I hosted an online cooking workshop and taught the group how to make plantain fufu with efo riro. Everyone agreed that it was a delicious pairing. 

This West African dish (often classed as a 'swallow') is made from green plantains and is considered a lighter alternative to traditional cassava fufu. The high starch content of the unripe plantain means that the fufu has a mild flavour, with a subtle hint of sweetness that pairs well with savoury stews. The starchiness also helps the fufu to thicken effectively, whereas ripe plantain will leave you with a mushy, paste-like consistency. 

The beauty of plantain fufu is that it takes hardly any time at all to make. The two step process includes the blending of the plantain and water, then the stirring of the mixture over low-medium heat. Within 5-6 minutes, your plantain fufu is ready to be served. 

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

- 2 green/unripe plantains

- 2 cups warm water


Method

1. Peel and chop the plantain into small bite-size pieces. Place in a blender with the water and blend until smooth.

2. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan over low-medium heat and stir continuously until the fufu thickens and turns into a sticky, stretchy dough. It is important to stir continuously in order to prevent lumps from forming. The fufu will take on a translucent hue.

3. Shape into mounds and serve alongside a soup or stew of your choice such as efo riro or egusi

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Fonio (Acha) - Ancient African Grain with Tons of Nutrients

Native to West Africa and considered the oldest cereal in Africa, fonio is a little-known gluten-free grain (technically a seed, though it is often classed and used as a grain) that resembles quinoa and couscous. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Hungry Rice’ and has a mild nutty taste. The cereal is so tiny that it only takes 3 minutes to cook. 

It is cultivated in the central region of Nigeria, particularly in Plateau and Bauchi states. There are two main species - black fonio and white fonio. 

Fonio is protein-rich, high in fibre, a great source of iron, zinc, phosphorous and calcium. It also contains a range of essential amino acids and will provide you with vitamins b1 and b3. It has a low glycemic index, making it an excellent alternative to white rice. 

It can be cooked plain like rice, ground into a flour for baking and to make swallow, or added to stir fries and salads. In Plateau state and other parts of northern Nigeria, it is the main ingredient in the preparation of the traditional delicacy, Gwate Acha (fonio porridge). 

Gwate Acha

Gwate Acha: this savoury porridge is a mix of fonio and highly nutritious vegetables. It also goes by other names such as Pete Acha, Gote, Gwete and Tere. You can find the full recipe in my cookbook Vegan Nigerian Kitchen.


Wondering where to buy fonio? You can find it online or in health stores such as Planet Organic.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Vegan Vanilla Custard Tart


Hands up if you're a fan of custard tarts!

This vegan version is sure to put a smile on your face. The filling is silky, creamy and indulgent. The pastry is delicate and golden. For the best results, leave the tart to chill in the fridge overnight as this will allow the filling to firm up nicely and hold its shape when sliced.

Note: for a soy-free alternative, you can replace the silken tofu with coconut cream.

Ingredients

(Serves 8-10)

For the crust

- 1 and 1/2 cups plain flour

- 1/3 cup vegan margarine

- 4 tbsp granulated or caster sugar

- 1-2 tbsp cold water

For the custard filling

- 1 cup (approx. 300g) silken tofu

- 1 cup dairy-free milk (such as soya, oat or rice milk)

- 4 heap tbsp corn flour

- 2 tbsp vegan margarine

- 4 tbsp caster sugar

- 1 tbsp vanilla extract

- 1/4 tsp turmeric

- 1/4 tsp kala namak (black salt)

To garnish

- ground nutmeg


Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

To make the pastry crust, use your hand to mix the flour, margarine and sugar together until it forms a soft dough. If it is too crumbly, add a little bit of water (half a tablespoon at a time) until it comes together.

On a clean, floured surface, roll the dough out into a thin circle (about 1/4 inch). Transfer to a 9 inch tart tin and gently push the pastry down into the corners and sides to form a crust. Use a fork to prick the base of the pastry multiple times, to allow air to escape while baking. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden. Set the crust aside and leave to cool in the tin for at least 30 minutes.

To prepare the custard filling, place the silken tofu, dairy-free milk, corn flour, margarine and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a non-stick saucepan and add the vanilla extract, turmeric and black salt. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and stir continuously (to prevent lumps from forming) for 10-15 minutes until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Take off the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Pour the custard into the crust and chill in the fridge for 4-5 hours. The custard should set further during this time.

Dust the chilled custard tart with a generous amount of ground nutmeg. Enjoy!

Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Monday, 7 March 2022

Malt Jollof Rice


Let’s get experimental! Malt drinks are popular across Nigeria, often paired with savoury meals  such as Jollof rice, moin moin and more. Attend any Nigerian party or large gathering and malt is highly likely to be served there. 

Here we have the classic Jollof but with more intensity and richness thanks to a concentrated broth of malt and blended pepper. Words cannot describe how delicious it is, so I hope you try it for yourself and see! 

Ingredients 

1/2 red onion, sliced into rounds 

4 tbsp oil 

1 red bell pepper 

2 medium tomatoes 

1 scotch bonnet 

1/2 cup water 

1 cup malt drink 

4 tightly packed cups parboiled (pre-cooked) rice 

1 tbsp dried thyme 

1 tbsp curry powder 

Salt to taste 


Method 

1. Slice the red onions into thin rings and set aside. 

2. Blend pepper, tomatoes and scotch bonnet with half a cup water until smooth. 

3. Heat the oil in a pot, add the blended mixture and malt drink. Add the thyme, curry and salt. Cook over high heat, partially covered, for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. 

4. Add the rice, mix well and lay the sliced red onions on top. Cover and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes. Mix well towards the end of the cooking time to combine all the ingredients. 

5. Serve hot with sides of your choice such as plantain, salad and mushrooms (see next post for my malt battered mushroom recipe!)