Every time someone called me these past 3 days and I said I was in the village (my husband’s hometown) what would follow would be a moment of silence then long bouts of laughter. In fact three people actually said “I wasn’t expecting that….” before they let out deep belly laughs.
Incidentally I find that really amusing that no one can actually see me in the village since I grew up going to the village every Easter and Christmas consistently at least for the first 15 years of my life and I’m very fluent in my dialect. It was just a given. There was no argument. You just knew Christmas AND Easter you were village bound. No one asked your opinion, no negotiations were made… it just was.
To be honest I probably enjoyed it the first couple of years but obviously at some point I outgrew it and prayed for every opportunity to stay back in Lagos…. and I loved it. What can I say?! I’m obviously a
In fact when I was about to get married. I told my husband one of the reasons why I always considered Ibo men a no-go area. Once it’s December they are in village mode. If you are one of the lucky ones you get to hop on a plane or it’s chisco or The Young for you.
Me sha I had decided I was having none of that until God sent me the man of my dreams all wrapped up in some good strong ibo hotness
But this year we just felt it was time for the kids to go home. I remember the best part of going to the village was my grandparents. I especially loved seeing my maternal grandmother. She always told us stories, taught us songs, it was always an exciting experience. So I felt it would be a great time for them ….and boy was I right.
They had a blast. Walking their grandma’s dogs, feeding her chickens and chasing her goats
They got to spend time with their grandparents (David was half asleep in this picture though)
Unfortunately we didn’t get to stay for Christmas but it got me thinking. What if we did an African themed Christmas especially with our food. Aren’t we tired of the usual – rice and chicken. I’m just thinking maybe something different for Christmas? So Chef Kemi Shittu and I teamed up to make sure you can pull it off.
Kemi over to you …
Christmas is literally here…
Whoop! Can’t keep calm! 💃🏾💃🏾🎄🎄
I’m sure we have our trees up and decorations in order.. (Finally decorated my tree and it’s so pretty 😍), gonna post a pic up on IG.. make show to look out for it on @justusgirlnaija… and still waiting for everyone to send a picture or tag us 😁..
Next thing on your mind is probably what to cook for Christmas.. some of you may be having guests/family over and really wanna show your skills in the kitchen, and have people licking their plates unashamed 😌.. I know that feeling
See we gat you!
Doesn’t this just look lovely 😍
Iwo/Ehuru (10) (that’s what gives the pepper soup aroma)
Urheri /Uda (2) (you take out the seed and discard)
Umilo/Ulima (2 )
Ataiko/Atariko 1/2 tsb (this looks similar to irugeje)
Irugeje (21/2 tsb)
Lemon grass/scent leave (optional)
(You can use already blended pepper soup spice, like the one below)
•Crack open the Umilo, Gbafilo and Iwo, blend the contents alongside ataiko and irugeje. I also add a bit of ground crayfish so that it blends easily (dry blending).
•Add your ground spices- pepper, ataiko, irugeje, iwo, umilo, gbafilo, crayfish and de-seeded Urheri into the pot as well…by now the whole house should be “tasonsoning”meaning, the aroma should envelop the house. I love the aroma!
•I add some chopped fresh pepper, I also add yellow pepper (the ata rodo version), it gives a special flavour to dishes. You can also add some chopped onions.
•Add seasoning cubes, I use Maggi, and don’t forget salt for taste, and the scent leave.
•Cover the pot and allow to cook-the pepper soup should be ready in 35-50 minutes.
I love my pepper soup to sit for about an hour or two before eating, because the fish would have taken in all the flavours! So yum!
Native Jollof Rice and Goat Meat
At this point I just have to do an intro, now I don’t know or haven’t met anyone that does not love jollof rice.. (if you don’t, just know you’re weird… case closed. Lol) I mean Nigerian Jollof.. 😁 (no offense to my other jollof making brethrens)..
Like a day has even been set out to celebrate Jollof rice!! WORLD JOLLOF RICE DAY
So today I’m bringing you Jollof with a twist, a very simple recipe.. a lot of us know it as Native Jollof rice, the one cooked with palm oil, it has other names too.. Palm oil rice, Iresi elepo, and the efik call it Iwuk Edesi..
Now I just want to put this out there, a lot of Nigerians believe palm oil is very unhealthy, but I would have you know that it is a very good healthy oil to cook with, it contains good unsaturated fats. It does not contain ANY cholesterol. Palm oil is a plant based product and cannot contain cholesterol. Cholesterol is only found in animal based product. Palm oil is not the enemy in Nigerian cooking, as with everything in life.. moderation is key.
Drum roll please!
2 cups Regular Rice
Chopped Ugu vegetable
1 tsp salt
1 Seasoning Cube
1 medium sized Onion
2 Fresh yellow peppers
1/4 cup Smoked Big Prawn
1 Cup Ponmo cut in pieces
1 tbs Ground Crayfish
Blend 10 plum tomatos,2 habanero pepper, 1 onion mixture
1 big Smoked catfish
2 Chopped Paprika Chilli
1 Chopped Habanero Pepper
1/4 cup Palm Oil
1 tbs Locust beans/Iru
Par boil rice and boil pepper mixture (combination of tomato, pepper, and onion) till it is almost dry.
Heat up pot with palm oil, when it is hot add chopped onions, chopped peppers, locust beans, fry for 3 minutes.
Add roughly blended tomato mix, add crayfish, chopped ponmo, smoked catfish (in pieces) and smoked prawns, seasoning cube and salt. Allow this to fry till the oil floats to the top.
Now add water, enough to cook the rice, then add the par boiled rice. Stir so that the ingredients will go around, then cover and allow to cook for 20 minutes/till rice is cooked.
Boil your meat separately, season very well.. do not add the stock in your rice. When it is cooked, Deep fry your goat meat. Would nicely complement your meal.
And the dish won’t be complete unless served in a native clay pot (Evwere)
Plantain Moi Moi (Ukpo Ogede)
We’re on a roll Ladies! But first you all have to promise me you’ll try this recipe out, even if you don’t wanna try any other one.. this particular one you MUST try out and send pictures oh! And tag us on Instagram..
First time I had this was in Mama’s (Pst M) house.. I think first time I was hearing about it too not sure.. it was so yummy! My taste buds exploded.. My Goodness!!! I absolutely loved it! I just wanted to keep eating it and not think about my waist line.. Find the recipe directly from Mama’s kitchen below 😁
2 pieces of very ripe plantain (Even if the skin is now black, as long as the inside is not decomposed)
1 cup plantain flour
1 cooking spoon palm oil
1 tablespoon ground crayfish
2 scotch bonnet pepper (ata rodo)
Pepper and Salt (to taste)
1 Knorr cube
Uma leaves or Aluminium foil bags or bowls.
Before you cook Plantain Moi Moi
Prepare the uma leaves for the Plantain Moi Moi..
Put the plantain flour in a bowl, add a small quantity of water and mix till you get a dropping consistency.
Wash, peel and cut the rope plantain into small pieces.
Grind the crayfish, cut the onions and pepper into small pieces.
Blend the ripe plantain pieces, (add a bit of unripe plantain too, ESP if you’re not too much of a sweet tooth) plantain flour batter, onions, crayfish, pepper and stock cube with just enough water to allow the blades of the blender move.
Pour the smooth blend into a sizeable bowl.
Add salt and palm oil. Mix thoroughly till well combined.
Set a small quantity of water in a pot to boil. When the water boils, place a base for the Plantain Moi Moi wraps into the pot. This can be scrap pieces of aluminium foil, a stainless steel stand or leaf stalks from the uma leaves. (Mama always uses the leaves she claims it gives it an extra flavor.)
Scoop the mix into folded uma leaves, just as you would with beans Moi Moi.
Gently place the wraps in the pot of boiling water and cook for 25-30minutes or till a knife comes out clean when thrust through it. Add water along the way if necessary.
Leave to cool down completely and set before serving.
POUNDED YAM AND EGUSI
This Egusi soup is special! It’s Pst M’s mummy’s recipe.. 😱.. you know how they say mummy knows best. Get ready to lick your fingers and thank me later for this 😁
2 cups of ground egusi
1 bunch of water leaf
10 pcs of cow skin (Kpomo)
10 pcs of goat meat
5 pcs of shaki (beef tripe)
2 cups of shredded stock fish
2 cups of shredded dry Fish
3 table spoons of ground crayfish
5 fresh yellow peppers
5 fresh red peppers
2 medium onion bulbs
1 tablespoon of ground pepper
6 season•ing cubes
1 cup• palm oil
1 handful of washed bitter leaf
Salt to taste
Thoroughly wash goat meat, kpomo and shaki with water. Season with one onion bulb, three seasoning cubes, one tablespoon ground pepper and salt to taste. Add water and mix thoroughly. Set on medium heat and cook till tender.
Thoroughly wash stock fish and dry fish, first with hot water and afterwards with tap water. You may need to further boil the stock fish depending on its toughness. The stock fish should be very tender.
Blend remaining onion bulb, yellow peppers and red peppers with an electric blender.
Place palm oil in a pot with a pinch of salt and some chopped onions. Add blended pepper puree to the palm oil and fry till the oil starts to rise as to show the stew is fried.
Mix together with ¼ cup of water until a thick batter is formed. Add to the stew mix. Place on low heat and stir fry until the batter begins to dry up and begins to look like bread crumbs. This can take as long as ten minutes.
Stir in the water leaf and fry for 3 minutes. The water leaf should release some water into the mix. stir in cooked meat and meat stock. If meat stock is not enough to loosen the thickness of the fried egusi, add more water depending on how thick you want the soup to be.
Next, add seasoning cubes, ground crayfish, shredded dry fish, shredded stock fish and salt, stir thoroughly to combine and leave to cook for about 15 minutes.
Finally, add bitter leaf and stir in evenly. Add little amounts at a time. It should have a mildly bitter after taste. Please note MILDLY bitter. It must not over power the taste of the soup. Turn heat off after 1 minute.
Note: you can use any meat of your choice to prepare this soup. Just ensure the meat is tender.
Bring two cups of water to a rolling boil in a medium sized pot.
Add yam cubes and leave to boil for seven minutes.
When yam is cooked, scoop into a food processor or a wooden mortar.
If you are using a food processor, use the chopping blade and blend for 5 minutes until the yam is soft and fluffy and there are no visible lumps. Scoop out with a wet spoon and mold to preferred shape. It is best to blend when yam is still very hot.
If you are using a mortar and pestle, pound for about six-seven minutes or until there are no visible lumps. If yam becomes too tough, add one cooking spoon of the water used in cooking the yam and pound for another one minute. It is best to pound when yam is still very hot.
Note: you do not want your pounded yam too soft or too hard. it has to be just right.
2kg (4.4 lbs) cow foot (cut into sizeable pieces)
20cl (200ml) Palm Oil
1 tablespoon powdered edible potash (Akanwu/Kaun/Keun)
1 teaspoon ground Ehu seeds (Calabash Nutmeg)
2 tablespoons ground crayfish
2 habanero peppers (or to your taste)
1 medium onion
2 big stock cubes
Salt (to taste)
1 medium onion
10 Utazi leaves
Notes on the ingredients
The 2kg of cow foot may sound like a lot but remember that cow foot is mostly bones so 2 people that love Nkwobi can finish that in no time.
Cow foot is quite tough so if you have a pressure cooker, do use it for cooking it to save time and gas/electricity. You may be able to buy calf foot which is softer and cooks in less time.
Ehu (Calabash Nutmeg) is a very traditional ingredient that is difficult to find outide Nigeria. If you can’t buy it where you live, just prepare the Nkwobi without it. Ordinary nutmeg is not an alternative to this because they are not similar in any way. If you have friends or family in Nigeria, they will be able to buy ehu seeds and send to you, a small quantity would go a long way..
Potash is what makes the palm oil curdle. An alternative I know is what we call Ngu in Igbo. Ngu is even more traditional than potash so if you can’t find potash, chances are that you won’t be able to get Ngu either.
Utazi adds a nice bitter flavour to the Nkwobi. if you can’t buy it where you live, use spinach (bold ones), it gives the same effect and actually tastes nice! In fact that’s what I used in the video below.
Before you make the Nkwobi
Cut the cow foot into medium chunks.
Put the powdered potash into a bowl. Add a small quantity of water (about 4 table spoons) and stir well.
Pass it through a fine sieve and set the liquid aside.
Cut 1 onion into 4 big chunks.
Pound the pepper with a mortar and pestle or blitz it.
Grind the crayfish.
Crack and remove the outer shell of the ehu then grind with a dry mill eg coffee grinder.
Directions for making Nkwobi
Wash and put the cow foot chunks in a pot.
Add the stock cubes (crushed) and the chunks of onion.
Add a small quantity of water and start cooking at medium heat till well cooked. Add just enough water to prevent burning as you cook. There should not be any stock (water) in the pot when the meat is done.
While the meat is cooking, pour the palm oil into a clean dry pot.
Pour in the potash mixture (sieved) into the oil.
Stir with a wooden spatula as you pour the potash. You’ll notice the palm oil begin to curdle and turn yellow.
Keep stirring till all the oil has turned yellow.
Add the ground crayfish, pepper and ehu seeds. Stir very well till they are all incorporated.
When the meat is done, add salt, stir and cook till all the water has dried.
Add the well done cow foot to the palm oil paste and stir very well with the wooden spatula.
Put it back on the stove/cooker and heat till the Nkwobi is piping hot, stirring all the time to make sure it does not burn.
To prepare the garnish, cut the onions into rings and cut the utazi into long thin slices.
Serve the Nkwobi in a wooden mortar as shown in the image above.
Add the thin slices of utazi and onion rings on top for the full effects.
2 cups of Zobo leaves
6 cups of water
1 orange- juice and rind
1/2 a lemon- juice and rind
I tablespoon of dried chili flakes (substitute with dried shombo or cayenne pepper)
1 cinnamon stick- substitute with one tablespoon of ground cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons of organic honey
2 stumps of fresh ginger
Sugar syrup to finish- optional
•Measure two cups of Zobo leaves, pour in a sieve and rinse with cold water.
• Prep the other ingredients: slice the orange, extract the juice and cut the pulp into quarters, do the same for the lemon. Peel the skin of the ginger, pound in a mortar using a pestle or roughly blend.
• In a pot, add the zobo leaves with 6 cups of cold water set the heat to low and add all the ingredients in the step above including the cinnamon stick.
•Transfer the mixture into a plastic bowl, add honey and leave to cool down. Ordinarily you would sieve out the leaves and other ingredients.. but i let it steep further for two days.. first on the kitchen counter and the second day in the fridge
Each time I tasted it.. it tasted much better. Drain out the ingredients, transfer into a bowl and add hot water.. Use the resultant solution to dilute the drink that way you get as much as you can out of the leaves after which you can discard.
Leave to chill in the fridge.. garnish with slices of orange, lemon and lime..
Serve chilled in a glass with Ice cubes (Don not add sugar syrup until you are ready to serve, the sugar tends to alter the taste after sometime in the fridge)
There you have it ladies! A complete African inspired dish for Christmas.