I have not been in the kitchen lately for reasons beyond my control. There have been trips out of town, exhaustion from work, and life in general. But when you love something, as much as I love cooking, and you love people, as much as I love you my fellow readers, then sometimes you have to put all the excuses aside, and make it happen! And that is exactly what I did last weekend. I finally cooked, and not only did I cook, but I made something I had never tried before and it came out great!!! Of course, it would not be me if I didn’t attempt to give yall a little anecdote *smiles*

So right up until the start of last year, you would not catch me eating Nigerian food! Like for nothing on earth would I even look at jellof rice, or any of the other things I am killing myself for right now. Then one day, I was hanging out with a friend, and he offered me some food. First thing that comes out of my mouth is ” you know yall nigerians dont know how to cook right?” I know, pretty rude, but yeah that happens a lot. He was not pleased my remark and proceeded to warn me that his mom made the food, so of course I kept quiet and served myself. Believe me! I am not exaggerating when I say my whole life changed when I tasted the first serving of that jellof rice! There are no words, like absolutely no words to describe the feeling I got when I tasted that rice, and there was just enough for us two so I could not help myself to seconds

Yup! That was me after I got done, but of course I did not let him see me!

I have tried recreating that rice recipe by taste alone over the last year, but somehow I have not gotten it right, but I do believe that someday I will oh. Even if it means I will have to go to Abuja and stake out his parents abode, I will find his mother to teach me how to make that rice. So yeah, that was the beginning of my love for nigerian food and it has only grown since then.

A few weeks ago, my friend and I went to visit some other friends of hers. When we got there, like true Africans, they offered us food. It was late, and I was not feeling the egusi soup “like that” so I politely declined the offer. My friend decided to taste some, and offered me a piece of meat from her food. When I tell you that I dont remember ever tasting anything like that before, believe me. It was amazing!!! Of course, I behaved myself and did not go back on my word and ask for food, but I knew I was going to have to make some soon, and that’s what I did last weekend. Unfortunately, because it was my first time making it, and I was fishing for ingredients as I carried on, I don’t have a picture of all my characters, but I will try to make it as easy to follow as possible.

Enter the big boys of the day: shaki aka towel aka tripe, there was also kpomo aka canda aka beef skin and the honorable smoked turkey who has no aliases that I can think of at the moment.

shaki, kpomo and smoked turkey

For someone who does not usually care much for meat, I went all out for this egusi soup! So I started by washing the meats and then boiling them in my pressure cooker which I hardly ever get to use. I seasoned with Maggi™, black pepper, white pepper, habanero peppers, and some ginger. Can you tell I love peppers? Its a miracle I did not attempt to add some bell peppers in here, lol. Anyways, I boiled the kpomo and shaki first because they are a lot tougher than the smoked turkey. I checked on them after 30 minutes and the kpomo was already slightly tender, so I added the smoke turkey to the pot. In hindsight, I should have taken the kpomo out after the 30 minutes had elapsed, because it was wayyy too soft when I took the pressure pot off the stove 15 minutes later. So basically, I boiled the beefs for 45 minutes, and the turkey for 15.

MEAT!!! Notice the kpomo looking like jello, that is because it was overcooked

Once the meats were done, I had to go dig deep in my storage area for the egusi I knew I’d had for over 2 years! Because I dont eat egusi often, I prefer to have it sent to me whole, rather than ground because someone told me a long long time ago, that it loses its taste after a while when its ground. I don’t know how true that is, but I always ask for whole seeds, which happen to look like so

Dried melon seeds aka EGUSI

Unfortunately, I do not own a coffee grinder or anything which is good for grinding dried foods, so I had to make do with the blender. The only drawback of this was the fact that I had to drown the egusi in meat stock to make sure it was probably ground, and there were no lumps or worse still, whole seeds.

Because I am not the smartest cookie out there, I forgot to get a picture of the ground egusi once I got done. It did like a paste of sorts, and it was rather smooth as the bits of egusi could not be differentiated. While scouting for recipes for this soup, I read somewhere that I needed to make sure the egusi cooked for at least an hour if not it could cause diarrhea. Yikes!!! I did not need to read anymore to know that I was going to cook this ish for a loooooong time! My stomach is ultra sensitive so I do not mess with it, ever! So yeah, I added the ground egusi to the meat stock and let it cook for at least an hour. It could have been longer, but I say an hour is good enough. Just be sure that you have enough water in the pot and your burners are on medium heat. I added about two more cups of water to the meat stock, I think one would have been enough.

Meat added to the egusi

I added the meats to the egusi broth, and probably let the pot simmer for another 15 minutes or so. In the meantime I got my collard greens ready. I got 2 bundles from the store, although I didnt think I was gonna need both. I washed the first bundle, cut away the stalks and chopped the leaves

Chopped collard greens

After adding the first bundle to the pot, I realized it was not going to be enough, so I repeated the process for the second one, and added to the pot as fast as I could

This is the pot after the first bundle of greens

Simmering rather nicely after adding the second bundle

I have zero arm strength so I usually do not like having to cook anything that requires me stirring, but I had to make an effort here. Mixing the egusi broth was quite a challenge for me, but I think I did okay. You need to make sure you mix well.

Adding palm oil ...

The palm oil was one of the last things I added. Actually, the only thing I added after was the crayfish. I am not sure if that is how authentic naija egusi soup is made, but I swear by crayfish for most of my african recipes, and this will be one of them!

Almost done ...

Go ahead, and grab a paper towel and wipe your drool because we both know you want a piece of this right about now! Its orrai, I feel your pain from here *hugs* After looking at Lohi’s blog where she had heart-shaped eba (here). I just had to go fancy with my presentation and try something new

Not bad huh? Thanks to instagram for allowing to mess with the effects and sturves

I think I did okay oh. Anyways, after a hard day’s work I invited my friend over for dinner and critiques seeing that he’s nigerian and all. I got a fist bump from him, and that should tell you his thoughts!

Fancy huh?

INGREDIENTS

  • 1lb of Beef Tripe aka Shaki aka Towel
  • 1lb of Beef Skin aka Kpomo aka Canda
  • 2lbs of smoked turkey
  • 2 bundles of Collard Greens
  • 1-3/4 cup of dried egusi (whole seeds)
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1tsp Black Pepper
  • 1tsp of powdered Ginger
  • 2tsp white pepper
  • 4tsp of ground Habanero peppers
  • 5tsp of Maggi™
  • 1/3 cup of Palm oil
  • 1 cup of crayfish

RECIPE

  1. In a clean pressure pot, place your washed meats and season with all the peppers, ginger and Maggi™. Add your water to the pot, such that the meat is completely submerged in water. Place the pressure pot on stove, and boil for about 30 mins on medium high heat. Remove kpomo from pot, and add turkey instead. Return pot to the stove and boil for another 15 minutes or so. Drain meats from stock and set aside, while saving the stock for use later.
  2. Place your dried egusi in a blender and add 2 cups of stock to it. Blend until you get a purée-like consistency.
  3. Pour your remaining stock into a clean pot and add the puréed egusi to it. Allow to cook for at least an hour
  4. In the meantime, wash your collard greens, break away from the stem and chop the leaves rather nicely.
  5. Add the meats to the egusi and allow to simmer for say 10 minutes. Next add in the the collard greens and be sure to mix thoroughly. As in, make sure that the egusi, collard greens and meats are on first name basis with each other. Once thoroughly mixed, allow to cook for a  few minutes until the greens are tender enough for you.
  6. Pour your palm oil into the pot, and allow to simmer some. Finally, add in some crayfish, then inhale. And exhale. And inhale again. Admit it, you love that smell. At this point check for flavour and add more maggi™ as you see fit.
  7. Stir your pot to make sure everything is nice and well-settled in.
  8. Cooking eba, amala or pounded yam are not my strengths so you are on your own there! lol. But for real though, serve and eat with any “solid” of your choice

BON APPETIT!!!

That’s all for now folks, and I hope I was as coherent you’d like. But please send me an email, leave a comment, something, if you have any questions. I always look forward to reading from yall!

Bisous, Bils

7 Replies to “Ode to Nigerian cuisine”

    1. You are most welcome my dear! I will be more than happy to have you. Thanks for stopping by though. I appreciate it! And I love reading about your European adventures too!

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