Egusi soup and roasted fish with a touch of uziza

I grew up watching my mother cook. Oh how I disliked it. But I have a lot of memories of her cooking, including my dad. I remember my mother making egusi with tomatoes and peppers. And I know my add added some kind of thickner to his…normally achi (daddy’s recipe coming soon). I wanted some egusi soup with something different to it. So after conversation with a friend about using uziza in egusi soup, I decided to try it as it sounded quite interesting. I had always used a sprinkle of utazi, but uziza sounded brilliant.
So I present to you, my two vegetable Egusi and roasted fish with a sprinkle of uziza…
Thank you Lady Anuli for the uziza tip
Ingredients:
Fresh fish (preferrably mackerel)
Palm oil
Plum tomatoes
Egusi
Red bell pepper
Salt
Seasoning cube (optional)
Uziza
Okazi
Spinach (I used a bag of defrosted spinach. I squeezed the water out before using)
Crayfish
One small onion

Directions:
Season fish with salt and pepper then roast slowly without over drying.

Blend peppers(tatase and atarodo), onions and tomatoes then boil out the excess water if any.

Blend your egusi into a smooth and slightly thick paste. If your egusi has already been blended; then add some water and make a paste

Heat up some palm oil, pour in some crayfish and tomato mix. Fry until the oil floats to the top and looks clear. Then add dollops of your egusi paste and let it fry. Once the bottom is fried; flip (it may not flip like a pancake but it’s okay). After about 3minutes, stir everything together. keep stiring until the egusi and tomato mix looks like scrambled eggs then add your meat stock or water (if using meat, then add your meat and meat stock at this point)and check for seasonings. Add some dry pepper and let it cook on medium heat for about 5-10minutes on low heat(the dry pepper marries well with the other peppers and causes an amazing burst of flavours); then add your vegetables. I used okazi and spinach(these are both ideas of my parents. My dad liked egusi with achi and okazi, my mom liked it with ugu, bitter leaf, or water leaves. I didn’t have ugu or water leaves so I used spinach)…then add some uziza leaves and stir. Following the vegetables, add your roasted fish and dry fish(if using a tougher version of dry fish, then add it earlier when you add the meat stock or water). check for seasonings and shake the pot a little(dont stir so that you don’t break the fish)…after about 3-5 minutes set aside and serve when slightly cooled and fish must have soaked the juices of the soup

Please cook on low to medium heat to avoid burning

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Nmajewel
#chefnma

A blissful discovery. Egusi Na’Akwu (Egusi with palm nut cream)

I remember first sharing the finished picture to this recipe on my personal facebook page and on a facebook group(so you think you can cook…sytycc). It has now become a big hit with a lot of people around me. It all started one day, I waltzed into my kitchen looking to cook some egusi soup. I blended the egusi seeds and went to fetch some oil in my pantry…lo and behold there was none “no way jose” I said quietly to myself. I kept searching and I found a can of palm nut cream. What would it hurt, I am too lazy of a chef to start hassling myself for oil and we all know that savory does not have to cost an arm and a leg right? After all I use it for ogbono soup, yes you first heard it here. I use palm nut cream for ogbono soup sometimes…yes I can see the look on your face. Not to worry, my recipe would be coming soon I decided to go for the palm nut cream with egusi and here was how: For this recipe you would need Egusi(blend or mix into a paste with crayfish) Palm nut cream(for two cups of egusi, 2 cooking spoons of the palm nut cream will work just fine) Atarodo Dry pepper Salt Any meat of your choice (I used chicken) Dry fish Stock fish Crayfish Spinach or water leaf( I used a bag of frozen spinach and I just squeezed the water out after defrosting) Knorr (for meat stock) or any other type of cube. I use a special one which I shall share later Cameroon pepper (optional for meat stock. A tsp will work just fine) A small Onion (optional for meat stock only) Procedure: Wash your meats and place in a pot along with the stock fish, freshly crushed atarodo, crayfish, cameroon pepper (if you enjoy a lot of heat),and salt(do not add water at this point) Let the meat cook on medium heat until the water has kind of dried out; then add water enough to cover the meat and stock fish and reseason adding your seasoning cubes, taste and let the meat cook until tender. image In another pot and on low heat pour your palm nut cream and egusi mix and stir for about 3minutes. Pour in your meat stock (please eye ball the mixture so as not to make it too watery), and add your dry fish. Let it cook uncovered on medium to low heat for about 10minutes. Add your spinach(I always use spinach in place of water leaf whenever I cannot find any water leaf), stir, and check for seasonings. You may add some dry pepper at this point to tie the taste of the soup together. image Serve with rice, yam or any swallow(not the bird) of your choice #DineExquisitelyAfrican #ChefNma #ExquisitelyGolden #LazyChef #StayingTrueToNigerianCooking #YumYumInYourTummy Nmajewel #chefnma

Liquid Gold. How To Make Ncha with Ngo’

So I am enjoying blogging about food and today I bring you my adventures with ngó (palm kernel skin burnt into ash).
Last year while I was on a phone call with my sister, I complained about how my ‘akanwu’ aka potash was out and how badly I needed a new stash. She almost screamed the phone out of my ear saying “that thing is a chemical and can be quite poisonous, do you want to hurt yourself?” “I shall send you some ngó.” Making faces as if she could see me, I asked “what is that?”
Laughing she said “ah, oyinbo. I dun forget say you be ajebutter. It is made out of the covering of the palmnut. After it is burnt, the ashes can be used for ncha.” “When you recieve it, just let me know and I shall teach you how to use it.”

Well, almost a year later, I decided to open and use my stash of ngo, but I had forgotten how to use it. I decided to reach out to Jackie right after I had posted a question on a facebook group (so you think you can cook aka ‘sytycc’) asking questions on how to use it. Jackie, this lady seems to know all these things and she gladly shares her ideas. Well, she gave me some directions and so did some really kind members of the group. I tell you some people are just like angels in human form. Thank you guys.

According to Jackie, she said she does 1part ngó and 2 to 3 parts water all mixed together while gently stirring. She also said it must taste like potash…”okay na!” I said to myself excitedly. The ladies from the food group also said mix ngó and water then use and save. Another question I asked Jackie was, “do I refrigerate?” And Jackie’s answer was “No, let it stay in room temperature and just mix and pour into your palm oil when you want to use it.”

So let’s get right to it
Here is a photo of my ngó

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I measured a tablespoon and mixed with 3 table spoons of luke warm water.

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I stirred and tasted the ngó and it tasted just like potash water. Eureka! (thank you for the tip Jackie). I let the ngó mix sit while I measured a little portion of palm oil into another bowl.
Here is the first result.

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You can see the ngó and the now thickened oil, but alas! It had the ngó particles…”no no no” I thought to myself. Then ding!!! I may need to filter this thing into the oil. Finally this little sieve had a use 😂…Off I went to try it again with another little bowl of oil with a tiny sieve in tow ☺ and the result was voila!
Creamy goodness

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A smooth ngó
Thank you Jackie and my sytycc ladies.
Yet another adventure conquered
#DineExquisitelyAfrican
#ChefNma
#ExquisitelyGolden
#LazyChef
#Igbokwenu
#LiquidGold

Nmajewel
#chefnma

The fried rice that brought and satisfied a decade missed of my mother’s love

I didnt want to blog about food but for this one I shall as it is special.
I had not seen my mother in a decade and it felt like forever. Life had me doing a whole lot and she was kept busy too…she finally paid a visit and there at the airport I saw my mother “Mommy!” I screamed…”Nmam!” She said excitedly as she grabbed and felt for my entire body; then she grabbed my children, touching them from head to toe. For the both of us, it felt so surreal…Mommy stayed for some weeks and I treated her to her own recipes. She was even so suprised as I grew up not really liking cooking. I only made “supergetti” for my brothers and native rice. I also made daddy’s okra; “oiless okra ie

Moving on, one really beautiful afternoon, I wanted to make mommy some fried rice. She watched me as I juggled with the ingredients and the kids and she said “Nma, bia kam’mu mé yá. I starred at her and whispered “No mommy, go and sit. I will do it.” She smiled and replied “you forget I am a chef. Let me do it.” And folks, that was how mommy made her special fried rice. I don’t even think I do it justice enough.

Due to popular demand on my facebook page on how to make the typical Nigerian fried rice, I decided to do this quick tutorial.
The name fried rice comes from the method in which the rice is cooked using a high temperature and a high temoerature oil eg peanut oil. For this recipe, I used the following ingredients:

*One whole corn; shelled and peeled using a fruit peeler or you may use one can of natural whole kernel corn rinsed and drained.
*Fresh sweet peas or one can of naturally sweet peas; rinsed and drained.
*Green beans. Snapped and cut diagonally (or which ever way you like it cut)
*Carrots washed with a strong clothe and diced. (Do not scrape your carrots or you may loose some of the nutrients. Wash with a strong clothe)
*sweet onion cut into thin slices
*liver (beef liver)
*Chicken tighs. Diced.(Mommy used shrimp, but I did not have any shrimp and I am one #LazyChef who doesn’t like to sweat ingredients along with the fact that we all know that “savory doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg,” so I used chicken)
*high tempereature oil. You may use peanut oil, but I settled for sun flower oil.
*Cabbage, finely sliced or grate with a grater (picture has been attached)

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*Regular long grain rice

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*Chicken or beef stock
*Curry, thyme, freshly grated nutmeg, salt, and garlic (garlic is optional)
*Seasoning cube(optional)
Red pepper flakes or chopped atarodo (remove the seeds to reduce the heat)
Directions:
In a pot, wash and bring liver to a boil. Wash and drain again; then cook with salt (mommy says always precook offals). When cooked, chop and set aside

Season chicken tighs (I used chicken tighs as they are most flavourful. Cut around the bone if not deboned and season with salt, pepper, and thyme then let it marinade while you prepare the other ingredients.)

Prepare all your vegetables(chop away at this stage) and set aside

Wash rice until the water runs clear; then pre boil and drain (run cold water over it while draining to stop it from cooking); put back in a pot with meat stock (I shall do a different tutorial for making stock), season with curry (not too much, just to taste. We don’t want curry tasting fried rice or a fried rice that looks as green as the Nigerian flag…*laughs), thyme, and salt as needed. Bring rice to a boil and reduce heat, cover to cook until aldente (it should have a bite to it)
While rice is cooking, in a wok heat some oil and fry your chicken stiring constantly to prevent burning. When the chicken is well browned. Remove and drain unto a peper towel; then pour in the liver and cook until browned all over as well. At this point check on your rice making sure its done(aldente…keeping some bite to it)
*Note that you can grill the chicken and livers instead of frying(just a healthier option)

In a wok, heat some more oil (please eye ball your oil measurements. Do not use too much oil) When oil becomes quite hot throw in your onions (be ready to do this stage quickly), when the onion is almost becoming transluscent and you can smell it, throw in your green beans, stirring constantly, then the carrots, peas and corn. Stir fry for just a few minutes(it’s safer to say 3 minutes. You want the veggies to retain it’s crunch); then throw in your cabbage, check for seasonings while adding some thyme (I love thyme:)) and  constantly stirring, add your rice in small increments until each grain is coated with the veggies and oil. Check for seasonings again and at the end you may add some grated garlic for aromats, I used nut meg instead; then serve.

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#DineExqusitelyAfrican
#ChefNma
#ExquisitelyGolden

Nmajewel
#chefnma

Association is not by force

So once again I am errrm…sort of angry.
Just days ago some one asked on a social network site and I think it was “what did the world say you would be?” Or something like that. Anyway, that one question provoked a lot of thoughts within me. I always say how I am a work in progress and I have had quite a few people tell me things that did not seem good about me or what I do. These things have ranged from my hair to my cooking. Some people think they have all the right to tell you why you are a certain way, and what to do or not to do. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong in giving advice, but at the rate people dish out their opinions and expect the other person to just jump on it amazes me beyond belief

No human being, especially without being asked has any right to tell another human being what is bad about them and how they can fix it…it is really ANNOYING. You have no right to pull another person down, if you have nothing nice or encouraging to say; then say absolutely nothing.

Some people have been told how they will not amount to anything, some have been called all kinds of names (me inclusive), but these advisers forget that while they do these evil in form of an advice, they are tearing down a human being and creating a monster; then when the person “monster” over reacts they begin to fidget, rant, and complain like they didn’t know what led the person to over reacting…some human beings are just impossible.

To the one who has been called out of their name, to the one who has been told “you are not good enough,” to the one who has been torn down, to the one who has been called ugly, to the one who has been told “you are incapable,” to the one who has been told “you cannot be loved,” or “you are not worth it.”  Know today that you are who GOD says you are,  you are good enough, you are beautiful/handsome beyond imagination, you can do all things, you are worth every sweat, you are worth love, you are a child of the most high. It is no one’s right to tell you about yourself when you have your own tongue to speak into your life. I don’t know why we give other people such right to say certain things to/about us when we have our own tongues to speak positivity into our lives.

Recently, I went for a function with a friend and I kind of had my colors on as I felt like dressing up the way I felt on the inside on that day. I showed a friend of mine the pictures I took and they said oh why did you dress like this, these colors are not right, you look like a rainbow, your hair cut is not nice, your head is big…”imagine, chai I dun suffer for some people hand o.” Well, I had to stop the person from talking and I said “do you realize I knew what I was doing when I shaved my hair and dressed like a rainbow. To me, the colors match so please keep it moving by changing the subject.” It felt good to say those words.
Nobody has the right to make you feel bad about yourself. If they do not like who you are then adi’os! No association is by force…not one…

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

Nmajewel
#chefnma

Love. Life. Food

I write about love, life and food and the new year greets with a recipe which I really love. Plantain cups! and tostadas
I am a long suffering chef who pretty much has to teach herself everything. I can have different recipes for one kind of food because I taught myself most of what I know, but I have to say the basics of what I know comes from my mother who is a retired chef. I hated cooking as a child and it mad me so mad when father(GOD rest his soul) had me cook his okra soups…”this man dun start again.” I would mumble to myself. I had to cut those suckers with a knife and my fingers and they would look so raw. I only just learnt to use a band aid…and thank GOD for the blender/chopper. The only thing I probably knew how to cook was native/local jollof rice and “supergetti ” and dry fish; which my brothers loved but I have to say history has been made in my kitchen. A really tiny space “where the magic happens”
It takes me a while to get to certain recipes and it took me age of wondes to get to this. My first time trying it was two days ago. I had let the plantain sit for some days as I had thought to myself “the riper the better…how wrong was I? Oh totally wrong! The plantain was a total mess and I felt angry at myself. I decided to do more research on tostones and plantain cups. Well I did it once more and it was absolutely delicious. You may make it baked/grilled if you choose to.
I present to you my plantain cups and the flat ones are tostones topped with home made guacomole and chopped seafood. This dish is just bursting with flavours. I made parts of it an original by adding just a pinch of ehuru…once more… Spanish meets Nigerian

Medium ripe plantain. (If you can feel on it and it feels too soft then you need one that is not too ripe).

One ehuru seed (optional)
One ripe avocado
one chili(remove the seeds)
Finely chopped onion(a really small one)
Finely chopped cilantro
One lime or lemon
Oil for frying
A pinch of salt
A tomato (optional to remove seeds)

In a bowl remove and mash the avocado. Add the tomatoes, chili, salt, cilantro, onion, a squeeze of a lime or lemon and place in a refridgerator.

Wash and peel your plantain. Cut into one inch cylinders. Mean while heat some oil and fry each side of the plantain(a minute on each side just go get it brown) and promptly remove; placing it on a paper towel. Using a lemon squeezer or a small spoon you can press them into cups or use a tostonera. You may also make some flat if you choose.

Put this back into the hot oil and refry or at this point place them in the oven or on a grill. When it is done and brown to your taste remove from heat and sprinkle a pinch of salt (though optional) and set aside

Devein and chop your shrimp and seafood, sprinkle a pinch of salt and ehuru(ehuru is optional) Heat some butter and toss in some chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes and remove from heat

On the tostones place some of the avocado dip, and top with seafood, some chopped onion, chopped cilantro and tomatoes and serve. The warmth of the tostones and coolness and spices in the avocado dip along with the warm topping will send your taste buds to foodie heaven!

This dish can be used as an appetizer or a main dish with seafood and fresh salad as a side.

May this Newyear bring us joy peace and give us more exciting things.
Blessings.

Psalm 50:12
#ChefNma

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Nmajewel
#chefnma