Here are some classic meals from Mama Ashake's open kitchen
The unique flavour from pots and firewood
Many Nigerians prefer the taste of food prepared with pots and firewood. The meals gain a unique flavour from the smoke emitting from the firewood.
As a result of the local cookware, preparing the meal is fast. The firewood conducts heat to reach all sides of the pot at once.
#1: Garnished coconut rice
In Nigeria, coconut rice is made by cooking rice in the juice of shredded coconut flesh steeped in hot water and then drained. The milk can be added to a tomato base, such as that used for jollof rice, or cooked on its own with the rice.
A full meal
Garnished coconut rice served with fried plantain, peppered fish, boiled egg and turkey is what many Nigerians consider a full meal: enough protein, with plantain — a major food accompaniment in Nigeria — and rice, a major staple in the country.
Coconut rice comes next to jollof rice and fried rice in Nigeria. It can be made plain or garnished with protein and vegetables.
#2: Jollof rice
Although considerable variation exists, the basic profile for Nigerian jollof rice includes long grain parboiled rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, pepper, vegetable oil, onions, and stock cubes with most of the ingredients cooked in one pot.
Party jollof rice
Party jollof rice is unarguably the most commonly desired rice in Nigeria because of its unique taste. It is believed by many to be the ideal kind of jollof rice because of the way it is prepared: in outdoor kitchens, using a large cauldron and cooked over firewood.
The heat and smoke that emanate from the firewood and charcoal during the cooking process means that many Nigerians only get to eat this recipe at parties where meals are cooked for large crowds using firewood and charcoal. Hence, the qualifier "party" jollof rice.
#3: Beans - Èwà
Beans (Èwà in Yoruba) are perhaps the most versatile ingredients for most meals in Nigeria. They can be used for moi-moi, akara, Èwà Àgòyìn or simply plain beans meals.
Ewa Àgòyìn, a combination of beans and pepper sauce, is an indigenous Yorùbá meal. Èwà is the Yoruba name for beans, while Àgòyìn is the name of the area and people the dish originates from.
An authentic Èwà Àgòyìn sauce requires using a lot of palm oil and bleaching it before using it to fry peppers. The peppers used for Ewa Àgòyìn sauce are dried bell peppers, cameroon peppers and dried pepper seeds, which are mostly dried seeds of red chilli peppers. The beans are made to be really soft, and then they are mashed.
#4: Òfadà stew
This stew is made for a particular variety of rice in the south-west region called Òfadà. The rice is named after Òfadà town in Ogun state where it is almost exclusively grown.
Òfadà stew is prepared specifically for Òfadà rice, which is highly flavoured with bleached palm oil, fermented locust beans (irú) and crayfish (edé).
The stew's signature is its aroma and assorted meat. The rice is short grain rice locally wrapped and served in leaves (ewé'ran leaves).
Àmàlà occupies the prime spot on a local Yoruba kitchen menu. The most common ingredient for preparing Àmàlà is yam flour, also known as Àmàlà Isu. Other types are plantain flour (Àmàlà ògèdè) and cassava flour (Àmàlà láfú). All flour used for Àmàlà are called Elùbó.
Hot Àmàlà available!
As e dey hot, Ó n gbónọ́ feli feli
Many Nigerians prefer to eat their Àmàlà immersed in a combination of gbegiri, ewedu soup, and tomato stew for a well-rounded savoury taste – always served hot.
In fact, flashing signs in front of small roadside bukkas (local kitchen/eatery coined from the Romanian word 'bucataria') usually advertise nothing but “Hot Àmàlà Available. As e dey hot, Ó n gbónọ́ feli feli.”
Ewédú soup is prepared with ‘Ewédú’ leaves; hand picked, washed, boiled and mashed with a cooking broom known as ìjábè. The leaves are traditionally mashed with the cooking broom to increase the viscosity of the soup and for a better consistency.
Wrap and soup
Combining Ewédú soup and Gbegiri is one of the most popular ways of eating Àmàlà.
Gbegiri is prepared with brown beans which are peeled and cooked until they are extremely soft. It takes about an hour or more to do this. The soft beans are blended and filtered with a sieve, then poured into a pot and brought to boil with smoked fish, palm oil and seasonings.
#7: Okra soup
Okra soup, known as ilá àsèpò in Yorùbá language, has a slimy texture similar to ewédú soup.
The okra fingers are grated and prepared with heated palm oil, stockfish, pònmó (cow skin), protein of choice (beef, chicken, turkey, etc), roasted mackerel, seasonings and ground crayfish.
Okra can be served with eba, pounded yam or other types of pastes typically referred to as "swallow".
#8: Pounded yam
Pounded yam is one of the most loved Nigerian meals. It can be stressful to prepare – especially when using the traditional (and locally preferred) mortar and pestle.
Pounded yam, chief of swallows
Nigeria is the world's largest producer of yams, and pounded yam is the major swallow often served at traditional parties in Nigeria. It is an important part of Yorùbá people's culture in the western part of Nigeria and the Tivs in Benue state.
Pounded yam can also be used as thickener in preparation of a soup known as Ofe Nsala — a delicacy peculiar to the Igbo tribe of Nigeria.
Moi-Moi is a steamed beans pudding and a staple meal across many regions of Nigeria. It is traditionally cooked by wrapping the beans pudding in banana leaves and covering the wraps with more leaves before cooking.
Steamed beans pudding
The steamed beans pudding is made from peeled black-eyed peas, onions, fresh ground peppers and any protein of choice including boiled egg, sausage, corned beef, etc.
It can be served with protein such as fish, chicken, beef or snail. When eaten as breakfast, it is often served with Ògì, a type of cornmeal porridge.
#10: Fried plantain
Fried plantains (Dòdò in Yorùbá) is a popular meal that can be eaten as a side dish or paired with any rice dish. It is also fast and easy to prepare.
Dòdò with Efo
Dòdò may be served on its own, with fried eggs, Nigerian stew, stir-fry sauce or vegetable sauce known as èfó rírò.
Fried plantains are mostly sliced in an oval shape in Nigeria. They can also be sliced round or diced into cubes. After slicing, they are deep-fried in oil.
Èfó rírò is prepared with green leafy vegetables. Two leafy vegetables indigenously used are Èfó Soko (Spinach) and Èfó Tètè (Green Amaranth). However, one may choose to use pumpkin leaves or spinach. Other ingredients include stockfish, cow skin, palm oil, crayfish, scotch bonnet pepper, tàtàsé, locust bean, tripe sàkì, assorted meat, chicken (or any protein of choice).
Curator: Patrick Enaholo
Research: Olúwafisáyọ̀ Ọkàrè
Photographer: O'Buchi Multimedia
Text: Olúwafisáyọ̀ Ọkàrè
Text editor: Munachim Amah
© The Centenary Project