Of death, family and laughter. I spent the past weekend in Alabama with some part of my family. Well some from my father’s side. I lost an aunt; well more of my father’s aunt by marriage(if I’m right) Her name was Helen and she was married to my Grand father’s brother;De’ (uncle) Matthew. I called her “Mma Helen.” She was a sweet woman while she lived. Whenever we went to the village for the holidays, we could hear her carrying on happily and quite loudly as she walked to my father’s house; using her cane as a support. I was quite close to her grand daughter Grace and I remember visiting her house just so I could play with grace at her back yard. The walls of her house were blue and the doors were a shade of burgundy(I don’t remember what colors they are now though). I remember my grand uncle Matthew(may God rest his soul). He was a tall man and each time I went to visit him with my dad(May God rest his soul) and De’ Matthew was always listening to his radio with a glass of palm wine in hand. I have very vivid memories of my family together during the Christmas holidays; that each time I remember, it makes me cry because everyone is gone. Well, we visited Alabama to celebrate my dad’s aunt and it felt great seeing my family again. It did feel a little strange; I have no idea why, but there is nothing as pure as having genuine love in a family. I don’t know if the love is still there, but I pray it is.
Overall I enjoyed Ajebutter 1&2 playing with their cousins. I just realized that Ajebutter1 is almost as tall as I am. She has a mind of her own pretty much and I constantly have to remind myself that “she is not quite a baby anymore.”
And I digress
Back to the recipe:
I first heard about Paella when I lived in Massachusetts, but for some crazy reason I thought it would be difficult to prepare it. I don’t know why but I just kept putting making some on back burner because I kept saying to myself “too hard”. Anyway fast forward to now, I found out about Ofada rice and I have made all sorts with it. Ofada rice is a brand of unpolished rice made in Nigeria. To me, Ofada rice is quite similar to brown rice as it’s unpolished and retains all it’s nutrients. Since I have not been able to get any bulgur, I have relied on Ofada rice. Apart from the smell whilst cooking, it tastes absolutely divine.
Now what is Paella? (Pronounced Pa.aya) According to my own definition, it’s a type of Spanish inspired dish served in a large shallow pan. Paella is a dish that consists of different types of meat and/or seafood in a pot of rice yumminess. I was supposed to be on a low calorie diet when I made mine, so I used Ofada rice. Now let me make something clear; eating ofada rice takes some sort of acquired taste; so if you prefer, you could use regular long grain rice.
I call this dish Jollof rice on steroids because of all the seafood and sausages/meat used. I honestly like making this dish with goat meat when I can get some. Just add some cooked goat meat instead of sausages. I guess that makes it so much more Nigerian. One thing I love is tweaking recipes to make them mine and I can say I pretty much made this pot of paella mines! So unconventional; yet so damn good! Not only would the smell of this deliciouneness waft through your kitchen, but your stomach will so thank you.
No chop over feeding o!
- 1½ cups rice(wash in running water and drain)
- 1lb shrimp(cleaned and deveined)(sprinkle with salt)
- ½ lb cooked mussels
- 1 sausage(sliced) or (1/2lb cooked and chopped goat meat)
- 2 table spoons coconut oil
- ½ tbsp. butter
- 1 medium onion(chopped)
- 2 medium garlic cloves(minced)
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp turmeric(use curry as a substitute)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes or (4 small plum chopped tomatoes)
- meat stock(about 2 cups)
- 1crushed habanero pepper(ata-rodo)
- 1tsp chili flakes or ground Cameroon pepper
- ½-1 cup vegetables(carrots and peas)
- salt to taste
- Heat 1 tbsp. oil, stir fry the shrimp until pink then set aside. Add the remaining oil to the pot and cook the sausages or goat meat until brown on both sides. Add the butter and onion. Cook until translucent. add the garlic and cook until fragrant; then add the rice and cook until all the rice is coated with the oil.
- Add the tomatoes and cook until almost reduced(stir often). Add the turmeric, ground pepper, black pepper and paprika and stir well.
- Add the stock to a little above the rice. Check for seasonings and stir.
- Bring the pot to a boil; then cover with foil or a clean grocery bag and a tight lid; then reduce the heat and cook until rice is Aldente. Add your vegetables, habanero pepper, shrimp and seafood(mussels)and serve