There’s always the holidays to make certain dishes that we don’t always get to have during the rest of the year. But these days, it’s not always so.
During the holidays, my father(God rest his soul) always had a goat and chickens butchered for us and the rest of his extended family. Apart from the goat meat and offal pepper soup, there was always the goat meat stew. This stew was always prepared by my mother and my father’s sister (may God rest her soul).
It was made with fresh tomatoes and red rot pepper. During those times, the kitchen was at the back of my father’s house and all I did was watch from the window of my mother’s bedroom until I was old enough to help in the kitchen. Helping in the kitchen was never my strongest point. I was made to crush the tomatoes and peppers with the mortar and a pestle. Tedious? Absolutely! And it made the cooking process take a whole day.
If there’s one invention I’m utter mostly grateful for, it’s the blender. Imagine just whipping the tomatoes and pepper into a puree and pouring them straight into your oil.
Growing up Nigerian was adventurous. We had to be creative in the kitchen when we had no appliances or power to get the appliances to work. We used the grinding stone to crush peppers, beans, tomatoes, onions…everything. And if you were lucky, your parents helped with an easier way out by paying the local mill to help puree or grind these ingredients. I remember paying 10Naira to blend tomatoes for stew while in the city. But in my father’s country home, the market place was very far, so we had no other option than the mortar and the pestle.
Despite all of these, there was still joy amongst us as a family because it was Christmas and we got to eat fried goat meat.
After the goat was butchered, we split it into different parts. The offal was used to make a simple pepper soup and the head if not used for Isi ewu, it was added to the pepper soup. The remaining meat was split into different parts and shared amongst my dad and his brothers. Sometimes, my dad had my mother cook a pot of stew and the whole clan was invited to have Christmas lunch with us. One thing my father never did was eat by himself.
The recipe below is my mother’s recipe that has been tweaked and made easy by me.
Naturally, the recipe calls for only tomatoes and the tomatoes were never really smoothly crushed. But with the different cultures in Nigeria, I have decided to add bell peppers which really wasn’t my mom’s or an Igbo thing. (The Igbos are not really known for their stew or adding bell peppers to it. The Yorubas are experts in preparing delicious pots of stew with red bell peppers that slay to the heavens.).
Growing up in Nigeria, goat meat wasn’t something we ate ordinarily and on a daily basis, but these days, you can make it for Sunday dinner and for Thanksgiving. It’s one of the main side dishes on the dinner table during the holidays.
Now, get this on your dinner table too…
- 1½ lb goat meat
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp dry pepper powder
- 1 small onion
- bouillon to taste
- 4 beef tomatoes
- 2 bell peppers
- 1 habanero
- 1½ onion
- a pinch of thyme(optional)
- 2 cups meat stock
- 1 cup cooking oil
- Pour the meat and seasonings into a cooking pot and let it cook in it's own juices. Once the juices are dry. add some water and taste for seasonings. Then let the meat cook until soft.
- Alternatively, pour water into the pot with the seasonings and meat and let it cook until soft. Drain the meat from the stock and fry or place in an oven to grill until golden brown.
- Roughly or smoothly blend the peppers, whole onion and tomatoes. Pour into a pot and let it cook until the liquid is dry and the mix has formed a paste. Heat the oil, add some onion and fry until translucent. Add a pinch of thyme to give the oil some flavor. After a minute, add the tomato mix to the oil. Add the meat stock and cook(making sure you stir occasionally to prevent burning) until the oil has floated to the top. Add the goat meat and taste for seasonings. Leave to cook for another minute; then turn the heat off and let the goat meat soak in the stew. Enjoy with rice...definitely 🙂