Food. A Blessing Or A Curse(Taboo)

I have been trying to figure out what to write for the new year. I’m surprised at how well I paced myself for this post.

It was supposed to be a recipe, but I decided to start on a high note.

First things first, Happy New year my people! Thank you for last year and the year before. I wouldn’t be here if you guys weren’t reading my posts or here with me. I’m hoping for a smoother ride this year with tremendously new things to bring us success this year.

Last year, I was still trying to find myself, in the sense that I was learning how to pace myself and do things according to the order of importance.

To kick off this year, I want to write about taboos.

I have been very fascinated about different foods and how they affect us especially when it comes to our tradition.

What are taboos? Taboos are pretty much a set of rules; religious or traditional; forbidding a certain group of people or a person’s association with anything.

Hence a food taboo is a practice in which certain foods cannot or may not be eaten. It could be for religious, traditional or for health purposes.

I am African. Nigerian to be precise. I come from the Igbo speaking tribe of Nigeria :)…The Igbo people are known to be “conk” traditionalists. We have so much culture and as much as it just drives me crazy at how rigid and restrictive our cultures can be, it can be one of the most beautiful things to ever experience. I guess sometimes, it’s just relative 🙂

I find culinary taboos interesting and I find it exasperating that a lot of us are not culturally aware. We don’t pay attention to tradition anymore. I found out two years ago that History as a subject was banned from Nigerian schools for reasons I cannot really explain.

When you ban history from schools, how else are the Nigerian students supposed to learn and know simple things like taboos? Our ancestors have all gone to the great beyond and the remaining preservers of our culture have all passed on, so how are we supposed to learn these things if the lines of history have now been banned from being taught in Nigerian schools?

Back to the subject of taboos.

I remember once my father brought home some turtles and had them prepared for some pepper soup. My sister was home from the university and as usual and as a foodie, she wanted some, but my father quietly told her and me “women cannot eat turtles. It’s an abomination.” He really didn’t give a reason for this abomination. Although the turtle pepper soup looked delicious, I was too scared to touch it. Besides, my daddy’s words were too precious to me :). My sister on the other hand…O chim! she sneaked a bowl of the soup and ate it with all excitement. I honestly thought she would die oh, but she didn’t…Ngwanu! Wehldone daddy! Wehldone sir!

Apart from taboos being respected by our African traditional religion, Christians have also added theirs to the mix.

Once I was told by my former house fellowship leader not to eat cat fish, I wondered why because if I ever thought of not eating cat fish, it would be because of it’s place in the food chain as a burrower and it’s slimy nature.

Well, my house fellowship leader gave his reasons to be that cat fish were caught and used for sacrifices and incisions made on them with certain juju before they were released back into the water from whence they were caught.

Another thing was snails. Someone once told me that if I ate snails, I would move slowly in life because snails moved slowly. Fadaghad!

Continue reading →

Nigerian Goat Meat and Offal Pepper Soup(LazyChef Christmas)

Christmas is in the air and I am made to reminisce about my days of spending Christmas in the village. To my foreign readers, the village is simply the country side where my parents were born and raised.

Christmas in the village wasn’t always mandatory, but it was one of the most exciting times when it happened. Plus my parents thought it was an authentic way to introduce my siblings and I to our culture and extended family members.

My dad almost always had a goat or some chickens killed for the Christmas celebrations. And when my uncles were around, by tradition, they shared the offals, tails, and legs of the goat/chickens amongst themselves. Each family got their share of the meat according to how old they were i.e. by seniority.

After the goat was slaughtered, my cousins and brothers would dig a small hole or using an iron basin; they would make a make shift outside barbecue grill on which the butchered meats were roasted. Sometimes, they would even cook some offal pepper soup on the grill with scent leaves to boot. It was probably the most delicious pepper soup had I ever had. Maybe because it was done with my extended family around and with love. Oh! It was also Christmas so everything tasted amazing! 🙂

For this recipe, I tried it using two different methods. I did a slow cooked version in my crock pot and I did another easy  method on the stove top. The first time I tried the crock pot method, I was getting ready to go out with my ajebutters and I really needed the soup done at a particular time, so I threw everything into the crock pot and it was too good! It had this rich dark color, the flavors were intense and the meat was very tender.

Continue reading →

Suya and Coca-Cola Chicken (Lazychef Christmas)

Baby it’s cold outside…so we are having deliciously sweet and spicy wings for the win!

This recipe show me pepper eh!

Who would have thought that coca cola would be great with Nigerian recipes 🙂

The first time I made this chicken I followed a recipe which I had seen online. I tweaked the recipe and went to work on it. I was delicious, but it didn’t have the saucy coating I had wanted on it. I tried it once again, but the perfectionist in me just had to get it right. I kept trying to research(I’m sure google knows me by name now lol), but it all seemed complicated, so I decided to go back to the drawing board; yet it wasn’t quite clicking.

I brooded over not having the right recipe; then my ajebutter had to have surgey ; then I had to put it off again until sometime last week. I woke up early a few days after my ajebutter’s surgery and went right back to bed; then I woke back up and went into the kitchen. In between answering emails and messages, I whipped up everything. If you asked me how I did everything and down to the photo, I couldn’t tell you. I just blacked out and my hands just kept moving…what?! The only thing I remembered doing is praying and just asking God to help me as I dun too stress this thing and in the process of stressing, I asked God several times  “Is this was what you want me doing?” It was a moment where I thought I wasn’t doing too well and almost failed myself. For days like this, I thank God.

Continue reading →

Sautéed Chicken Drumsticks(Lazychef Christmas)

This Christmas, I am focusing on the simple. It’s been eventful leading to the holidays and I know that it gets that way for some households as well; hence my need for simple recipes.

I seem to have more chicken on the blog this year and that is because I am trying to make up for the lack of the turkey recipe I had initially promised.

I have had this recipe for a while and I posted a version on instagram and due to people asking me for it, I decided post it for Christmas. It’s fast, it’s easy and it’s chicken 🙂

Before sharing, I have to apologize as I do not have accurate measurements for this recipe. But accurate eye balling of each ingredient gives you a very delicious sautéed chicken. I promise, to do it over with measurements. My hands are just majorly full. There’s holiday ChinChin to be made, and my ajebutter is home for the entire week before holiday; hence my hands the full hands.

Continue reading →

AtaDinDin Fried Rice-Jollof Fried Rice(LazyChef Christmas)

img_6779

This is one of my favorite recipes this year! It’s like a redo of my Jollof fried rice recipe; only with the use of Atadindin. The  beauty of this recipe is that, you can make it with any spicy Nigerian stew. The beauty also lies in the combination of the spicy stew with basil. Ordinarily, if you have had Efirin/basil stew, you will know the deliciousness that it carries with it.

Last Fall, I made a new friend in Remmy. She’s a beautiful Lawyer (@elimavenue on instagram) with a flare for cooking. Not only does she have the most amazing recipes, but she shared this particular one with me.

The first time I made this fried rice, I wanted to share the recipe, but I felt like there was something missing. And now? It has been converted to this bowl of deliciousness.

img_6778When I was younger, my favorite left over was a stir fry made with stew and white rice. We never threw away food; even when food looked like it was going bad, my mother would try to revive it…sigh!

Growing up in Nigeria, Sundays were for rice and stew. Even until this day, my mother still calls every Sunday to make sure I make rice and stew for her grand children(my ajebutters). On Sunday afternoons, after lunch, my mother would save the left over stew and on Monday, she would boil some white rice and do a stir fry and adding the stew as the main base.

Like I said, for this recipe, I used Atadindin, but you could also use any stew of your choice.

Continue reading →

Beef Suya Koftas-Suya meatballs on a stick(LazyChef Christmas)

img_6597

The elections are over and I have been busy eating my feelings :). I’m not your typical feminist, but I believe in a world where women will one day preside over the affairs of men(not literally men, but humans) 🙂

Anyway, let’s talk about Christmas. Happy thoughts!

This Christmas, I have made a decision to focus on easy recipes.

I want my readers to be able to source for ingredients, cook in good time and have dinner ready in no time.

Not only is Christmas about the food, but it’s about spending quality time with family.

Continue reading →

Vegetable Fried Rice and Paprika Chicken(LazyChef Christmas)

img_6781

Growing up, if there was any traditional meal that featured once a year and during Christmas, it was my mother’s fried rice. We almost always started chopping the veggies early in the morning and by late afternoon Christmas food was ready.

For the life of me, I will never understand why cooking in Nigeria took forever while I was younger.

My mother always made her special fried rice with the trimmings. And every year mommy’s fried rice came with different trimmings.

This year, I’ll be making mom’s special Kidney bean fried rice which has now become my vegetable fried rice.

For me, the kidney beans played the role as the protein and meat. (see what I did there?)

Let me tell you guys something. I made this fried rice for my friend and until today, she keeps saying…”please make me that your fried rice, There’s this taste that I cannot explain and it keeps me wanting for more.” And I kept saying “it’s just cloves…” lol(I think cloves is known as Kanafuru in Nigeria).

Continue reading →

Spicy Nigerian Style Chicken Wings

img_6513

Let me tell you something o. Never say never!

Although I have recently seen a lot of Indian cooking using yogurt, the first time I saw a recipe with a yogurt based marinated chicken, it was on 9jafoodie’s website. I thought, “hmm wetin “pelsin” no go see.” (covers face)… Until I tried it and I was like “ewooo!”

I have tried this recipe several times with different chicken parts, but I have to say that this version is my favorite. I was making some scrub for my face with some turmeric and with the same yogurt and I thought to myself “sebi let me add this turmeric to this chicken?” I did and Nna ehn, I can’t even explain the feeling of the taste.

For this recipe, the balance of the spicy was quite important to me. Most of us love spicy foods, but it’s hard for one to enjoy any meal with a lot of pepper.

Continue reading →

Deconstructed Vegetable Soup and Uziza Crusted Fish (#worlddiabetesdayng)

img_6192

There is saying that African men can eat whatever they please.

What is diabetes? According to google. “It’s a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired; resulting in an abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.”

For the amount of rice we eat as Nigerians. It’s God who has been our strength.

Every 14th day in November, is diabetes awareness day. When I received the email from Atim of Afrolems.com to talk about diabetes, I didn’t even know where and how to start. It’s like you have a passion to educate people and as much as you want to do it, knowing where and how to start is like huge deal.

Anyway, I’ll start by explaining the different types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is the type of diabetes that is genetically transferred. It is a condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. This condition cannot be cured but it can be controlled by diet and treatment. This condition typically appears during adolescent years and though it’s symptoms may vary and it includes increased thirst, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue, and blurred vision. It’s treatment aims at maintaining a normal blood sugar level through regular monitoring, insulin therapy, diet, and exercise.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose). It’s treatable by a medical professional and requires a medical diagnosis. It can last for years or be lifelong; depending on how well you take care of yourself. With type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin, or it resists insulin. Symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, hunger, fatigue, and blurred vision. In some cases, there may be no symptoms. Treatment include diet, exercise, medication, and insulin therapy.

According to my understanding, for a control or cure of the disease of diabetes, the patient is placed on a low carb and low sugar diet; depending on the type of diabetes and how these foods affects their blood sugar. For a break down of diet for diabetic patients, you have to see a dietician or your general health care professional.

Continue reading →

Green Tomato and Scent Leaf Stew

img_5846

This recipe just like every other recipe I develop, is very special to me. Long post alert though 🙂

I was testing recipes this week and while I was shopping for the ingredients at the farmer’s market, I saw a lady digging underneath the table that had the display of fresh plum tomatoes. I wondered what she was doing; then I decided to look with her. Underneath this display table was a box of tomatoes. I don’t know why I was immediately thrilled because I went ahead and bought all the green ones. On getting home, I realized I really had no plans for the tomatoes. Then I thought ayamase stew but done with tomatoes instead of pepper.

You know the funny thing about all this, after posting the photo and talking about it on my social media pages, I got some reviews from people who said that this was how their grand parents or parents cooked stew…This goes to show that not all recipes are really new. Someone somewhere in this parallel universe has tried something we are probably testing for the first time.

Before I share this recipe, I want to share something that has always been in my heart to share. I shared it on my Facebook and Instagram pages respectively, but I feel I ought to share it here for those who haven’t seen it before. Before I continue, I’d like to first share what someone asked me about me sharing stories like these. Recently, I posted a photo with the following typed into it “Travel and tell no one. Live a true love story and tell no one. Live happily and tell no one. People ruin beautiful things.”  And in my opinion, no truer words have ever been spoken. I am of the school of thought that, I must keep some precious things that has happened to me to myself. I am a very private person…But when it comes to things people can relate to like “Depression” I never keep it to myself. There are some beautiful things that have happened to me that I must keep to myself. Not everyone will understand your journey. I don’t know how else I can explain this. But here it goes…And below was my Facebook post…

I have been wanting to tell this story for a while, but each time I get to type it, I delete it. Not because I am ashamed, but because it may be too much for some.

I have suffered depression before. It got so bad that I attempted suicide three times.

The first time I attempted suicide, I drank an 8oz cup of cleaning supplies, but nothing happened to me. I was pregnant at the time, but I didn’t know. Poor baby, God kept her….

The second time, I took a whole bottle of pain pills. I was done, nothing meant anything to me. I had my baby, but I forgot that she was in the bed room. See the thing depression does to you. It makes you forget the good things life has to offer and you focus on the bad.

My baby was sleeping in her play mat on the floor. I was struggling with my thoughts; while she slept quietly and peacefully. I forgot! I took the pills and I began to crash. Minutes later I heard my baby cry. Then it clicked! Who will feed her? She only liked my breast milk…I grabbed the phone and hours later I found myself in the hospital and placed under suicide watch. I got free counselling and I got better with time.

The third time, I relapsed and when I found out I was pregnant with ajebutter 2, it got worse. I almost jumped off a three story building, but baby girl called out “mommy I’m hungry!” See I was in a very bad place…I was lied to, I felt used and even after having my boy my relationship with him suffered for a while…Now he’s my everything

One thing that escalated depression for me was the trivial way with which people close to me disregarded my cry for help. I felt invisible and I plunged into the mess and became suicidal.

Africans suffer depression, we don’t just pay attention to it and we have our ways of dealing with it, but at some point I couldn’t deal…To those who say they want my life, I smile and ask them “can you wear my shoes?” You can’t go about wishing you were someone when you don’t know what they went through to get to where they are…or what they’re currently going through…
Who no go no know.

PS: This short story isn’t for you guys to feel sorry for me. It’s for you to know that I have been broken in pieces before.

But like a Phoenix…I rise …

Who ever this inspires…

img_5831

 

Back to the recipe. This is a very simple stew with the major seasoning as ogiri/ogili okpei. I’m a firm believer and a lover of all things okpei. Okpei is a local and natural Nigerian seasoning. A little of it goes a very long way.

img_4428-2If you use iru or dawa dawa,  it’s kind of like the same concept, but it’s flavor is much intense; especially when toasted before use.

I’m a believer in local recipes and this stew is one of my most recipes enjoyed at home.

It’s time to cook…

 

Green Tomato and Scent Leaf Stew
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 9

Ingredients
  • 1½lb cooked chicken or any meat
  • 8 plum green tomatoes
  • 3 Ose Nsukka(habanero)
  • 1 red bell pepper(tatase)(optional)
  • 1½ small onion
  • 3 small garlic cloves(optional)
  • ½-1 piece ogili okpei(use cray fish as a substitute)
  • 1 handful scent leaf(sliced)(use basil as a substitute)
  • 1 cooking spoon palm oil
  • ¼ cup cooking oil
  • 2½ cups meat stock
  • bouillon(optional)
  • salt(optional)

Instructions
  1. Blend the tomatoes, garlic, bell pepper, Ose and 1 onion and pour through a fine mesh sieve to drain out the excess water.
  2. Meanwhile, thinly slice the onion and set aside; then slightly toast the ogili on an open flame just until you can smell it a little(do not burn). Or you can toast it in an empty pot. Just place the pot over medium heat, place the ogili into the pot and toss a few times until you can smell it a little. You could also skip this step…
  3. Heat the palm oil until very hot; then add the other oil and the onion. Sauté until the onion is translucent; then add the ogili(or crayfish if using) and fry it for a few minutes. Add the tomato blend and stir to combine with the oil. Add the meat stock(make sure you eye ball how much water you use) and cover with a lid to cook. Once the oil begins to seep to the top of the stew, add the cooked chicken and cook until the oil has floated to the top. Add the scent leaves and cook for another 3 minutes before serving with any side.