Food Is Bae and Family Is Everything…A Short story

I grew up in the midst of brothers, some who knew how to cook and some who did not. Even my father was an awesome cook, but for some reason they relied on me to cook for them. Funny thing is, I found cooking annoying. Funny how I’m a food blogger now. Below is a story written by Zainab Bonomi and I’m proudly her friend.

“My entire body was on fire, I was aching. My feet were numb; my back felt like it was going to break in two. Yet, I had to keep going, because they were hungry…

I had been away from the house for a few days. I had travelled for work and there was no one in my section of the house. You know what that meant…. There was going to be a lot of cleaning; dusting, sweeping, mopping and more cleaning to be done. The living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom all needed cleaning. Did I mention I travelled for work? Okay so you get the jist, yeah? I had been busy throughout.

One of my younger brothers had driven me to and fro, thankfully. Even though driving for me is a stress reliever and mind refresher. I did not sleep a wink during the trip, a five hour journey. On getting home, I changed into “housework friendly” clothes and began with the cleaning. I did not even bother about food. Who could eat in that chaotic environment? It was dusty all over; a sort of indoor Sahara. I was done in just under two hours, but mehn I was aching all over. I could barely talk. I still didn’t bother about food. I just lay down on the couch, too tired for sleep or anything for that matter. That was when it started…

My two younger brothers came in, extremely hungry. The one that had driven me, well I think he went out to meet a client when we returned; he is an architect you see. I don’t remember if he cleaned out his room that evening, or he left it for the next day. His older brother leaves home quite early and returns late. That was the nature of his job, he is a site engineer for some company and his work was demanding. At first they were complaining between themselves. I heard them, I ignored them. They began complaining to me, I still ignored, I was too exhausted to even talk. They couldn’t stand it any longer, so they called me by name; a pet name they coined for me and by which those close to me call me by. The older one called that name and said: “we are hungry, please do something”. I could understand his situation, his younger brother’s too. How couldn’t I? They are my flesh and blood afterall… and they were hungry!

To be honest I still can’t tell where I got the strength, but I sprang to my feet immediately, forgetting my own predicament and rushed to the kitchen. I had no idea what I was going to prepare, there wasn’t much in the house. I had to do something, my babies were hungry. It’s not that they don’t know how to cook, they both possess culinary skills, but I suppose they forgot it all, probably due to the hunger and exhaustion dealing with them, or perhaps because there weren’t any vegetables in the house. All we had were raw foodstuff and perhaps vegetable oil.

Well I’m a woman, one who has inherited culinary creativity from the best, my mother. I put those skills to use that day, to save us all from starving to further exhaustion.

I pre-boiled some rice, got little oil in the pan and then remembered I had dry fish stashed somewhere, hidden far from sight so Alvin the cat couldn’t get to it. We never run out of spices in the house…. well our mum is a mistress in the art of spice mix. A little cardamom, a little cinnamon and mummy’s specially made curry powder spiced up our meal of rice stir fry… I’ll call it that, because I’m not sure if it qualifies for fried rice. I still don’t know how I managed to come up with that recipe, I wonder how I wasn’t too tired to think. Looking back however, I’m glad of what I did because of love. Love for my family. Those are little sacrifices we make to put smiles on the faces of our loved ones.

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Ayamase Roti…The Versatility Of Nigerian Food

If there was any recipe I wanted to share so bad, it is this one. When you hear Ayamase Roti what comes to mind?

This is just simply Ayamase loaded with deliciously cooked, tender meat and soft potatoes wrapped in a flat bread.

when you think of a Roti, you’re probably thinking Indian food. When I first heard of this recipe from my friend Remmy (@elimavenue on Instagram), I was like “hmmm Ayamase sauce in a Roti? I thought about how I was going to slather a Roti with stew and meat; only for her to say the word “add potatoes!” Crazy right? Well, crazy good! Imagine all your soft and tender meat with Iru in tow; all in a Roti. In fact this Roti will replace white rice in my life :).

One thing I want to do for this world, is to introduce as many people as I can to Nigerian food. I can confidently say you have not really lived until you have had Nigerian food. Not to talk of fusing Nigerian food with dishes from other countries? Epic!

I like the idea of using a Roti in this recipe, but if you cannot find or make any, you may use a burrito/taco wrap. same difference?

Gone are the days of Shwarma and ice cream. We are moving on to hip stuff like Ayamase Roti and ice cream. The deliciousness that this meal actually is.

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Size Matters: That damb Fried Red Snapper at Bukom Café, DC

I haven’t written anything in a while. I guess I fell into a rot and couldn’t muster any energy to write. Doing this is my passion, it’s basically my life and not being able to even share any stories or recipes was a little difficult on me.

The sun’s began peeking through, and so has some extra greenbacks…therefore a well-deserved break was on the cards, and of course it had to be a visit to the historic city that is Washington DC, home of the President and his side boo Olivia Pope…did you think I meant… moving on!
So DC it was, and of course I had to do a couple of restaurant reviews too, otherwise my taste buds, blog and you guys would not forgive me!

In Africa we say: “you eat with your eyes, before your hands.” But the current version of that is “you eat with our cursor before your hands,” so while planning my trip, I did a search on the Internet, and found Bukom Café. From the pictures alone online and on to their Instagram page? I ate a few thousand calories with my eyes before the day came to try their food with these lips!

Bukom, sits right in the heart of Adams Morgan, and is owned by a Nigerian/Ghanaian couple with a bar pretty much ran by their two older sons. Bukom offers a variety of West African food along with live music; which I didn’t stay long enough to listen to. Because it is best to relapse into a post-food coma in bed, with Wizkid’s Pakurumo playing loudly. Ahhh…where was I?

So truth be told? My first impression about Bukom was not so pleasant. I had just gotten off a two-hour flight, I was too tired and congested to even bother with the pretzels and soft drinks being served in the plane. My seat neighbor seemed very unprepared for a conversation, so was I. So leaned back, secretly rejoiced, opened my book and dozed off; only to be awoken by the plane landing almost directly on water…Beautiful as it may seem, fear nearly make me piss for body. My mother always says “we don’t have any river or stream in our village, so stay away from water.” That one advice replayed in my head as we made to land. Ike gwuru!

Fast forward to 3pm in the afternoon, I made a call out to Bukom, but there was no answer. On checking their website, it said they opened at 4pm. We got to the restaurant well past 4pm and in the biting cold, we had to stand outside and keep knocking the door.  Lo and behold, these people were not open. The first thing that came to my mind was “these people dun carry their Nigerian selves come show for here.” For a popular restaurant especially in the area where it’s located, opening at the time mentioned should be P.R.I.O.RI.T.Y!

Finally, the restaurant opened. On walking into the restaurant, the bartender/server just acted like nothing just happened and it took my tour guide to say something for us to get an “oh by the way…sorry for opening late.” It was as if it was the usual.

At first blush, Bukom looks pretty much like a regular Nigerian Buka. The only things that stood out to me were the photos of Mariam Makeba and Fela on the wall, nicely complemented with Asa blasting from the speakers. Although the pictures looked beautiful, they looked a little out of place, it would have gone with a more upscale look.

The bar was unique; not your  usual bar, as the drinks were all on display, but some what tastefully done, I’ll have to say.

Some things Africans restaurateurs fail to pay attention to is the ambience, furniture and bathrooms in their establishment. Gosh, that is like a pretty girl with great make up, nice hair but bad breath. How are people expected to get close enough for a kiss? How are diners expected to remain patrons? Seriously…we treat our restaurants like a regular road side, make shift shack. Nothing wrong with shacks oh! In fact, na their food dey sweet pass so they more than make up for it! But if you’re going to open a restaurant in the heart of the a beautiful city, let it look like you put some effort into it. Or else let the food be so good I disown my “standards” and keep going back like Rob Kardashian keeps going back to Black Chyna! On this note, I actually started humming “Bokum better have some great food” to the tune of Rihanna’s BBHM at this point.

Luckily,  the bartender/server warmed up to us pretty quickly and took our orders politely while engaging us in very informative conversations. For me, I love me some Mojitos, but due to the lack of it,  I ordered a “sex on the beach.” Please get your various minds out of the gutter! You said? Well…yeah it’s a drink that actually tastes and feels like sex on the beach…Not that I’ve ever tried it…Ahem!
My tour guide ordered a bottle of red wine, and all this was served promptly.
For my plate, I ordered the fried Red Snapper and some jollof rice, golden fried plantains and a side salad. My tour guide got the Aflao Salmon, jollof rice and plantains. The Aflao Salmon was described as “Chunks of fresh cut salmon mixed with spinach and African spices to give the utmost taste and satisfaction. Served with your choice of pounded yam, fufu or rice.” The food came promptly too and let’s say it was gone fast and not due to hunger, more like my tour guide enjoyed every bit.
 For my plate, I probably had an orgasm at the sight of the size of the fish…Not that size matters here, but that fish was huge and well fried. It was crispy on the outside and oh-so-moist on the inside. The fish came with a pepper sauce but, I really didn’t need it. I ate every bit and if I could have eaten the bones, I really would have. Eating that fish was like good sex…gosh! For the jollof rice, hmmm what can I say. It really looked like Ghana Jollof(oya sorry!) But that was not Nigerian jollof rice. I tasted good, but it wasn’t “The Jollof.”

We loved the first meal that we followed this with some Stewed Goat Meat and I really liked it. The meat was so soft they melded well with the well-cooked tomato stew.

For the plantains, my only issue with it was that it was not enough. I had to dip my fork into my tour guide’s plate just to have more. Don’t judge me; a girl can never have too many shoes, fried plantains and handbags. The plantains though fried, were soft and cooked through on the inside. I love soft dodo!  🙂

My favorite parts were the drinks, plantains and fish. And that sex on the beach was  a party in my mouth!

But the fish was the main draw…because I did a second visit to Bukom the very next day because of that fish y’all! The fish was smaller this time, but still good.  My meal the next day was very simple. I ordered the fried red snapper, a side of stew and I swapped my salad for more plantains. My tour guide had Jollof Rice, some Egusi and spinach stew laced with goat meat and oh dear! I really liked the sauce.

The only thing I didn’t like about my second visit was the insistence of the tip. The server already had the tip included in the check. It would have been nice if this was just left for us to decide on how much to pay as a tip.

Overall, it would be nice to find an upscale African restaurant; okay middle scale. Because though the food was good, the prices did not match the environment. When you walk into a restaurant, you’re not just paying for the food and that should be taken into consideration.

Bukom caters to people from all walks of life. A gold mine I’d say. Change the ambience, get a bigger stage for the live music, replace the furniture and leave the tip to the tippers abeg!

meanwhile…let’s Just say if Bukom were a guy? He’d be that rough-looking but actually sweet-natured dude who errrm feeds you so well you’d keep going back for more. 😉

The Biafran War and The Act Of Survival

Working on this post was one of the most emotional things I have ever had to do and I am not a very emotional person per say. I love to build relationships and I am usually attached to the people close to me…oh I digress.
The Biafran war was a civil war fought between the Nigerian soldiers and the Igbo(eastern) soldiers led by Odimegwu Ojukwu in order to prevent the secession of Biafra from Nigeria. This war lasted from the year 1967-1970…And this is me not wanting to go into the whole sad tale. Although we can pretend that Biafra never happened, it’s just story for another day.

Odimegwu Ojukwu in Nigerian military uniform.

During the war, there was severe starvation due to food supply being cut off to the eastern states. People became hungry, children became very malnourished and parents had to find a solution to their dilemma. Hunger became a usual affair…from the 9 year old clutching on to an empty corned beef can to the starving child holding on to nothing but an empty plate with the mother struggling to breastfeed her child; even with very little breast milk being produced. Those were the dark times…

image gotten from

image gotten from

My father was a prisoner of war. He was imprisoned by the Biafran soldiers as a result of an accusation made against him. My father was accused of supplying the Nigerian soldiers oil/fuel. Come to think of it, my late father had always worked in the oil and gas industry. Before his passing, he was a Petrochemical engr. As a matter of fact, he had a master’s degree in Petrchemical engineering. And folks when I say oil and gas, I don’t mean the non existent ones that them Yoruba demons deceive girls with…I kid 😜

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Valentine Special…Aphrodisiacs and Peppered Snails

February 14th! It’s that time of the year again and love is in the air (tongue out, back in cheek). Not only is it Valentine’s, but it’s also my second bloggoversary. Yep! This means my blog – is two years old.

I am so so grateful for this path – one which chose me, and continues to choose me, one meal at a time. So, for as long as I am able to eat, I will continue to cook, write and talk about food in the “funnest” way possible. To be repeatedly recognised by CNN, Ventures Africa and people from all walks of life is an added privilege that always leaves me…erm…can you tell that I am short of words? Yes, I am.

Okay… *cuts the lone violin strings churning sob stories and…*

Fast forward to my main purpose for today…Aphrodisiacs, peppered snails and erm congo shining!

An aphrodisiac is any food, drink, or even a fruit that stimulates sexual desire or libido in men or women.

It’s almost a taboo amongst Africans to talk about sex and libidos; even more so when one tries to converse about “shining the congo,” aka the very act of intercourse.

There’s this belief that bedroom issues or talk, must remain in the bedroom and between married couples.

But all is fair in love and food so…on this post, I’ll be touching lightly on some staples in the typical African pantry that can help stimulate sexual excitement.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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AtaDinDin Fried Rice-Jollof Fried Rice(LazyChef Christmas)


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.

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