I’m such a huge fan of Nigerian food. I’m one of those people who think that the entire world should be fans of Nigerian food too. If I had a few million dollars today, one thing I’d definitely set up is a Nigerian food chain. There’s no way it wouldn’t succeed – Nigerians love their food. And even non-Nigerians often take a liking to it.
Food brings us together in more ways than one. And I’ve heard incredible stories about people’s love for Nigerian food that honestly just makes me gasp! From missing flights due to food, to travelling with packed dishes of frozen stews and soup. I’ve also seen so many Nigerians make food such a big deal in their lives that even I, the foodie, actually wonders if it isn’t just food.
I’m not sure whether I love Nigerian food so much only because that’s mostly what I’ve been exposed to – at least for the first 24 years or so of my life. I remember leaving Nigeria for the first time and sincerely wondering how I’d survive – thankfully, I passed through immigration hitch free with a suitcase full of the essentials. And even before I left the shores of Nigeria for Cambridge I had asked for the African food store, and it was one of the first places I set my foot into. Similarly when we moved to a new city, one of the first questions I asked was where can we buy plantain and yam? It was so funny when a new family recently moved to our city and asked us the same question!
Despite my profession of undying love above, the line is often drawn when it comes to actually preparing these foods. I mean, you really do ask yourself if a three hour time in the kitchen is really worth all of the stress – for the food that will be gobbled down in 30 minutes or less. If someone else is cooking, then by all means, yes.
But growing up, it didn’t seem worth it, and I’ll rather lay hungry on my bed than have to prepare food. Oh the gruelling tasks, some of which I very thankfully escaped, leaving my younger sisters to sort those out – somewhat to their disdain.
Well, being married now (with no younger sisters available) and still very much in love with Nigerian food, I have no choice but to make them! But ain’t no way I’m spending more time than necessary in the kitchen. And thanks to social media, Nigerian food bloggers are doing incredibly well in sharing all of their hacks, tips, and seriously plugging in the need for a new Nigerian food movement – obviously without comprising on the taste, quality or essence of the food it appears. So let’s see what some of my fave hacks are. You can probably relate with all of them
1. Picking and Peeling Beans
I remember one of the few times I felt incompetent in relation to cooking. My siblings and I had to spend the weekend at our cousins’ as my parents were out of town. Quite early in the morning, my aunt pretty much set a bowl of beans in water before me and asked me to wash it clean, ready to be ground into a paste for some Akara to be made. I think hot tears nearly went down my face. I’d never ever done it before. And although I’d seen people do and had a fair idea of the mechanics, it just seemed like one of those gruelling unnecessary tasks – one which my mum had thankfully always done herself. I made an attempt, but it didn’t take long for my aunt to see that I wasn’t going to make any headway, and took the bowl away. In fairness, the process of actually peeling the beans could take less than half an hour – if you know exactly want to do.
Fast forward a few years later, I was spending the afternoon at Tee’s house and I peeled a bowl of the most perfect beans ever. The intention is to remove the brown skin, and there was not one piece of brown skin left. It was so good I had to take a picture, before proceeding to cook one of the most delicious Moi Moi I have ever tasted. Like the Yoruba people would say this Moi Moi truly ‘had seven lives‘ – filled with egg, fish, prawns, corned beef! Maybe I need that just to redeem myself in my mind, because I have had no desire to do that again.
So my hack for this is three fold:
The beans in a lot of water and the knife blade of the machines cause the beans to rub against each other mimicking the option of actually rubbing them against our palms as in the manual washing. As in the manual system, you will have to clean out the brown skin filled water a couple of times. I’ve tried this loads of times, and while it’s a great hack – the process of replacing the water from the food processor could be a bit annoying. I stumbled upon this from food blogger – Dooneys Kitchen.
This is one which has been simply peeled and dried. There are so many things we buy that are already packaged to a degree, so why not beans? My friend introduced me to this, when she saw me showing off my number i hack above on Instagram stories. Trust me, if you can, this is a good one. When you place the beans in water, it still gives off that fresh aroma of beans and doesn’t feel processed at all.
Well, if you’re extremely time conscious – with no time to simply blend the already peeled one in number ii, then you can use beans flour, dried and ground already. I’ll be honest – I’m not a huge fan, as it just feels over processed. But at least it’s an option.
In making Moi Moi, we probably all agree that it’s best in the green Moi Moi leaves (Uma Leaves). Another thing I cannot do till today is perfectly wrap those leaves. I should redeem myself soon. But in place of the leaves, it’s super easy to use ramekins, foil plates or baking trays, and bake these in the oven. With baking trays you save a lot of time and make a huge one rather than a lot of smaller ones.
2. Jollof rice in no time
First off, I was disappointed that when typing this post, my computer kept changing Jollof to Jolly! Like how can that word not be in the dictionary yet. When I speak to non Nigerians about food, I simply say Jollof not bothering to explain, because surely, they know what it is right?
It’s interesting to see how Jollof has suddenly become a huge deal. Remember the Jamie Oliver scandal? I’d always preferred the Nigerian fried rice, but now – it’s a tough battle. And perhaps I preferred this because my Jollof wasn’t always great. As Tee confirmed in this Husband Tag post, my Jollof is pretty good on any given day (touch wood!).
This past weekend, after a long day I was famished and really wanted some Jollof rice. In pretty much less than half an hour, I was well on the way to having some freshly cooked one. Tee had to remark “you really have this process down to a T don’t you?”
Well, my hack which I got from food blogger, 9ja Foodie is – no need to parboil the rice. I know some people are rolling their eyes thinking of all the extra starch content. Well the ball is in your court. But yes, I simply rinse the rice and pour into the already cooking tomato paste. Easy peasy.
This second one is not so much a hack, I think and probably everyone already knows of it – as I saw it on one of these international 30 seconds food preparation video. It’s simply putting a foil over the pot while cooking it, before placing the lid. I think this just lets the rice cook or steam better, with all the flavour being retained.
3. Perfect Nigerian Stew
A lot of Nigerian food involves a blended mix of tomato, chilli peppers, and red bell peppers. And in this time, when a lot of people are cutting down on palm oil – they refer to this mix for an alternative rich red colour.
The first time I saw a friend use a grinding stone to actually crush the tomato and pepper, I though she was genuinely being punished by her parents. But apparently the older generation preferred it that way. Sigh. These days, many people simply use a blender. But what I’ve found is that this still retains so much water in the vegetables that you then have to dry out by cooking for a while, to get a rich paste.
The hack? Simply place all of the items to be blended in a baking plan and roast in the oven for about 30 – 40 mins. The effect of this is two fold: It dries out any excess water and it actually adds a bit of smokey flavour to it. So once blended, you already have a rich paste – no extra time wasted drying out! Saw this from 9ja Foodie, and I think i’ve also seen Kitchen Butterfly do it as well.
iv. Pounded Yam anytime
I had actually never eaten as much pounded yam in my entire life as I have eaten in the past 2 – 3 years. Pounded yam, was one we never tried out at home to be eaten as a meal. I think even my mum drew the line at that kind of task, and she would only pound very little to be used as a thickening agent for Igbo soups such as Oha, Nsala (white soup) and Onugbu (Bitter leaf soup). Many of my friends also say that the yam pounding was often left to their brothers, as it required major physical energy.
But fresh pounded yam is such a delicacy. And like processed beans flour, I have never really been a fan of processed yam flour, and so never really bothered.
But then I stumbled on this hack from Dooneys Kitchen again and literally I’m able to have fresh pounded yam in 20 minutes!
It’s simply to use a food processor – not the knife blade this time, but the dough blade. So you’d have to boil your yam as normal (without salt) till it’s slightly soft, place in the food processor and use the dough blade – which whips it up perfectly. If you think about it, it makes sense using the same mechanism the dough blade is able to make a round ball of flour dough.
That’s pretty much it for specifics. But one general hack is to invest in a food processor with multi attachments! When we got married, it was definitely one of the first kitchen equipments I got. The knife blade helps in chopping leafy vegetables, okro and a bunch of other things. The various grating blades help with grating carrots, and cabbage for salad or coleslaw literally in a jiffy – which I’m so thankful for, as chopping vegetables with a knife is really not one of my favourite tasks!
And that’s it. Are you a fan of Nigerian food? Share your favourite hacks and tricks that make it all easier (or if you’d rather stick with the traditional methods!), and oh please share your interesting food stories.
pS: The above photo is courtesy of Kitchen Butterfly and she’s hosting an amazing Jollof Festival this weekend (Friday the 18th of August – Sunday the 20th) It’s left me drooling and just think of all the amazing kinds and flavours of Jollof you’ve never experienced. If you’re in Lagos, you should go. Find out more info here!
DamiAugust 16, 2017 at 09:32
Kachi Kachi. This amazing but you need to edit this post and put a link to the perfect buy for a food processor. Never knew it had this much benefits
Kachee || KacheeTee.comAugust 16, 2017 at 13:50
It’s amazing! I”ll edit the post to include the link.
abiMay 10, 2018 at 11:56
Kachee yes please to that food processor link o! side note: I’m going to have to make jolloff now after reading this!
DemiladeAugust 16, 2017 at 10:41
Reading this made me so hungry gosh. The hack for stew is so genius. I personally detest having to boil the pepper for a while after blending as it makes the stew process so much longer. Will definitely be using that hack. And yes to covering with foil, my aunt does that and it really works. Funny enough, we’ve got a food processor but we’ve never used it. I’ll bring it out today haha. Really helpful post Kachee. xxCoco Bella Blog
'DaraAugust 16, 2017 at 12:37
Reading these, I couldn’t but help think of how life has been made easier for us. No need to spend hours in the kitchen cooking a food that you would already have been too tired to eat by the time it’s done. Thank you for the hacks Kachi. What food processor do you use? I think it’s a ‘must-buy’
Grace SmartAugust 16, 2017 at 12:49
This is pretty cool. I learnt of the food processor making pounded yam from sisyemmie. You should interview her or have you? I also do not parboil my rice. I never knew people parboil their rice for jollof till recently. Lolwww.liveinibadan.blogspot.com
Kachee || KacheeTee.comAugust 16, 2017 at 13:50
Yes I think Sisi Yemie does it as all – and indeed I have interviewed her on the blog before! Here’s the link if you missed it – http://www.kacheetee.com/bl…
KelechiAugust 16, 2017 at 14:07
This is amazing! I’m about to try out these hacks. Man! Need a food processor in my life!
JamilaAugust 16, 2017 at 15:36
This might sound weird but I actually make my moi moi without peeling the skin off it… I figured “what’s the harm in eating the skin?” After all, it is a great source of fibre. So I’ve been taking the lazy route and it still tastes delicious plus there’s not much of a difference in the way the finished product turns out! – http://www.jamilakyari.com
Kachee || KacheeTee.comAugust 16, 2017 at 15:37
Actually, maybe not too weird! Because 9ja Foodie shared how to make Akara without the skin. Can’t recall if she did it for Moi Moi too. I just might try it. Thanks for sharing. Xx
AtinukeAugust 16, 2017 at 17:10
My dad prefers not peeling the brown skin off the beans, he believes that’s the whole essence of “beans”, lol, and so we just make moimoi that way, I think I prefer it to peeling it off. I don’t parboil rice too, I just pour it right in! Hmm Pounded yam, we have this machine that does all the work and it’s usually very hot compared to pounding manually and then it’s cold before you even scoop it out of the mortal. Interesting tips, Kachee! Thanks for sharing.tinukeawe.wordpress.com
KezzygraceAugust 17, 2017 at 06:56
This is too awesome.I’m so trying out the beans hack; that beans washing thing is a pinishment and African mothers enjoy sitting down while instructing you to wash away the beans till its pure white…Thank you Kachee this is a life saver.Pls is there an hack to Cutting yam without it itching??? 😢😢😢www.kezzygrace.com
Desire UbaAugust 17, 2017 at 20:33
This was actually really helpful, especially the pounded yam hack. Reading through the comments just makes me wonder why we really ‘peel’ the beans. Does it really make a difference? Pounded yam was never really a thing in my house, but with the amount of hype surrounding it, I should give it a go…but it must be homemade oh, because the story about how people pounding yam in eat-out places get sweaty and decide to incorporate the body fluid as an ingredient makes me cringe so bad (whether the stories are true or false).Major food hacks I really know is that marinading (hope I got this term right) meat overnight is just amazing for flavour and ‘Semo’ is great as a thickener for soups and sauces
SkyAugust 18, 2017 at 13:31
Looking for a hack for picking beans. A friend of mine soaks the beans in water for some minutes, the pods and other stuff floats to the top and she scoops them off. I HATE that technique because what about stones and other dirt that doesn’t float? ugh.I keep wanting to try that foil-over-rice thing but i always forget.Review: Maybelline Super Stay 24h Foundation
Kachee || KacheeTee.comAugust 18, 2017 at 13:34
I actually hate that method too because you can’t get all the dirt off that way – although I’ve seen a couple of good bloggers do it like that. I still pick though. But these days I’m much much quicker so it doesn’t feel so stressful. And I can pick it while watching TV or doing something else. Also helps to buy beans from sellers who sell the somewhat clean kind.
AishaAugust 18, 2017 at 23:41
My sister bought the food processor some months back and it’s been a lifesaver! Makes everything easier and we buy peeled beans for moin moin since a family told us about it. I don’t get why people parboil rice though especially if you’re already buying the parboiled bag, at least they claim it’s parboiled. LolI should try the hack for stew that’s such a long thing!
Kachee || KacheeTee.comAugust 28, 2017 at 22:26
They claim the rice is parboiled oh, but some people say there’s still so much starch in it. If I’m having it as white rice, I still parboil it though!
Ufedo LoveAugust 22, 2017 at 12:25
The beans peeling has left me looking at making moi moi and beans soup with side eye…if I peel it successfully in the blender, how about separating the skin from the beans, that’s still plenty work to me.I tried using my blender for the pounded yam thingy and I blew up two blenders and a smoothie maker! but I am yet to try with a food processor since I do not have one… but my mixer has dough hook too…hmmm! maybe I should try that one, hopefully it does not blow up too. off to try another experiment in my cooking lab. fingers crossed…memoirsofayoungwifeandmothe…
DeeAugust 23, 2017 at 18:51
I need to try that Stew hack soon!
Kachee || KacheeTee.comAugust 28, 2017 at 22:25
It’s actually awesome!
Mary-AnneAugust 24, 2017 at 14:33
I like to cook but I like to eat more than I like to prep and make meals. After reading this, I feel like eating jollof rice now 😱😳… Seems like getting a good brand food processor is the way to go.
AbbyAugust 26, 2017 at 16:04
I just realised I’ve actually never made jollof rice. LOL and I’m a poundo yam snob too if its not pounded no way I’m eating it. Its just mehhh. Gosh picking beans is such a time wasting activity, praises going up for the opportunity to buy it already picked. PheewWhen I decide to stop making all forms of porridge and efo riro for work lunch I’ll be back to learn these hacks.😂😂
Kachee || KacheeTee.comAugust 28, 2017 at 22:25
Abby, you’ve never made Jollof Rice? How! LolYou think you c an tell the difference between it being pounded and from a food processor? Lol!
AbbyAugust 29, 2017 at 16:26
Lol if I ever did, it most likely was not memorable enough for me to remember!I’m one of those people that always picked fried rice over jollof growing up.Haha. I’m yet to try out food processor version. Will be back to answer when I do
TolaSeptember 6, 2017 at 19:26
One hack i have found useful when I’m cooking beans ( not for making moi moi, just good ol Saturday morning beans lol ) is to put it in a large bowl of water and you just watch the dirt float. I learnt this from one of my friends when she said they don’t pick beans at home. I was skeptical to try it but it’s actually a life saver when you don’t have time! The only disadvantage is that the stones will not float ( but thank Goodness I haven’t cracked any tooth)
Kachee || KacheeTee.comSeptember 6, 2017 at 19:31
I actually used to do this too, but had a few bad stone experiences. So I stopped and just pick. But if you’ve got relatively stone free batch and in a hurry, it’s a great one!
Dooshima Dapo-OyewoleApril 3, 2018 at 12:22
Great Hacks! Re: Beans…just discovered a moi-moi recipe that makes life so easy for us abroad..used red lentils! Tried it last Friday..and I’m hooked..taste..texture..look..10/10 used this recipe..hope it helps…Diaspora cooking hacks! https://www.youtube.com/wat…
Kachee || KacheeTee.comMay 8, 2018 at 23:11
Thank you for this! I’ve been meaning to try lentils.