Quite simply one of the most popular food pairing/combo in the entire Nigerian cuisine pantry. Beans and plantain offer a really nutritionally balanced and great tasting dish. 

I love the simplicity and frugality of this combo and whether you like your beans all well mashed up, cooked plain with added pepper sauce or stewed in a thin sauce, it always catches my attention.

Here I share one of my earliest well presented beans and dodo dish, encouraging you to try some out this weekend....

See a full recipes of my popular beans and dodo dishes

Truth be told, I do sometimes resent having to labour over the stove for guests, especially those ones that did not give you enough notice that they are come...and as always, they want to be treated to your usual signature dishes...!

So I keep coming up with loads of different food ideas which can rescue me from this sorts of sticky situations.

The recipe I am sharing today is one of them. Very simple and straight forward dish with little effort, and requires no elaborate ingredients.

I have now grown to love my fish mongers at the Ozumba Mbadiwe Victoria Island (under the bridge) fish market in Lagos. The size of the prawns I get from there is huge, I mean, really huge. Still, they come in different sizes, and I kid you not, when cooked and curled up, some of the prawns can be as big as the circle you make with your index finger and your thumb...!

So this my quick starter, prawns and dodo dish, when served with some wine, cocktails, mock-tails or just a delicious blend of fruit juices, is really satisfying. Serving with some fruit salad or a nice crisp salad, you will be absolutely fully satisfied,,,,no you wont need anything else but to put the movies on, of just commence our "gisting" spree...!

It tastes delicious every time, not requiring too much condiments to bring out the tastes. It just needs careful preparation to ensure the prawns and plantain have the right texture, and careful plating to create that wow factor for your guests. Excellent served as a starter, canapes, finger foods or even as a light meal.

What you need

What to do
  1. Cut the plantains into shards and deep fry until cooked through. Set aside.
  2. In order to keep the texture of prawns plump and juicy, I have a trick that I use. I shell them de-vein them and allow them to soak in some water with added baking soda, for about 30 minutes prior to cooking.
  3. The prawns are pan fried in a shallow pan for about two minutes on each side. 
  4. Then dip the pan fried prawns into the pre-cooked ata dindin for another 5 minutes or so, or until it is served. Then on a mini platter, serve the prawns and dodo attaching them to each other with a toothpick. 
  5. Serve with some additional ata dindin (dip)

Okay, so I made some Red Spinach Efo Riro, a really delicious, exotic and extremely nutritious vegetable dish....seriously, this is one of those dishes I have eaten that I literally feel myself getting "younger" hehehe...., that's how much overloaded the dish is with antioxidants.

I now regularly eat this wonderful vegetable dish and have decided to share some pictures of how I enjoy eating it.......

Serving suggestions: serve generous amounts with pounded yam, gari. plantain. boiled yam, semovita, fufu, amala, boiled rice etc

Red Spinach Efo Riro with Plantain Shards

Red Spinach Efo Riro with Gari

Green & Red Spinach Efo Riro

Red Spinach Efo Riro with Pounded Yam

Efo riro is one of the most popular vegetable dishes favoured by Nigerians particularly the Yoruba people of Western Nigeria. Its essentially made with green leafy vegetables with a combination of dried fish meat and other preferred sources of protein.

The  most often used green leafy vegetable for efo riro include all varieties of amaranth greens (including tete and soko), spinach and I have also successfully made efo riro using kale, collard greens and other leafy vegetables available really. But I have to stress that the Yorubas prefer amaranth greens to make the most sumptuous efo riro dish, and this is because the leaves are just well suited.
Red & Green Spinach (Amaranth)

So having discovered Red Spinach recently through my exciting culinary adventure, it was only a matter of time that I would be cooking a different, exotic and scintillating version of the much loved efo riro..... and I tell you its just divine.

Method: so the same exact method and ingredients used for making the traditional efo riro was used, you know creating the base sauce made with peppers, tomatoes, dried fish, locust beans, palm oil etc. For the red spinach, I plucked the leaves off the stalk, and chop into shreds. After washing them off debris and other foreign matters, I blanched the leaves in the microwave inside a Ziploc food bag. I chose to use this method of blanching to help retain some other vitamins that regular blanching would have depleted. Also I was really keen to help keep the bright red colour.

Colour: the colour of the resulting dish is excitingly bright red. Surprisingly, the color did not tarnish or darken with cooking or over a few days of storage in the fridge. The high pigmentation in red spinach indicates very high levels of beneficial phyto-chemicals which often have antioxidant properties.

Taste: The other surprising thing is that the taste of my red spinach efo riro was not significantly different in comparison to the green spinach efo riro. When blind folded, you really would not notice any major or striking difference. However, its useful to note that the red efo riro has a slightly more earthy flavour.

Versatility: Red Spinach efo riro can pretty much be eaten in the same way you eat the green efo riro. Serve with rice, boiled yam, plantain, and of course different types swallows such as pounded yam, gari, amala, semolina etc

You've got to try it....

Red & Green Amaranth Efo Riro

I love exploring new things, new food ingredients, new techniques, and such and such.....that is just the way I am....!

I eat plantains regularly, not only because they represent one of the most staple sources of carbohydrates in Nigerian cooking, but also because they are versatile to use in different dishes, are extremely delicious and most importantly, they are a healthy source of slow release energy.

I have so many plantain recipes (check them out here), and I continue to explore new ones to suit my taste, preference, mood etcetera.

So in this recipe, quite simply, I cut plantains in the form of shards and deep fry them. I always fry my plantains with my oil of choice, coconut oil. I imagine you can cook the plantain shards by roasting, baking or boiling..... You are sure to achieve an equally fantastic dish.

Plantains as I said earlier, are very versatile to serve with a range of different soups/stews or other dishes like pottages and hotpots.

Well, after having discovered the wonders of Red Spinach, I made some Efo Riro out of them, and I tell you, they tasted equally delicious, you wont know the difference except for the intense deep red colour, and trust me you will be benefiting immensely from the overload of nutrients that this vegetable packs.

Anyway, I served my deep fried plantain shards with red spinach efo riro, and it was exotic and delicious.

Try it out..

What to do
  • For the shards, you need just ripe plantains that are still firm to the touch, So i peeled them whole and then cut them into 3 equal parts (or perhaps two depending on the size of the plantain.
  • To make the shards, I cut through diagonally, each of the previously cut 2/3 chunks then I deep fried in coconut oil. Ensure the oil is not too hot so that the plantain can cook deep within its core.
  • Remove fried plantains and lay out on some kitchen towel to remove excess oil.

  • Arrange carefully on a plate in a circular shape, and serve some red spinach efo riro in the center. Garnish with some tender shoots from the red spinach bunch.
  • Enjoy

So now that I have discovered the goodness of Red Spinach.....I went to work on how best to put it to use and to start getting all the goodness it offers. Read more about Red Spinach here

Red spinach is loosely called that, but really it is red amaranths, and thus can be used, cooked and eaten in similar ways.

The first red spinach recipe am sharing with you is the Red Spinach Seafood Pepper Soup

I could literally feel my age drop as I ate this soup, each table spoon added days to my year......really, really hehehe. This is because it is so intense in its colour, taste and flavour. And because I know that the brilliant colour of the soup is an indication of the richness and goodness of the soup....its packed full of minerals and vitamins vital to good health and for fighting signs of aging..!

Whereas people tend to discard the some-worth dark coloured water created by cooking green amaranth, on the other hand, the deep coloured water created by cooking red amaranth is priceless in its nutritional value and also its visual appeal.....

The recipe is so simple and straight forward....

Its as simple as adding some handful of finely shredded red spinach to some freshly made seafood pepper soup, simmer until the leaves soften, then serve hot preferably with some eko or agidi.

Simpy divine....a must try

In Nigeria, we are all aware of the amaranth greens, locally called tete. Green tete is the most common one, found/sold  in every vegetable market and loosely referred to as greens or spinach. Read more about Amaranth Greens here.

The other day, I went to get some fresh seafood at the Under-bridge Fish Market, just off Ozumba Mbadiwe road in Victoria Island Lagos, and I was delighted to see red spinach on display.

But before actually seeing and cooking with them, I had read a lot about them online in the past. I discovered that they are one of the super foods coming out of Africa!

So finally, I was able to purchase some and experiment with them. I blanched them and cooked them just like the more familiar green variety and I was really pleased with eating them. They tasted just the same, that you could not tell the different in taste and flavour, other than, the red variety was a tad more earthy.

So why Red Spinach.....?

My first response is why not...? They are available and they offer one more option for those who look for variety in their diet.

More importantly, in addition to all the nutrients and goodness offered by green amaranths, the red variety brings a lot more to the table, literally. The red intense color indicates its high content of Vitamin A and also anthocyanins which are very important nutrients that work against free radicals in the body.

Different uses:
  • The young tender shoots of the red spinach are great in salads for their earthy taste and flavour as well a the beautifly color thye add
  • They also make excellent garnishes, again providing some really pretty color and appeal to food
  • As expeceted, they are great in soups and stews to accompany other dishes
  • They are great for making side vegetable dishes.
  • They can be cooked along with fish or meat

Why you should eat more Red Spinach
  • They are more nutritious than the common green variety; and have incredibly high levels of vitamin A, Calcium, iron and fibre
  • They will add variety to your diet
  • They are believed to possess a lot of medicinal properties ranging from aiding digestion to relieving constipation, and can be used to combat anemia.
  • On a more superficial front, red spinach is believed to help strengthen hair, great for skin and also thought to help with weight loss.

Plantains are just so versatile, and contrary to what you might have heard about them, they are a healthy source of slow release energy....!

There are several ways of preparing and serving them.....baking, frying, roasting, mashing, pounding, making into snacks etc. What you make them into or how you process them is determined by their stage of ripeness. Read more about plantains here.

I love plantains and have several recipes on then (Check here for more recipes on plantains )

I want you to get inspired by this simple plantain dish. No fuss, ready in a few minutes, especially if you already have some rich and smooth red pepper sauce/stew.

The highlight of this dish goes to the sleek arrangement of the evenly sliced boiled plantain.......hmmm Simply gorgeous....

Make some as served with what ever you fancy. Mine is served with some stewed turkey....

What you need
To make the boiled plantains:
You need ripe plantains

What to do
Place enough water into a deep base pot and add a pinch of salt. Then place your un-skinned plantains in and allow to boil for about 10 minutes. When boiled/soft, remove the plantain from the pot and carefully remove the skin. Then using a sharp knife, slice across its with, into thin even slices. Serve with any any side of choice, preferably vegetable stews......

Garden Eggs (a family of aubergines) are readily available in Nigeria, sold on every street corner, and eaten largely for snack. There is nothing wrong with eating them for snacks, actually, as they add to your five a day fruit and veg requirement. (Read more about Garden Eggs here)

But because I aim to eat for health, I am always finding new ways to eat more vegetables, ways to actually make them the core of my meals. So after having Grilled them, Spiralized them, Stewed them, I have now also decided to bake them....!

I have discovered that baking garden eggs actually gives them a better texture than boiling them. With baking, you do not have to remove the skin and this stills helps to keep the rigidity as compared to boiling where the skin is often removed and the flesh becomes mushy.

I love the fact that I can keep the skin on, because it is so important to the overall fibre content of the veg. The skin also helps to keep the garden eggs in shapes and make them ideal for this particular recipe, because part of the recipe involves serving a delicious sauce in the baked garden eggs!

If you are serious about eating healthy and want to include a variety of different dishes in your diet, you must give this dish a try. Its got its own character, you have to taste it to understand it....

What you need
  • Fresh garden eggs (choose the larger ones if possible as they will serve as holding cups for the sauce)
  • A balanced combination of chopped red, green peppers and onions
  • Some precooked red pepper base sauce
  • Dried fish (use dried fish such as Panla/Oporoko or any other type of fish pieces that you fancy. These will provide much needed protein to balance your dish)
  • Peanut butter
  • Salt and peppers to taste

What to do
  • Start by washing the garden eggs and removing the stalks. 
  • Then core out the garden eggs creating a hollow in them
  • Sprinkle freshly milled salt and pepper on the eggs and place them on a baking pan.
  • Then drizzle some coconut oil on them, cover with foil paper and bake in an oven for about 10 minutes (depending on how soft you want them to be). Covering them enables them to sweat and cook without drying out.
  • Then remove the foil and continue to bake for another 5 minutes or so. This will let the eggs brown slightly and help them keep their rigidity
  • Remove from the tray and serve hot with some delicious Spicy Peanut Sauce
For the Sauce: Peanut butter is traditionally served with garden eggs, so creating a peanut sauce to serve with this dish works perfectly. All you need is to brown some peppers and onions and add some precooked red pepper base sauce. Add some dried fish to provide a bit of much needed protein, then also add some peanut butter to add extra taste and flavour to the overall dish....

August 22 is designated as the World Jollof Rice Day...!

Not so sure how we arrived at this date, but it is truly well deserving. This I believe is a step in the right direction for Nigerian (and in deed West African) cuisine taking more prominence on the World Food Scene...

Enjoy jollof rice in all its varieties...

Happy #WorldJollofRiceDay.

Find all of my Jollof Rice recipes here.....

I like you to explore new ways of cooking moin moin because I totally understand how tedious the process can be. So I personally always explore new ways to make my life easier in the kitchen.

I was working with a hotel in Lagos recently and was asked to come up with a new way to serve moin moin as a buffet option.

Typically, moin moin is cooked in individual containers or portions.....so to save space on the buffet table and create a more compact and individualized platter, I decided to steam (not bake) the moin moin in a bread loaf tin. This made the moin moin come out shaped like a loaf, and was really easy to slice into individual portions, easy for diners to take slice by slice.

See some of my delicious moin moin recipes:
1. Moin moin made with fresh beans
2. Moin moin made with bean flour

What to do
Make your moin moin batter as usual and pour into a non stick baking pan.

Then carefully place the pan into a steamer and steam until cooked. The time may vary depending on how deep the pan is. Use the same method of checking if your cake is done, by sticking a fork (or stick) in the center. The stick must come out clean.

Before serving, allow the cooked moin moin to rest for a few minutes. This will allow the moin moin to take shape and firm up.

Slice in readiness for your guests.

Moin moin is a popular savory bean pudding made by steaming a batter of ground beans with some added peppers onions etc. Recently in Nigeria, there has been some concerns about the consumption of this special dish, a favorite for most.

So while there is absolutely nothing wrong with the dish itself, there are serious concerns about how it is made.

Traditionally, moin moin is made by steaming a batter of blended beans, in banana or broad leaves (ewe eeran read more here), but in recent times all types of containers have been used to steam the pudding. Most commonly used containers include tins/cans, foil containers, cellophane/polythene plastic bags and even old fruit juice/drink bags such as Caprisun sachets.

Cooking Moin Moin Safely
This is my perspective, once you ingest food (or anything at all), that's it, in terms of the effects or impact the food has on the body, either good or bad. So it is so important to ensure that you are fully aware of what your food contains before eating it, because on in your system, its takes a great deal of effort to remove it, it at all you can remove it!

Most times, we innocently ingest what would turn out to be harmful to our bodies. But I have found that with adequate understanding of food, food materials, utensils and methods used to prepare our food, we will be helping ourselves immensely, to avoid food related dangers.

Its quite understandable that we seek out methods, equipment or materials that can help make our lives easy in the kitchen and make the process of cooking much more convenient and simple, this should by no means blind our eyes to the myriads of danger that could be lurking in the corners, that may have devastating and irreversible effects on our health and well being.

I personally go all out to investigate materials and methods I use in my cooking, satisfying and convincing myself that they not only enhance my cooking, but also would cause no adverse effects on my health...

So when it comes to making my Moin Moin, I stay away from using certain containers....

Nylon, Cellophane, Polythene, Plastic
These come in different forms, but essentially have similar chemical composition. Depending on their quality, some are considered safe and some are not so safe for cooking, food storage or packaging.

These materials contain many chemical compounds some of which are really dangerous for human consumption and are thought to interfere with animal/human hormones. and fertility... Two of these chemicals include bisphenol A and phthalates.

The real danger is that, while it may be okay to store food in these materials at room temperature, at elevated temperatures, these chemicals leach into food packed/cooked in them, making that food unsafe for human consumption.

I really do not recommend any type of cooking using plastic containers or bags so I try everything possible not to cook food in containers made from nylon, cellophane, polythene or plastic.

For food storage and packaging seek out these types of plastics:
A - Good quality high density polyethelyne (HDPE) plastic containers or food bags

B - Use  those made from Polyethylene Teraphthalate (PET). These types of containers are meant to be used just once. They are not suitable for re-use.

C - Good quality  low density polyethylene (LDPE)

For specific cooking techniques which require cooking food in plastics, such as Sous Vide, there are special, food safe plastic containers that are recommended.

Certainly stay away from cooking with plastic containers used to package other products, like cooking oil, juice, etc. Re-using most of these materials, (example Caprisun sachets, ) is highly hazardous.

Most tin containers are susceptible to rust, So in order to minimize rust, tins are coated with a thin layer of lacquer to prevent rust and also to prevent the tin from leaching into food.

Lacquering makes the tin container sustainable for packaging certain foods. The food must be at a certain pH to ensure its safety for human consumption. Foods with high acidity can remove the lacquer layer and expose the food to leaching. At elevated temperatures, the lacquer can also be removed and again exposing food to leaching.

Avoid re-using tins which have been used to pack food such as milk tins or baked beans cans. Use only tins which have been manufactured specifically for cooking or baking.

Safe Materials for Cooking Moin Moin

1. Traditional Leaves: These are the safest materials to use for steaming your moin moin. Broad leaves locally called ewe eeran or banana leaves are safe and actually impart some flavour to the finished dish. These should always be your first choice

2. Ceramic, Pyrex or glass containers such as ramekins or souffle dishes. These containers are specifically designed for cooking and can withstand cooking at high temperatures. They come in different sizes and are really ideal for making moin moin.

3. Foil paper/containers: there are some concerns again for some foil containers, but they are much safer than plastic containers.

4. Baking pans/tins : These are also made designed for high temperature cooking. They come in different shapes and sizes and are so convenient and easy to use.

Moin Moin made in a Loaf Baking Pan/Tin

Moin Moin made in Ramekin

Its been well established that avocado pears are great for health. They are quite delicious too, but that is when they have well ripened, and soft and full of flavour.

Okay, there are sometimes when you get the craving for avocados and the ones you have at home, are not quite ripe enough... so what do you do. The normal thing to do is wait a few more days to allow them ripen and soften. But what if you do not have that patience...

I know its not a common thing to do, but I cooked my not so ripe avocados and I absolutely loved it. You have to try it.

What you need
Firm, not so ripe avocados
Cooked shrimps
Chopped onions
Chopped red peppers
Pre cooked red pepper sauce
Chopped green peppers
Black pepper
Coconut oil

What to do
1. Cut into the flesh of the avocado pears and dice evenly. Set aside.

2. Heat some oil in a pan and add the chopped onions, peppers and a good amount of pre made red pepper base sauce. (Use an amount which is in proportion with the other ingredients.). 

3. Allow all to sizzle together, for a few minutes or until the onions and peppers soften.
Then add the cooked shrimps and allow to heat through. Finally add the diced avocados. 

4. Toss all ingredients around until the avocados soften. Sprinkle salt and pepper and adjust taste.

5. Serve with some toast.

One of my readers wrote to me drawing my attention to the fact that our very popular pastry snack called Chin-chin, could jolly well be an "offspring" of an Italian classic deep fried pastry dough called Cenci...

So off I went to do my own research, and it did not take me a long time at all to come to the realization that there could be a lot of truth in this.....actually I am now convinced there is truth in this and there is a strong link between both of them; Nigerian Chin Chin and Italian Cenci...!

I have often wondered the origins of Chin Chin, how we were introduced to it, and how it became so popular and above all, I did wonder how the name came about....

So I trawled the web again to find out how to pronounced the Italian word Cenci, and I was shocked by how so similar it sounds to Chin chin...!

Again, I went through numerous Cenci recipes to compare with Chin Chin recipes, and again they are closely similar with only some small variations in particular, amount of sugar and butter.

Though with all these similarities, I concluded that the main difference is in the shape. Chin chin is typically made in strips or small balls, whereas Cenci is cut into more elaborate shapes and dusted with sugar...!

All in all, I am convinced that our much loved Chin Chin's direct lineage is from Cenci....so the next question on my lips is, how was this connection made....?hhmmmm...

Well, leaving that for the moment, I decided to find a really good Cenci recipe which I can adapted slightly, to create a type of chin chin which can be served with morning, afternoon or evening tea or coffee and I came up with Chin Chin Twirls...

Check it out below:

What you need
2 large or 3 medium eggs]
2 cups all purpose flour (sieve and add the baking powder to it)
Half a cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Half teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons soft butter
3 tablespoons Condensed milk
Any flavouring of choice (vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg etc)

What to do
I mix all the wet ingredients together first and also mix the dry ingredients together separately then introduce the dry to the wet ingredients. This gives me control on how thick the consistency of my dough is.

So first, crack the eggs into a bowl and add the milk, sugar and butter. Also add your flavouring. Mix all together to achieve a smooth consistency. You may use more or less sugar depending on how sweet you want it. Mix well.

Now add the dry ingredients (ie the flour and baking powder mixture) a little at a time to the wet ingredients.

Then using your hands, mix the flour into the wet ingredients till a  dough forms. Continue to add more flour until the dough becomes less tacky to your hands (does not stick to your palms).

Transfer the dough onto a plain surface, remember to dust surface with some flour first to avoid sticking. Roll the dough out, and cut into shapes as you wish.

To make twirls, Swirls etc, cut strips from the rolled dough and linking two or more strips, twist them into each other..

Heat some coconut oil (this oil gives an additional flavour to the chin chin) and deep fry until golden brown. Drain excess oil and immediately transfer fried twirls onto a tray and allow to dry.

So now I have quite a lot of meatballs in my freezer, after having made some previously (check post here). I particularly made them so that my daughter can readily have some whenever she wants....cause she loves meatballs. The idea of eating meat off the bone does not wash with her, and she wants little effort possible to chew her meat...!

Meatballs are great with pasta, and also with rice. And as a new discovery for me, they are excellent in traditional Nigerian soups.

So my daughter was the one who suggested that I should add some meatballs to my traditional vegetable soup, so I did, and the result is fantastic. The meat balls cooked so quickly and they soaked up so much flavour from the soup base. It is delicious, very simple to make, with very little effort.

What you need
Home made meat balls (check recipe here)
Base sauce to make the soup
Some palm oil (or other vegetable oil of choice)
Amaranth greens (blanched and shredded)
Locust beans
Whole smoked prawns (remove the head, and wash thoroughly in hot water)
Vegetable oil
Salt to taste

What to do
Heat some vegetable oil in a sauce pan and pan fry the meatballs until browned slightly.  This process is needed to seal the juices in the meatballs. Stir constantly to avoid burning, Once the balls have evenly browned, remove from the pan and allow to rest,

In the meantime, heat up some palm oil in a saucepan and add a generous amount of pre-made red pepper base sauce (see a recipe here). Add the stock and some locust beans. Allow sauce to sizzle and reduce into a slightly thick consistency. Taste for salt.

Now add the meatballs into the sizzling sauce and stir in. Also add the blanched and shredded amaranth greens. Cover the pan and turn heat down. Allow to simmer until the greens and the meatballs cook through. The amount of greens and meatballs you add will depend on the quantity of sauce you have. Adjust consistency by adding a little hot water, as required. Taste for salt.

Serve hot.