"Playing With Food" - The Rolled "Swallow" Saga

Rolled Eba

It is well over a year that an image of a rolled eba dish went viral... This dish caused a lot of sensation with majority of people hailing it as a creative way to serve a really traditional meal.

My first impression on seeing the dish was....well, that catches my attention..! This is exactly what I envision for Nigerian Cuisine; the creation and presentation of Nigerian food in a way that catches people's attention, albeit positively.

I am up for all manner of creativity and innovation in the way we prepare and present Nigerian food. No limits, no boundaries....(okay, okay, okay within some reason).

Rolled Eba served with Banga Soup

So I decided to give the rolled "swallow" a go. (Read more about my other creative swallow ideas). I served some to my elderly aunt to see her reaction, and as I expected, she exclaimed, "why are you playing with my food....! You have turned my food into play dough....hilarious. She eat it anyway, no worries there because the shape obviously had no effect on the taste.

When served to my kids however, my son had very little reaction to the shape, he just wanted to eat... so he carried on to eat his food, while my daughter marvelled over the new shape and complimented it. "It looks nice mum" she said. Hmmm interesting and these varied reactions got me thinking, would I do this again...?

The process of rolling could be a little tricky and would need some getting used to. It could turn out to be messy if you are not careful and patient with it, especially when you are trying it for the first time. One dilemma though, is how to act quickly to make a perfect roll and also to ensure that the food is serve still piping hot.

Rolled Pounded Yam served with Efo riro

To get the perfect roll, I use a sushi mat, cling film and some clean water in a bowl. Then I follow the steps below:
  1. Make your "swallow" as you would normally make it. Ensure its not too soft to avoid smudging all over and making a mess.
  2. Then tear off some cling film and carefully lay over the sushi mat.
  3. Then scoop portions of the swallow onto the cling film and with a wooden spoon spread evenly across the film on the mat. Dipping the wooden spoon in some water ensures that the "swallow" spreads evenly and neatly.
  4. Then flatten evenly all over using the wooden spoon. Scrape off excess "swallow" from the sides to get a perfect edge.
  5. Then from one end of the mat, carefully lift the cling film and roll along until you get to the other end of the mat.
  6. Carefully place on a plate to serve. Done
This method can be used for any type of "swallow" including eba, pounded yam and tuwo nshikafa. Amala can also be rolled in this way, though I have not given that a try yet.

Is rolling something I will always do,,,,,? the answer is, it depends on how hungry I am or my guests are..... However, one thing good about rolling swallow is, it is excellent for portion control.


Rolled Tuwo Shinkafa served with groundnut soup

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