Ikokore / Ifokore

An Ijebu pottage delicacy made with grated Wateryam. Typically it is eaten with Eba (cold eba preferrably)


I’ve been craving Ikokore for weeks but I’ve been unable to cook because I’ve been convalescent. Now that I’m back on my feet, I cooked the first thing I’ve been craving. Ikokore Ijebu. I have a staff who is Ijebu, she ate it with left over Eba from the previous day. I’m  yet to try that though. 

This Ikokore is “Ikokore elemi meje” (Ikokore with Seven Lives). A joke we crack when there is a lot of protein going on in a dish. I only cook small portions of Ikokore because neither my husband nor my son eat it, I cook just enough to share with my Ijebu staff, my help, and any other person. I eat very small portions.
Recipe 

(Serves 3)

Ingredients 

  • 5 slices Wateryam 
  • 1/2 cup Palm oil 
  • 1 cup blended pepper mix  (tatashe/bawa/jalepeno pepper + Atarodo/Scotch bonnet + Onions, Ratio 4:1:1)
  • 2 cups rich stock 
  • Assorted Meats (about 100g or 1.5cups) (beef, offals, ponmo, cow foot)
  • 2 Medium sized smoked tilapia  (shredded)
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Stock fish 
  • 1 small smoked catfish  (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup powdered crayfish
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 Bouillon Cubes  (eg Knorr)


Procedure 

  • Using the small grit of your grater, grate your slices of yam. If you have a food processor you can use the similar attachment on your processor to grate the yam.

A tuber of water yam, slices of water yam, the grater used to grate the yams, grated yam.

Shredded Bonga Fish (smoked tilapia), shredded stock fish, powdered crayfish, blended pepper mix, smoked catfish, assorted meats

  • If you don’t have your stock ready, boil your meats, season with salt, seasoning cubes and one onion. Cook till done. 
  • Then add your pepper blend, and palm oil, allow it cook for ten minutes then add the all the fish and  crayfish. If you had your stock ready, cook pepper first with palm oil, then add the stock, fish and meat. Taste for seasoning. 
  • When all these are well incorporated, spoon the grated Wateryam in small portions into the broth. If the fluid is too little add some more water and allow it to cook till the yam is well cooked. Stir with a wooden spoon or ladle. 

  • Your Ikokore should be ready within 10 minutes of adding the grated Wateryam and cooking on medium heat. 

Tapioca Pudding

Tapioca pearls is derived from the starch of tubers of cassava. In Lagos , Nigeria, you’d usually find them in sold in very dried dehydrated clusters. It’s usually an off white colour. 

Tapioca Pearls.

It consists of almost pure carbs and contains very little proteins, fibre or nutrients.

Tapioca is gluten free.

When it is cooked it becomes translucent gelatinous. It makes for a great breakfast meal. 

Recently I learnt that Tapioca is a staple for people of the Brazilian quarters of Lagos (Read about the origins of Lagos here), the indigenous people. While preparing for the Wake keep of a dear friend’s mum, she mentioned that since her mum was from Lagos and Lagos Island to be precise, her funeral rites wouldn’t be complete without serving Tapioca to guests at some point. So they made coolers of Tapioca and guests lined up to get some at the Wake Service. 

Tapioca Parfait (Tapioca, Chia Seeds, Pawpaw cubes, Avocado, Coconut Flakes)
Tapioca topped with coconut milk and Watermelon slices
Tapioca Parfait for a friend and I. That was our lunch



Tapioca topped with whipped cream





Recipe(Serves 3 or 4)

  •  1 full cup of dried tapioca
  •  1 small coconut (You can use 2 or 3 tbsp dessicated coconut and 1/2 cup canned coconut milk instead)
  •  Sugar (or Honey, Date syrup , sweetener )

Procedure 

  •  Rinse and soak Tapioca in 5parts water to 2 part tapioca overnight. You’ll be surprised at how much it would soak up all the water and double.

  • The next day strain your tapioca being careful not to get the sands in it too.
  • Break the coconut and for added coconut flavour save the water.
  •  Grate the coconut with the large holes in your grater. 
  • Divide into 2 parts. Extract the milk from one part using some warm water and sieve. 
  •  Put the extracted milk in a pot and warm on medium heat. 
  • Add the other half of the grated coconut, add sugar and bring almost to boil, then add tapioca.
  • Keep stirring till it thickens like ogi or custard, you’ll notice, the tapioca become more translucent. 
Pictorial. l-r Soaked Tapioca Pearls, Coconut milk, dessicated coconut, cooked tapioca
  • Then turn off the heat,

Serving idea.

You can top it with evaportaed milk or coconut  milk or cream, and serve with whatever you like e.g Akara, Pound Cake, fruits or serve as a parfait.

Tapioca Parfait. One of the jars has crushed cornflakes in it, can you tell which it is? (Tapioca, Chia Seeds,chopped Pawpaw,chopped Avocado, dehydrated coconut flakes, *crushed cornflakes)

Tapioca topped with whipped cream

This bowl looks really pretty.

Akara: A collection of 4 types of the ultimate Street food. 

Sometime back I shared tips on making great Akara balls  (You can look up the tips in this LINK). Akara is a simple delicious meal to make. However, you know how simple tasks can throw huge curve balls at you. Akara has shamed many a cook several times. This is my no fail recipe for great Akara balls. Check it out. 

Akara down in the South Western part of Nigeria is a street food you’d most likely find at breakfast hour. Vendors would likely be found hawking it with Ogi  (corn or guinea corn or millet pap or a combination of these grains) or with Bread or both. 

In this post I have made a collection of four methods of making Akara. All can be made in the comfort of your Home.

Enjoy my celebration of the Ultimate Street food.

  1. Homemade Akara  (Method 1)
  2. Homemade Akara (Method 2)
  3. Akara Osu (Method 3)
  4. Akara Elepo -Akara Oyo- (Method 4)


Homemade Akara ( Method 1)

HOMEMADE AKARA METHOD 1 

Recipe

(Serves 6)

(*all measurements refer to standard measuring cups and spoons )

  • 2 cups Beans (i used honey Beans)
Ewa Oloyin (Honey Beans)
  • 2 tbsp roughly blended pepper mix (i used 2 scotch bonnet -atarodo- and 3 small jalapeños -bawa/sombo/long tatashe- and 1 small onion)
  • Salt (to taste )
  • *Seasoning (optional, if using, just add to taste)
  • 1 cup of water (a little more if your beans isn’t blending well but not more than 1/4 cup but it could be less)
  • 1 litre vegetable oil for frying (You could use palm oil if making akara elepo)

Procedure

  • Soak beans and peel the skins off the beans till your beans is white to reveal the white inside.
  • In a blender, blend the beans till smooth. *Don’t blend with too much water, 1 cup of water should be enough, blend the beans in small parts. If you are taking it out to a public mill, take a separate bowl  to collect the water*
  •  Now mix the paste till it is very fluffy. You can use a ladle, an egg whisk or a mixer to mix the paste.  Mixing is to incorporate as much air as possible into the paste. The paste should double or nearly double.
Kitchen Items you can use to mix your paste if you don’t have a mixer.
Steps 1 to 4 in Pictures
  • Once the paste is light and fluffy (the size would have doubled, if you are using a mixer, you’d achieve stiff peaks), fold in your blended pepper. *Add your seasonings and salt into the pepper mix before folding it into the paste* 


Step 4
  •  Using a deep pan, heat the oil up and deep fry the akara, scooping several tablespoons in at a time. Cook each side for not less than 2 mins and flip the sides.
Pictures of Step 5
  • Once your akara is done, use a slotted spoon to scoop out the akara into a dish lined with paper towel or a sieve.

I have an earlier post where I extensively discussed   Tips for making great Akara balls  please check it out for more than I shared here.

Breakfast combo Akara and Custard

HOMEMADE AKARA METHOD 2


Recipe

* Use the same recipe as in Method 1
Procedure

  • Blend Beans/Peppers/Onions together to a smooth paste.

  • Mix the blended paste till air is well incorporated and the paste has doubled (or nearly doubled) in size.
  • Add salt and seasoning to taste while mixing when the paste has risen, stop mixing after adding the salt and seasoning.
  • Deep fry in hot vegetable oil, on medium heat, allowing each side to cook for equal amount of time.
  • Scoop into sieve or a bowl lined with paper towel .

Serve hot or warm.

 AKARA OSU (Method 3)


Akara Osu

If you have ever traveled through the Ibadan/Ife Expressway, you’d be familiar with this akara popularly sold at the old toll gate entering into Ile Ife. It’s unique for its pale colour as compared to regular akara. It’s quite fluffy and dainty and you can be sure to have bread sellers shoving their wares into your face, so you can pair your bread with the Akara (Risky Burger it is called).

A bit of History Lesson.

After I shared this post on Facebook, two of the readers gave me a bit of history lesson on AKARA OSU . 

Yinka KuzyCosy Fagbohun said,

“Akara Osu got its name from Osu. Osu is a small town immediately after Ile- Ife and they are known for akara to badt whether elepo or olororo.Even with ede/prawn(whole). I remember when I was much younger(not like I am too agbalagba na oo 😀 ) , we used to travel through that town on our way to the village in Ekiti. And I always looked forward to us making a stopover at Osu for some sizzling hot and yummy akara with bread.

O dun baje.

The spot they are now on old Ile-Ife isn’t where they have always been. They moved because of the Ile- Ife / Ilesa expressway that had totally cut Osu off ,which meant less travellers on that Osu route .So the need to go meet the mountain. “

Ife Watson said

“I kind of still disagree with this notion that they are the ones who moved. Because I know most of the people selling Akara there now are from Modakeke in Ife. And the original Akara osu wasn’t even this pale. Also,  there’s still a spot on the Ilesha/Akure express where Akara Osu is still being sold. I grew up in Ife that’s why I’m insisting on my explanation 😊.”

Recipe

  • 2 cups White Beans


  • 1 tbsp  blended pepper mix (i used 1 scotch bonnet -atarodo- and 2 small jalapeños -bawa/sombo/long tatashe- and 1/2 a small onion)
  • Salt (to taste )
  • *Seasoning (optional, if using, just add to taste)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 litre vegetable oil for frying


Procedure.

  • Follow the steps in Method 1
  • Heat up the oil and fry multiple of the balls on heat that is between low and medium, fry each side for not longer than 30secs turning it constantly till it down. You don’t want the balls to take on a dark brown colour.

Scoop with a slotted spoon into a dish lined with paper towel or a sieve.

Akara Osu is peculiar for its pale colour with faint specs of pepper.
Risky Burger (Agege Bread and Akara Osu)


AKARA ELEPO (Method 4)

Akara Elepo

Akara Elepo sometimes referred to as Akara Kengbe. It’s characteristic feature is the roughness of the surface and jagged edges.


Recipe

  • 2 cups Beans (i used honey Beans)


  •  2 scotch bonnet -atarodo-


  • 3 small jalapeños -bawa/sombo/long tatashe-


  • 1 small onion)


  • Salt (to taste )


  • *Seasoning (optional, if using, just add to taste)


  • 1 cup of water


  • 750ml Palm oil (Red oil) for frying



Procedure

  • Peel Beans and blend to a slightly coarse paste. You should feel and see little granules of beans when you run it through your fingers.
This is the texture the beans would have
  • Use the next steps in either method 1 or two. You can blend the beans with or without the pepper. 


  • Mix well to incorporate air, add salt and seasoning and use a tablespoon to scoop into the heated oil and fry till well cooked.  

 Serve hot or warm. 


Scrambled Eggs with vegetables

If you are an 80’s child and you grew up in Nigeria then it is very likely fried eggs  featured in your weekend breakfast, Omelette, stewed eggs, scrambled eggs… or you packed it as lunch to school. You either had it with bread or yam. Fried eggs is a staple for breakfast any day of the week. I used to love plain flat omelette or Egg stew, Mr M likes his eggs scrambled with sliced tomatoes and peppers, so marriage found me cooking more scrambled eggs. So I want to share one of my scrambled eggs recipe with you. 

As a child even right up until my late teenage years, I won’t touch this type of eggs with a 10ft pole, if I was ever forced, I would pick out all the onions, tomatoes and vegetables. As if karma decided to repay me, my 5yr old won’t touch this type of eggs, he generally doesn’t want to see anything sticking out prominently out of his food, it is either plain or blended in. 

Recipe  

(Serves 2 or 3)

  • 4 Eggs
  • 3 small plum tomatoes 
  • 1 small onion 
  • 2 or 3 vegetable leaves (Lettuce,Spinach,Kale,Ugwu,… any vegetable of your choice)
  •  1/8 Cup Vegetable oil (please embrace heart friendly oils and low cholesterol oils, I used coconut oil )
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper alternatively you can chop peppers, bell peppers/scotch bonnet /jalapeños 
  • Salt to taste 
  • *Seasoning  (very optional though I sprinkled a bit of my Adobo Seasoning . 

Procedure 

–  Chop your onions , slice tomatoes , slice vegetables. I found some Kale in my local grocery and that is what I used in some of the pictures here, I used Lettuce in some others. Break eggs , add pepper , salt *optional seasoning –  I think it is better to season the vegetables instead though- whisk together thoroughly.


Cross section of ingredients


–    In a pan heat up your oil and add the onions, once the onions are tender add your tomatoes , cook under low heat till tomatoes softened , the tomatoes will wilt in the pan, add the chopped vegetables , cook for about a minute or two and add the egg mix. 

*If you are using chopped  peppers, add them after the onions before adding the tomatoes. 

Pictorial of the procedure

–    Stir the eggs properly into the vegetables  till it is cooked through (eggs are not runny)  

Typically with Naija breakfast, scrambled eggs can be served with Yam, Bread or Plantain, I’ve had friends pair their’s with noodles.

Yam and Scrambled Eggs with vegetables. I used Lettuce in this picture


Spaghetti and Meatballs 

I love my meatballs to be succulent and not tough and dry. This is my trusted go to recipe for meatballs. I could wake up in the middle of the night to make this.

I’m off carbs for a while so I could only relish the plate you see below with my eyes.

This is one of those posts where I just want to go straight to it and share the recipe.Its quite easy peasy.
Recipe.

Spaghetti

• 400grams Packet of Spaghetti
Meat balls

(Makes 16 )

•     350grams ground beef (You can make your own ground beef using this LINK )
•     2 or 3 slices of stale bread (for crumbs)
•     1 Egg
•     1/4 cup milk
•     1 small onion
•     2 Garlic
•     1 tsp Cayenne Pepper (Ground pepper/Ata gigun )
•     1 tsp Dried parsley leaves
•     1 tsp Dried Rosemary leaves
•     1/2 Mixed Herbs
•     1/4 tsp Salt
•     Seasoning to taste

Ingredients for meat balls

For Sauce

•     1 cup tomato puree
•     3 tbsp Tomato paste
•     1 tsp Parsley
•     1 tsp Rosemary
•     1 tsp Mixed Herbs
•     * Cayenne Pepper (optional)
•     Salt to taste
•     Seasoning to taste.

Procedure
–     In a blender or food processor , blitz the bread into crumbs. If using 3 slices , this would yield about  2 cups. Separate 1 cup.
–     Roughly chopped or blitz your onion and garlic.
–     Mix all the dried spices, seasoning and salt together, work it gently into the meat using your hands 

–     Add Egg and Milk mixing it in evenly
–     Add 1 cup of Breadcrumbs and mix till well incorporated
–     Sprinkle some of the left over Breadcrumbs on a flat surface. Scoop some of the mixture into your palms and roll into balls, place them on your flat surface sprinkled with breadcrumbs. When you are done you can sprinkle some more bread crumbs on the meat balls.

Bread crumbs, roughly blended onions, ground beef mixed with all ingredients , rounded balls on breadcrumbs covered surface. 

–      You can grill or bake the balls at this point. I added 2 tbsp of vegetable oil into a pan, and placed the balls into it to cook on both sides for less than  5 minutes. Take the meatballs out of the pan and services aside.

–      I used the pan I made the meatballs in for the tomato sauce. Add all your ingredients at once. Cook the Tomato sauce for at least 15 minutes before adding the meat balls. Then leave it to cook on low it till the tomato sauce is ready.

Meatballs in tomato sauce

For the Spaghetti

–   I took out all the meat balls from the tomato sauce, added a little water and cooked  the Spaghetti in the sauce till it was done.You can taste for salt and additional seasoning if necessary.
It’s quite easy to make it can bet you, while cooking I had time to feed two kids lunch, wash dishes and bath them in between. Give it a try.

Jollof Rice (Nigerian Style)

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Last year the social media space was agog with the #jollofgate saga, thanks to the jollof rice recipe by Jamie Oliver,  which many West Africans (esp Nigerians) thought was a sacrilege. I read the most hilarious comments about food ever. People take their food seriously I tell you.  I sided with Jamie on the recipe because he was spot on with the basic ingredients and he had stated that it was his TWIST to jollof rice. I have had the privilege / misfortune to have jollof rice from other West African regions asides Nigeria and Ghana, and I would say never again! Most people who called for his head on a platter mostly had problems with the plating of the food. In support of #JollofGate I made this jollof rice which had mushrooms, broccoli, purple cabbage…. and the ingredients included paprika,  cinnamon,  turmeric and a host more. 

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Now the dust is completely settled I’m doing a post on Jollof rice , no fuss, no gimmicks!
Recipe

Ingredients

* all measurements in the post refer to standard measuring cups and spoons.

•   2 1/2 Long grain Rice

•    2 cups pre cooked pepper mix (tomatoes + jalapeños + scotch bonnet, ratio 5:1:1)

•    1/4 Tomato Paste

•    1 Cup Chicken or Beef Stock

•    2 bay Leaf

•    1 1/2 Tablespoons Curry powder

•    1/2 Teaspoon dried thyme

•    Salt to taste

•    2 or more Bouillon Cubes (These days I use MSG free seasonings )

•    1/2 Cup Vegetable oil

•    2 Onions

•     *4 cloves of garlic (optional)

•     Chopped mixed vegetables  (optional)

•    Plum or Cherry tomatoes

My tips for great jollof rice,

 1. A rich beef or chicken stock,

 2. Good Tomato base (Ground tomatoes+peppers+Onions & Tomato Paste)


Below I’d share how I make my beef stock and the ratio for my Tomato base. 

I doubled the ingredients in recipe here so I had 4 cups of freshly blended pepper, 1/2 Cup tomato paste. Cook the mix till it done.


This is how I make my rich beef or chicken stock. 

Celery + Carrot + Onions (Mirepoix in french). I always have smoked fish (see my mum has a fish farm and they roast a lot fish for sale) most times I save the head of the fish so as to use in cooking my meats. Most times I add only salt to this other times I may just add seasoning .  These days I’m embracing MSG free seasonings so I favour Adobo Seasoning. 

Add a little water (when my meat is fresh I mostly don’t add water except it is necessary, when it is frozen I add water to help it thaw faster) 

Cook your meats till tender and strain the stock from the meat.


Procedure

–  Wash Rice with clean water until the water is clear and set aside.

–    In a clean pot, heat up vegetable oil, chop one onion and fry with bay leaf till the onions are slightly tender and add the pepper mix , tomato paste, stock, curry, thyme, taste after adding stock before you add the bouillon cubes, and salt, so as not to over season or salt it.

–    Allow the pepper to fry  a little then add 750 ml of water and pour in the rice

Curry powder, dried thyme, garlic, tomato stock with bay leaf.

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–    Cook till the rice is tender. If the rice seems to be slightly hard and most of the water has evaporated, turn down the heat, and cover the rice with a *plastic  bag* moinmoin leaves or banana leaves, and cover with pot lid, this would trap the heat and cook the rice  through without leaving you with soggy rice.

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There is a potential health risk to using a plastic bag to cover your cooking rice. Heat interferes with the chemical components in the plastic bag to cause a reaction with your food. Please use leaves instead.
It is safer and healthier to use leaves to trap the steam in your rice instead of using plastic.


* Jollof rice may burn whilst cooking , it is perfectly okay, I know people who live for the burnt bits. 

* You have to use a wooden spoon or ladle to stir the rice in thoroughly so the colouration can be even 

–     Slice onions and plum tomatoes (i used cherry tomatoes) and stir into cooked rice when it is done. 

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I used plum tomatoes when I made this.

–    If you are adding chopped  vegetables stir it in now.

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Jollof rice is not complete without fried  plantain. At most Nigerian parties,  it is served along  with fried rice and moinmoin.

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SECRET TO GREAT AKARA BALLS.

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Good ol’ Akara
We all have several different methods for making the ultimate akara balls but this is my own personal tip.
Believe it or not as simple as it is to make Akara it has the power to disgrace even the best cooks if you break certain rules.

RULE 1.
Never add too much water in grinding
I remember when I was young when we wanted to grind peeled beans for Akara my mum sent us to the Mill with 2 separate bowls. One to collect the milled beans and the other for the water, so as not to add too much water to the beans.
NEVER let your beans paste be runny it would be impossible to redeem the akara as it would definitely turn out flat.

RULE 2.
Incorporate enough air
I have found that the chief key to achieving puffy fluffy akara balls is in the mixing. Mixing well allows enough air to be incorporated into the paste.
If you have a hand mixer or stand mixer your life has been made easy. Just use the whisk attachment and mix it for 10 – 15 minutes at medium speed or mix till the paste doubles in size.
If the paste is too watery from the start, incorporating too much air is a recipe for soggy, very oily akara, it would rise fair enough, but it will become like a sponge that has soaked  oil.
If you don’t have any of the above get ready to work those arms. Mix till fluffy.

 

*Personal tip
I don’t blend my onions or pepper with my beans. I roughly blend it separately and add salt and seasoning.
When the beans paste is fluffy add the roughly blended and seasoned pepper. What I do is that like with sponge cake I fold the pepper mix in three additions so as not to allow the paste deflate.

 

RULE 3.
Fry in a deep pan.
I have found that using deep pans instead of shallow pans give better result. So i always use a deep pan to fry my akara balls. Deep frying helps your balls to come out better.

*Please Note :
The oil must be HOT! This is a trick I learnt years ago. Put a very tiny drop of water in oil when you put it on fire. As the oil heats up it starts to make a little noise, you’ll know your oil is hot when the oil stops sounding.

I have tried several methods in the past including adding eggs to the paste and I have decide to stick to this method and it has never failed me.
Give this a try and give me feed back.
Enjoy.

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