For those who don't know, Nigeria is a West African nation of over 180 million people, 250 ethnic groups and over 500 languages (dialects). When it comes to food however, we all speak the language of Jollof Rice and Rice and Stew fluently!
Here is how i make my rich, red, spicy stew.
Romano Peppers/Red Bell Peppers/Tatashe
Fresh Ginger (Thumb Size)- Grated
5 Cloves Garlic - Grated
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
2 Red Onions
4 Seasoning Cubes
Assorted Meat, Chicken (or whatever protein of your choice)
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Curry Powder
Tip #1 - This is a tomato stew, but to achieve a deeper more vibrant red color, i use more romano pepper/bell pepper/tatashe than tomatoes. Tomatoes have a much higher liquid content also so using more of them will make you have to boil your stew for a much longer time. Consider a 70:30 Bell pepper/tatashe to tomato ratio. I used more bell peppers than pictured below, i also do not used tinned/canned tomatoes/tomato puree.
To de-seed the bigger peppers, just tear them open and run then under the faucet using your fingers to remove the seeds.These peppers are not hot so will not burn your hands but you can wear gloves if you wish.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DE-SEED HABANERO PEPPERS. YOUR HANDS WILL BURN, YOU WILL CRY, YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GO PEE FOR HOURS AND GOD HELP YOU IF YOU TOUCH YOUR EYES!
This stew takes about 90 minutes to cook and it is well worth it, the flavor development from all the herbs and spices is intense! I will not time any of the steps because different stew quantities for different people will affect this, so i will tell you what to look out for before moving on to the next step.
Wash your tomatoes and peppers, carefully de-seeding the peppers and blend with 1 onion.
Add ginger, garlic, fresh thyme and bay leaves. Cover and cook on moderate heat until almost all of the water has been absorbed and the paste is beginning t stick to the bottom of your pot. If you are not using a non-stick pot, you will have to keep a close eye on your pot and cook so that your tomato paste doesn't start burning while it is still very "wet". Do not add any seasoning, not even salt, we just want the tomatoes to cook and the herbs to infuse into it.
Please note that too many bay leaves will leave you with a slightly bitter stew. For a medium pot of stew, do not exceed 3.
Wash and season your meat with salt, pepper, 2 seasoning cubes, 1 bay leaf, 1 whole chopped onion, curry powder, garlic and ginger and cook until it is half done. Do not drown your meat in water, you will get a bland tasting stock which will give you a bland tasting stew. Let your water only almost come up to the level of the meat.
Separate meat from stock and transfer meat to a foil lined oven tray and pop into the oven for 15 minutes at 375F until meat is fully cooked. Turn your oven to broil (if you're using a gas oven change the setting to roast or turn off the bottom and light the top depending on your cooker). Turn your meat every few minutes until your meat browns properly and dries up a bit. If you overdo it a bit, don't worry, it will get re-hydrated in the stew.
This is my step that keeps me from deep frying meat. If you would rather deep fry, go right ahead.
When your tomato has cooked, take it off the heat and add vegetable oil and stir carefully. Again, be careful because the tomatoes will be extremely hot, bubbly and "spitting" all over the place, this is why i like to do this off the cooker. A hot tomato and pepper burn is no fun!
Fish out the stems of the frsh tyhyme and discard. Add 2 seasoning cubes and a pinch of salt only, remember you still have your meat stock. Put the pot back on and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cover the pot and allow the oil to fry the tomatoes.
Tip #2 - The smaller your bubbles become the more water you have cooked off.
Pour in your meat stock.
Re-introduce your meat into the stew.
Stir, taste for seasoning and cook to your desired consistency.
Serve with hot white rice, plain pasta, boiled yam or potates, okra soup or jollof rice.