Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Prekese Brew!



Prekese is a fruit from the Aridan tree which mainly grows in West Africa. It's used as a flavouring in soups and drinks. Its strong, sweet, earthy smell gives soups so much body and richness and the taste is just muah! Palm nut soup is never palm nut soup for me without the full bodied flavour of Prekese. It's a source of natural multivitamins and it's used in soups for pregnant women. It also helps reduce asthma attack, and helps blood flow. Ha! So who said African food ain't healthy? Over to you Oga!

To get most of the multivitamins into my system, I decided to make juice from Prekese. See below for my recipe. Try it and let me know how you like it.






INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 - 3 medium size Prekese (Aridan fruit) washed and bruised/broken up
  • Fresh ginger root peeled and crushed (size used depends on your preference, I use about my thumb’s length)
  • Juice of 1 medium size lemon
  • 3 litres warm of water
  • Honey to taste

PREPARATION:

Place the warm water in a bowl with a lid. Soak the bruised/broken up Prekese in warm water and cover the bowl with the lid. Let the Prekese soak overnight. The longer it is allowed to soak, the more it releases all the juice and flavour from its pods.

In my case, I ended up soaking it for 2 days, just because I forgot all about it! Try not to let it soak for too long as it will start to ferment.

After the soaking period, add the juice of one lemon and crushed ginger and mix well. Let it stand for about 30 minutes to an hour. This will help the ginger infuse well in the juice. Then strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove the ginger stalk. Add honey to taste and stir well until it is well dissolved.

Bottle the juice and place in the fridge to chill. Serve well chilled on ice with slices of lemon and orange.


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Jollof Rice! What's the fuss?

What's the fuss about Jollof Rice? This dish is so scrumptious, I am yet to meet someone who doesn't like it. The origins of Jollof Rice is not exactly known but it is so popular with West African countries like Ghana and Nigeria. There are constant and continuous debates about which country makes the best Jollof Rice. Well, though I haven't tasted samples from different countries, I can put my finger up and say Ghanaian Jollof Rice is the best!

Cooking the best Jollof Rice is a bit tricky and a skill that needs to be mastered and perfected. It is not surprising that one of my favourite chefs, Jamie Oliver, caused an uproar in the African community when he recreated this dish without using traditional ingredients. Our Jollof Rice is so beloved that when you want to please an African Mama you better get it right! I have a number of ways of cooking Jollof Rice depending on the ingredients I have in my pantry. The recipe I have shared here is a simple one which is easy to replicate and you get good results all the time. If you do try it, please feel free to send feedback.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 x 400g canned tomatoes
  • 1 x 500g passata
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1300g long grain perfumed rice
  • 2 ½ cups of boiling water 
  • Oil ( 2 - 3 ladles)
  •  Piece of scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 3 gloves of garlic peeled
  • Thumb of fresh grated Ginger
  • 3 pieces of Cloves
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp all purpose spice or your favourite spice
  • 3 cubes of Maggie cubes
  •  Salt to taste 
METHOD:

  1. Blend the tomatoes, put in a pot with the passata and add the bay leaves. Place this on the hob and let it simmer to a thick paste. This may take 45 mins to an hour depending on the quantity of tomatoes. I suggest doing this well in advance, although this is time consuming, it reduces the cooking time and gives a lovely rich red colour to the Jollof rice. 
  2. Blend together the onions, garlic, ginger, and cloves. 
  3. In a heavy base pot, heat the oil and add the piece of scotch bonnet pepper. The scotch bonnet is just to infuse and flavour the oil. When the scotch bonnet pepper turns brown, take it out of the oil. Now add the blended onion mixture. Let the mixture fry till all the water evaporates and the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
  4. Now add the curry powder, turmeric powder and smoked paprika. Fry this mixture for about a minute to help release the oils from the spices. Lower the heat at this point if required to prevent the mixture from burning.
  5. Now add the tomato paste and stir.
       
  6. Add the all purpose spice, Maggie cubes and salt to taste. At this point ensure the tomato stew is well seasoned, actually a little bit over seasoned, add a bit more if required. This will ensure that the rice will be well coated with the flavours. Cover the stew and let it stew till all the water has evaporated. 
  7. Meanwhile, wash the rice in a colander until the water runs clear and drain all the water. Now add the rice to the tomato stew and stir well till all the rice is well coated with the stew. Let it cook for 2 minutes.
       
  8. Add the boiling water and stir well to ensure that all the lumpy rice has been broken up. Add a bit more salt to taste here. Turn up the heat, cover and let it boil for about 5 minutes or till almost all the water has simmered.
  9. Cover the rice with aluminium foil to seal in the steam, cover the pot and lower the heat further. If possible move the pot to a smaller hob on a minimum heat. At this stage, we are using just steam to cook the rice. Let the rice cook until soft, stir now and then to ensure all the rice gets cooked evenly. Only remove the foil once the rice is well cooked.
  10. For the last stage of the cooking, remove the foil and let the rice cook for about 5 minutes.
  11. Serve the Jollof Rice with your favourite spiced chicken, kebabs, salad, fried plantain or anything you fancy.