Food in Theory

Grand Afro Brunch

The Launch of Grand Afro Brunch (The GAB)

The Grand Afro Brunch (the GAB) is a brand-new event series celebrating the vibrant tapestry of African cuisine. Launched on March 10th, 2024, in Milan, Italy, it offers a unique dining experience transcending time, culture, and generation. Guests enjoyed a meticulously crafted five-course menu with three signature cocktails, created by myself (Chef Immaculate Ruému). Welcome hors d’oeuvres kicked off the brunch experience in an intimate gathering fostering cultural exchange, networking and fun. The Grand Afro Brunch Menu The Grand Afro Brunch menu was created to highlight Afro culture worldwide, both in the diaspora and in the motherland. Celebrating how we are all connected through food and how culture transcends time and generation. Hors D’oeurves – Akara & Ogi Akara is typically made with black-eyed beans and served as breaks with corn porridge. It is also known as Acaraje in Afro-Brazilian culture. I made this version using chic peas, a more common legume in the Mediterranean diet, as I like using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. Ogi, a local name for pap (porridge) in Nigeria, is a fermented cereal pudding crafted primarily from maize, sorghum, or millet. In the traditional preparation method, the grains are soaked in water for three days, followed by wet-milling or grinding and subsequent sieving to eliminate husks. Pap can be found taking various forms across Afro-descendant cultures. Plate 1 – Abacha FrescoCassava/Manioca flake salad with lobster and cashew nut dressing Abacha is a dish originating from the Igbo culture in eastern Nigeria. It is also commonly known as African salad. Typically marinated in palm oil and spices and served with fresh greens and meat or fish. This is my rendition of African salad which I’ve called Abacha Fresco served with steamed lobster and cashew nut dressing. Plate 2 – OléYam Waffles served with honey-fried chicken Ole is the word for Yam in the Urhobo dialect of Southern Nigeria. I served it in the form of yam waffles and chicken – paying homage to the African American soul food culture. Plate 3 – Suya BeskeFried Soya curds in Suya spice mix and honey  Suya Beske – Suya is a dish from the nomadic Hausa people across West Africa. It’s grilling meat with a peanut-based spice mix. In this dish, I’ve used Beske, the name for tofu in Nigeria. The Beske is made from soybean; blended and drained into milk and then fermented with lime. The final product is Beske (aka Tofu) which is then cooked and seasoned with suya spices. Plate 4 – KokoMillet porridge with coconut & mango Koko – is the Hausa name for millet pap. A variation of Ogi (pap/porridge) made from different types of corn. Koko is just the version made from millet. Similar to American grits and many other foods from cultures of African descent. You can eat it both sweet and savoury. I cooked the millet in coconut milk and served it with mango, coconut flakes, lime and honey. Plate 5 – OrhëSweet ‘Plantain pancakes with caramelized walnuts One thing we all have across various Afro cultures is sweet plantains. Steamed, grilled or fried – I call it the rich aunty of banana. You can do anything with it. I created these sweet plantain pancakes and topped them with walnut caramel. Enjoy. Signature Cocktails Cocktail 1 – Hibiscus Bellini In ancient West African culture, the hibiscus was originally used as a medicine to treat high blood pressure. Over time it has become popular in making festive drinks such as Zobo in Nigeria, Bissap in Senegal and Sorrel in Jamaica.  Cocktail 2 – Palm Wine Margarita Palm wine is the sap from the trunk of palm trees. It’s a natural alcoholic beverage and the longer it ferments the stronger it becomes. It made a perfect addition to the classic margarita. Cocktail 3 – Tamarind Chapman Not to be mistaken for the classic Chapman. Although this drink is just as refreshing and tangy, it hones a balance of sweet, sour and tart flavours thanks to the use of Tamarind pulp. Tamarind is a hardwood tree originating from Africa but also found in Asia and various tropical areas. Its bean-like pods contain seeds encased in fibrous pulp, which starts green and sour before ripening into a sweet-sour, paste-like consistency. If you want to learn more about the Grand Afro Brunch, you can connect via Instagram here, where you will see more highlights from the event.

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Millet ‘Pap’ Porridge with Fresh Mango and coconut

Unpacking African Diet Bias Featuring a Simple Recipe for Millet Porridge (Pap)

Let’s dive into African Diet Bias. I will also share a simple recipe for Millet porridge (pap). One of a multitude of healthy meals found in the diverse cuisines of Africa It is no secret that food plays a key role in our overall health, in addition to our desired physical aesthetics. We have Keto diets, Paleo diets, Vegan or Vegetarian diets, and the Mediterranean diet. Most of the popular diets today guide us in living a healthier lifestyle as prescribed by global cultures. With the popularity of the endless list of diets we have today, the African diet is one that seems to have not made the cut. People of African heritage from natives of the continent to the greater diaspora have cultivated an array of dishes that have been overlooked and/or unfairly categorized as unhealthy. Similar to most diets, the African diet is influenced by cultural beliefs, religion, and medical requirements. Today I would like to take an elementary look at the fundamental makeup of the African diet to explain why this notion could not be further from the truth.   The African Diet: Unpacked and Indisputably Healthy Although vegetarianism is not necessarily celebrated in the vast African culture, it is the foundation on which most cuisines on the continent are built from a variety of locally grown rice, cassava, yam, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens. Cuisines such as Nigerian or Ghanaian consider dishes made with these plants as the entree. On the contrary, meat dishes are served as sides. These days there is plenty of research showing that diets high in meat increase the chances of disease (especially diets high in red meat consumption). The Normalization of Open Markets, Farm-to-table, and Slow Foods in Africa Commonly known to those who have the privilege of travelling around the Mediterranean, fresh fruits and vegetables rot quite quickly. This is because preservatives (chemicals) have not been used on produce. The same can be said for most African countries. Although prevalent, fast food takes the backseat in African diets. Movements that we now know as “farm to table” and “slow food” are the core of most African cultures to this day.  The core of most African food cultures focuses on creation rather than consumption. For example, the bi-product of one dish can play a key role in another dish. When there is waste, it is typically used to replenish the soil for the growth of new crops or used in the production of animal feed. These elements often get layered into a meal. Consider the False Accusations Against Palm Oil Palm oil is an ingredient criticized with arguably good intentions in the Western hemisphere. These criticisms however are often based on ignorance. The consumption of Palm oil outside of Africa is based on exploitation and several other concerns, which you can read about almost everywhere.  Let me tell you about the raw, rich, and vibrant Palm oil I and many Africans grew up on. The Palm tree in most West African countries produces nutrient-rich Palm fruit, which yields a delicious extract used in soups. From this same extract comes Palm oil and then the Palm kernel oil from the seeds. You can say it’s a triple threat of good deliciousness!  The palm oil used by Africans is just as I have described – rich, raw, and vibrantly red. There is another, however extremely processed, refined, and bleached version which most people (non-Africans) refer to as palm oil. This is cheaper and more plentiful. Thus, it is used in the production of some of our most loved products. Such as chocolate spreads, mayonnaise, creams, and various condiments. Palm oil in its truest raw form is nothing to be scared of. Unrefined and unbleached palm oil is a nutritious source of many vitamins. It holds great value in the African diet, not just for its flavour and richness but also for its medicinal properties. Let’s Get Into Legumes (and Cereals) The legume family is one of the highest consumed food groups in Africa. Lentils, Black-eyed peas, Cowpeas, and Bambara nuts, are just a few. The range of legumes and the dishes they are made with is very similar across several African countries. This is the same for cereals such as maize, tapioca, and millet. Let’s Debunk the African Diet Bias: Try Making Your Own Millet Porridge Recipe a.k.a Pap A popular breakfast cereal across Africa is ‘pap’. It is a porridge that can be made from either maize or millet. It can be made into a smooth consistency or gritty, depending on what culture. The dish also has different names across countries, with the most common being pap. Pap can be referred to as ‘Ugali’ in East Africa as a hot dough made from maize to accompany soups. Pap can also be referred to as ‘Akamu’ or ‘Ogi’ which is a smooth runny porridge made from fermented maize or millet in Nigeria. Simple pap in South Africa typically refers to a thick gritty porridge made from millet. Below is an easy and healthy recipe combining the flavours, styles, and shapes that pap takes across the African continent. Using locally sourced items here in Italy to recreate a widely loved African dish. Continue to Embrace The African Diet At the end of the day, is baffling as to why the African diet is not as prevalent across its borders. As with so many things, Africa has influenced the world’s food culture as we know it today. However, the continent is not recognized for what it brings to the table. It should be mentioned that Palm oil, avocados, and nuts are a huge part of the African diet. Especially peanuts (popularly known in Africa as groundnut), and cashew nuts. Many are surprised to learn that Africa has a history of fermentation being used as one of the oldest forms of food preservation. Fermented foods are high in probiotics which aid in digestion. Foods like Garri from Nigeria and Guedj from Senegal go through a fermentation process that aids their

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4 Ways to Prepare Plantain Around the World (In honour of world plantain day).

So we all know what bananas are, but how about plantains? You know those green, sometimes yellow, or perhaps black/brownish banana-looking things you’ve seen maybe once or twice. Are you from an African country, some parts of Asia, Latin America, or the West Indies? Chances are that you are already quite familiar with plantains. If not, please allow me to take you on a journey with four ways to prepare plantain around the world in honour of world plantain day (June 5th). Plantains are of the same species as bananas but unlike the popular sweet fruit, the plantain is a vegetable. One that is typically cooked just like you would a potato. Yes, that’s it… plantains are the bridge between a potato and a banana. Although it is debatable that it is not best practice to eat them raw, allow me to let you in on a secret. Every kid that grew up eating plantain, like myself, has (out of impatience) munched on a slice of ripe plantain while waiting for the cooking. I don’t want to go into childhood tales here, but rather, let me give a few facts about plantains: Added Note: You can also find plantains as a source of alternative flour in gluten-free baking and cooking. Now that we’ve gone through the basics… Below are some of the most well-known plantain dishes from different parts of the world. Detailed recipes are included for you to try: Puerto Rican Mofongo: This traditional Puerto Rican dish is a hearty meal worth the effort. Mashed plantain can play the role of the main dish, as well as a great side dish. Enjoy this plantain recipe for a virtual trip to mouthwatering paradise. Nigerian Dodo / Jamaican Sweet plantain: Most Jamaicans know them as ‘Sweet Plantains’ but ‘Dodo’ is the Nigerian name for this delight. It is also the renowned accompaniment for the famous West-African jollof rice. This plantain recipe is most popular across West-African countries and the West Indies. Ghanian Kelewele: This is a spicier version of fried sweet plantains. This popular Ghanaian snack or side dish saves you from throwing away very ripe plantains. If they have dark spots and are nearly going bad, just chop them into bites size, toss them with spices, fry them, and enjoy. Typically serves as a snack with peanuts or as a side dish to many rice and/or bean-based meals. Nigerian Kpekere: This is another popular Nigerian plantain dish. It is a common street food across the country. Similar to the Puerto Rican Tostones, these deep-fried green plantains are great to snack on during work, studying, on the road, chilling, or when taking a break. Other popular plantain dishes:

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Extra nutty Cocadas – An introduction to Panamanian cuisine

Cocadas are a popular snack and dessert in Panama. They are made from coconut flakes which are cooked until caramelised. The sticky mixture is usually moulded into balls but can also be made into bars. They reminded me of a common snack in Nigeria known as coconut candy. Similarly cooked until caramelised and formed into balls. Coconut candy is a popular street snack in Nigeria, likewise the Cocadas in Panama. I am simply amazed at how much culture transcends from Africa into several Central American cultures. Thanks to my Panamanian friend, Vivi, I was able to journey through this food culture of African descent. We added some extra bits here and there. Such as using cashew nuts to give the Cocadas an extra nutty flavour. As this was my introduction to Panamanian food. Aside from the delicious Cocadas, we also made some “Arroz con Guandu”, rice and peas cooked in coconut milk. It reminded me of the different versions of rice and peas we have across the Caribbean and West Africa. Guandu is the pea used in this Panamanian dish. To go with the dish we made some plantains. As is similarly done in almost all cuisines that have African heritage. Plantain en Tentacion is what it is called, which translates to plantains in temptation and I’ve never heard a more accurate phrase. How to make the Arroz con Guandu (Rice & peas) INGREDIENTS: Vegetable oil 1 Onion A handful of Coriander (cilantro) About 1 1/2 cups of Long grain rice One 400ml can of Coconut milk 400g canned Guandu beans(Pigeon peas) Salt to taste Water INSTRUCTIONS: Rough chop the onions and cilantro into small bits. Place a pan over medium-high heat and pour in about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the chopped onions and cilantro, stir and fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Wash the rice and add it to the pan, then pour in the coconut milk and water, just enough to cover the rice. Season with salt, stir together and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes. Drain the can of guandu beans and rinse with water. Add the beans to the cooking rice and cook for a further 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and Its ready to be served. How to make the “Platanos en tentacion” (Plantains in temptation): INGREDIENTS: 3 Yellow plantains Handful of cinnamon sticks About half a cup of water about a 3rd of a cup of brown sugar. Vegetable oil for frying. INSTRUCTIONS: Slice each plantain at a slanted angle into chunks. Place a large pan over medium-high heat, and add enough oil, just enough to cover the surface of the pan. Once the oil is hot, place the sliced plantain and fry on both sides until a little charred. Add water, sugar and cinnamon stick to the pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until you have a thick syrup coating the plantains. Remove from heat, serve with the rice and enjoy. After enjoying a plate of “Arroz con guandu” and “Plantanos en tentacion; some cold Cocadas are the perfect dessert to complete the meal. How to make the Panamanian Cocadas with Cashew nuts:

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Stacked Kenyan Chapati

Kenyan Chapati – Journeying through African foods and of African-descents

My previous knowledge of Chapati was that it’s an Indian flatbread similar to Naan & Roti. However, a few years back I was introduced to Kenyan Chapati by my friend, Tracy. She kneaded a dough made of flour, grease, water, salt and sugar. Then proceeded to create this flaky pastry that turned out to be the Kenyan Chapati. It made me realise there is a lot about African food heritage that I am yet to learn. Something else that was intriguing to me about this flatbread is the flour. The chapati fortified wheat flour. A flour from Kenya which I am yet to find here in Italy. Quite ironic actually that I have learnt more about Africa whilst living across European countries than I ever did in the motherland. For example, the ties between South Asian and Eastern African cultures. Hence, the existence of the Kenyan Chapati. who influences who is unbeknownst to me but what I do know is that these soft layers of dough known as chapati are delicious and the depth of African culture together with cultures of African descent know no bounds. When I say learn more about Africa whilst living in Europe, I mean because I have had the opportunity to meet other people from various African cultures than when living in one African country. I did not learn about Africa from Europeans. A “no-recipe recipe” with short video: View this post on Instagram A post shared by Immaculate Ruému (@immaculateruemu) This is a “no-recipe recipe” for how to make the Kenyan Chapati. I don’t have a recipe with the measurement as Tracy makes it of heart. Similarly, now I also make it off the memory of watching her. INGREDIENTS: Chapati Flour (or regular plain flour / several cups) Sugar (usually just about a teaspoon or a tablespoon) Salt (usually just about a teaspoon or a tablespoon) Vegetable oil (about a fourth of the amount of water being used Lukewarm water (about 5/2 fraction of the amount of flour used) INSTRUCTIONS: Mix flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil and water. Mix all together until all ingredients are combined into a dough. Then knead for 10-15 minutes. Cut the dough into pieces and mould it into balls using your palms. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Using a rolling pin, roll out each piece of dough at a time into a large round sheet. Spead all over with cooking oil then gradually roll the sheet of dough until you have a long string. Wrap the string into a coil and set it aside (covering with a kitchen towel). Repeat the process till all the pieces of dough are wrapped into a coil. Allow resting for another 10-15 minutes. On a floured surface, roll out each coiled piece of dough at a time into a large round sheet. Place a large griddle or pan over medium heat and grease with some oil. When hot, place a sheet of the dough into the pan and cook until you see some bubbles, then flip over. Spread a little oil over the cooked side, press gently with a spoon against the pan and flip again. Cook on each side for 10-15 seconds. Remove the cooked chapati from the pan and cover it with a kitchen towel. Repeat this process for all the pieces of coiled dough. Serve and enjoy. The Kenyan Chapati is now a dish I make quite often. I am intrigued to learn the stories behind our cuisines. Some of which I’ve tried, like Ethiopian Injera/Njera/Enjera, Senegalese Thieboudienne (a.k.a Ceebu jën). Others that I am yet to familiarise myself with, such as Haitian Griot & Jamaican Ackee & Saltfish and many more. There are endless recipes in the African continent & beyond that, I am yet to learn from. I am excited as I begin this Journey through African foods. Other articles you might find interesting: The Nigerian Suya Spice Mix The Nigerian Jollof 101 – Extras & Essentials

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Christmas Hamper Wishlist: Black-owned f&b brands

Christmas Hamper Wishlist: Black-owned f&b brands, products and services

During the Christmas season, we as humans love giving and receiving gifts. It’s a tradition that is both timeless and borderless. One of my fondest memories growing up was gathering items to create customized Christmas hampers with my mum. A ready-made Christmas hamper is an easy option. However, nothing beats a well thought out collection of delectable goodies. Hampers can be made with an array of items. The typical content of a hamper is food, drinks, books, and household items. We all have busy lives, so creating a customized Christmas hamper might be a bit of a challenge. Actually picking out a gift, in general, is a challenge for most people. Hence why we have things like a wishlist. Over the past year, I have curated a list of amazing food and beverage brands, restaurants and other creations. All of which are black-owned and/or black-created. This list is evidence of the awesome creative minds of black people across the globe. As a black chef, I am proud to see such amazing work. 1. LAPIN ROUILLÉ CHAMPAGNE The first Black-owned and Woman-owned champagne from the UK. Lapin Rouillé Champagne is the exemplary first release from the Rusty Rabbit Drinks warren. Traditional style champagne, crafted from hand-harvested Pinot Meunier grapes from Massif de Saint-Thierry, Reims. Dry with pronounced floral and red berry characters over juicy, vibrant acidity and light minerality. – RustyRabbitspiritslounge.com 2. YOLÉLÉ FOODS FONIO PILAF Fonio is a gluten-free ancient African grain. The brand name Yolélé is a Fulani term of exuberance used throughout West and Central Africa. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Yolélé 🌾 African Foods (@yolelefoods) Fonio is light + fluffy and has a slightly nutty, earthy flavour. It soaks up spices and sauces beautifully, making it a perfect base for just about anything. – Yolele.com 3. HOUSE OF CINN BAKERY A social enterprise using cinnamon goodies to help the homeless. View this post on Instagram A post shared by House of Cinn (@houseofcinn) Our handmade cinnamon buns are filled with goodness. We recreate classic flavours to bring you buns with a difference. Every time you buy a bun, you bring balance to society by helping a rough sleeper get back on their feet through our project. – Houseofcinn.co.uk 4. ÌTÀN TEST KITCHEN ÌTÀN (ē-tohn): meaning story or history in Yoruba. A test kitchen based in Nigeria that tells the story of Nigerians, by Nigerians of our food, culture, traditions and people. Founded by Chef Michael Adé Elégbèdé. View this post on Instagram A post shared by ÌTÀN(ē-tohn) Test kitchen (@itan_tk) At the core of our values is our mission to elevate the experience of Nigerian cuisine, on a global stage. “ITÀN is not only a test kitchen, it is also an educational space where we share our knowledge & ideas with the next generation of Nigerian chefs.” – itan_tk 5. JOLLOF COFFEE BY TERANGA FOODS Organic coffee beans grown in Garbon and roasted in local Senegalese farms. Jollof Coffee offers a uniquely smooth and delightful flavour further enhanced by the spice called “djar” (grains of Selim). “Our organic bean is grown is small farms in Gabon and stands above the rest in terms of taste and refinement. During its roasting process, the spice Djar is added to it elevating the finished product. Djar contains alkaloids, proteins, essential oils and camphene which gives it its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.” – Teranga Foods Co. 6. NOTES FROM A YOUNG BLACK CHEF A memoir by Chef Kwame Onwuachi and Joshua David Stein. In this inspirational memoir about the intersection of race, fame, and food, Chef Kwame shares the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age; a powerful, heartfelt, and shockingly honest account of chasing your dreams—even when they don’t turn out as you expected. – Penguin Random House 7. AFRICAN PRINT MUGS COLOURSHOT A collection of Mugs and travel mugs hand-crafted with African print fabrics. Another woman-owned business based in the Uk. View this post on Instagram A post shared by African Fabric Cards & Gifts (@colourshotcards) Colourshot uses lovely, colourful African fabric in everyday contemporary ways. Founded by Tanya, A small buysiness that initially began by making cards, then jewellery, completely handmade, using fabric and wood. Then mugs and coasters, which were and still are a major hit. – Colourshot.co.uk 8. PEDRO’S PREMIUM OGOGORO Awaiting its global and eCommerce launch is Africa’s first Premium Ogogoro. 100% organic spirit made from palm. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Pedro’s (@pedrosafrica) Micro-distilled in small batches and handcrafted in Nigeria’s riverine communities and then refined in Lagos. Pedro’s is spearheading a new African narrative, audaciously unsurpassable and unapologetically local. – Pedro.africa 9. ZOE’S GHANA KITCHEN COOKBOOK An innovation to new African cuisine by Chef Zoe Adjonyoh. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen (@ghanakitchen) “Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen Cookbook is my love letter to Ghana. It’s an introduction to the life, culture, and kitchens of my people. In the cookbook, I’ll introduce you to Ghanaian ingredients, flavours, and styles of cooking and give you a cheat sheet, a playlist (Spotify – Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen) and a kitchen companion as your guide to the ingredients and flavours from across West Africa…” – Zoe Adjonyoh 10. HIBISCUS FLOWER POWDER By Iya Foods – an e-commerce brand that innovates with African superfoods. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Iya Foods (@iyafoods) “A delicious tart flower also known as roselle and flor de jamaica, dried hibiscus powder is used for a variety of culinary, nutritional, and beauty purposes worldwide. Iya’s hibiscus powder is made 100% from dried hibiscus flowers.” – iyafoods.com If you like this list you might also like 9 Recipes to spark up your Christmas menu. If you are keen on learning about Nigerian food check out The Nigerian Jollof 101 – Extras & Essentials.

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10 different Italian pasta from various regions in the country

Jump to Video After several years of living in this beautiful country, allow me to take you on a cultural trip. Via the way of pasta across several Italian regions. I might not know everything yet but I know a thing or two about Italian food. Especially pasta, hence why I have curated a list of 10 different pasta from various regions in Italy. 1. Bucattini Starting from the central region of Italy is the bucatini pasta that is common throughout Lazio. These thick strands of pasta can easily be mistaken for spaghetti. In addition to the difference in density, the bucatini also has holes running through them. In fact, the Italian word for holes is “Buco”, which I believe the name bucatini is derived from. A popular pasta that also has holes running through them is macaroni. Hence why I like to think that bucatini is a bridge between spaghetti and macaroni. Italians from Rome are known to use bucattini in preparing carbonara, ‘amatriciana‘ and ‘cacio e pepe‘. 2. Gnocchetti (or Gnochetti Sardi) There is various information on where exactly gnocchetti originates from. There are also various types of gnochetti. Pictured is what I’d call the classic gnocchetti which is apparently from the northern region of Lombardy. However, the popular ‘gnocchetti Sardi’ has a slightly different look and, as you probably can tell from the name, it originates from the southern region of Sardinia. There are so many ways to eat gnocchi’s and gnocchetti’s, I personally love them with the classic Italian pesto. 3. Trofie Trofie is a short cut pasta coming from the northern region of Liguria. This region of Italy is also popular for its delicious pesto and beautiful seasides. It is said that the shape of Trofie was originally made to look like wood shavings. Hence the thin, short cut and twisted strands. As you might have guessed already Trofie is delicious with a simple Ligurian pesto (as it is commonly served). 4. Tortellini Tortellini is a ring-shaped, stuffed pasta from Emila Romagna. This region is popular for many stuffed pasta like ravioli and is also known for egg pasta. Two cities in this region, Modena and Bologna, lay claim to the origin of Tortellini, but who really knows. 5. Spaghetti Probably the most loved across the world. Spaghetti has opened the doors for pasta as we know it today. Hailing from the Italian southern island of Sicily. This thin, long string pasta can be cooked and eaten in so many ways, the simpler the better. i.e. with tomatoes, basil, olive oil and parmesan. Classic and delicious. 6.Penne It doesn’t just sound like a pen but was originally made to look like a quill pen. Penne is from the Italian southern region of Campania. Similar to spaghetti the penne pasta is also one of the most popular pasta known internationally. Additionally to it sounding and being shaped like a pen, the word penne is a literal translation for ‘pens’ in Italian (or ‘La Penna’ in singular). 7. Paccheri Another great pasta from the region of Campania is Paccheri. Known mostly by Italians and less popular in average households across the world. My first contact with this pasta was upon a visit to Da Vittorio Restaurant in a Bergamo, a small city in the outskirt of Milan. Paccheri, the signature dish at the Michelin starred restaurant, simply cooked in a creamy tomato sauce. 8.Farfalle Coming down to the Italian northern region of Lombardy (my adopted Italian home), you will find the beloved Farfalle. Upon the first look at this pasta, one could way it looks like a bowtie. However, the inspiration behind the pasta is a butterfly. Assuming you haven’t guessed it already, farfalle means butterfly in the Italian language. 9. Fregola Now this one might take you by surprise. Fregola is probably the tiniest pasta you will come across. In my opinion, it doesn’t even look like pasta More like the northeastern couscous, but it is every bit an Italian pasta and a much loved one at that. This pasta originates from another southern Italian island known as Sardinia. 10. Orecchiette Finally, last on this list but most definitely not the least. One of my all-time favourite pasta, Orecchiette. If I have to count the pasta I have eaten the most, I think it will be this one. Coming from another southern Italian region known as Puglia. The Orecchiette is apparently shaped to look like tiny earlobes, however, I think they look like tiny hats. Cute and delicious pasta. Featured video: Here is a list of recipes using some of the kinds of pasta mentioned: Authentic Spaghetti alla Carbonara Romana Baked Feta Pasta with Gnocchetti and Aurbergines Bucatini all’amatriciana – an Italian classic Squid and Fregola – A warm spring(ish) salad Easy Egg Penne Pasta Bake with Asparagus

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10 Essential Ingredients in a Nigerian Kitchen

10 Essential Ingredients in a Nigerian Kitchen

Jump to video Around the world, there are common food ingredients we are all used to having in the kitchen. As much as there are similarities ranging through countries and continents, there are also different varieties specific to different cultures. In the next few minutes, you will read about 10 essential ingredients in a Nigerian kitchen. This was not an easy list to compile because Nigerian being the most populous country in Africa has over 300 sub-groups, tribes and languages. Of which the most popular is Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa. However, there are various other sub-groups that are not wildly spoken for, but in total makes a large percentage of the country. Hence why it was important for me to choose items that I believe you will have a high chance of finding in any Nigerian kitchen. Well, let’s say you will find at least 80% of these items in a Nigerian kitchen. My selections are based on both my upbringing and interaction with Nigerians locally and in the diaspora over time. Here is my list of 10 essential ingredients in a Nigerian kitchen: 1. Plantains Plantains are the hybrid version of bananas. Popular in Latin America, the West Indies and of course across Africa. Every Nigerian knows about and have eaten plantain (if you are a Nigerian that hasn’t eaten plantain, please return your passport! Ahaha just kidding!). Plantain is embedded in the Nigerian food culture, from the yellow sweet plantains to the green plantains. Plantains are also a go-to side dish with the popular Nigerian jollof rice. Did you know you can use plantains in cooking the same way you would use potatoes and bananas? These days you can find meals like plantain pancakes, gnocchi, bread etc. Below is a list of classic Nigerian plantain dishes: Dodo (Fried Sweet Plantains) – a.k.a the best friend to Jollof rice. Kpekere (Plantain chips) Plantain pottage – The plantain version of the simple one-pot dish typically made with yam cooked in a blended mixture of tomatoes, peppers and onions. Also known as ‘Asaro’ in the Yoruba language. Plantain Peppersoup – Spicy and hearty soup with plantain chunks and meat or fish. Perfect for the cold weather. Also known as ‘Ukodo’ in the Urhobo language. Boli (Roasted plantains) – A popular Nigerian street food. If you love plantains, check out these 4 Ways to Prepare Plantain Around the World. 2. Palm oil Oil is a big deal around the world and one of the most commonly used and produced oil in Nigeria is Palm oil. According to the World Bank, Nigeria is the largest consumer of palm oil in Africa. Palm oil is used in various cultures across the country to make dishes ranging from soups, stews, pottages, sauces etc. Palm oil has a high smoking point of 235 degrees celsius making it one of the best oils for frying. 3. Black Eyed Beans Honey beans and black-eyed beans are the most popularly used beans in Nigeria. Black-eyed beans are the go-to legume in Nigerian homes locally and in the diaspora. Meals such as Moi-Moi (bean pudding) and Akara (bean fritter) are two classic Nigerian ways to transform simple beans into something exquisite. 4. Rice If rice is common to mankind, I will say it is a necessity to a Nigerian. That’s just a little bit of humour, but in all honestly, Nigerians eat rice almost like we drink water. Well somewhat close. This is evident in the various rice dishes we have, the most popular one being Jollof rice. Various types of rice are farmed and produced in Nigeria, especially long-grain rice. However, the showstopper rice of Nigeria is what is known as Ofada rice. Ofada is ‘The Nigerian Rice’. 5. Stock Fish (Or any smoked dried fish) As much as I can remember and I believe even beyond that, stockfish has been a huge part of traditional Nigerian cooking. My parents, grandparents and their parents before them used stockfish not just as a protein in dishes but as a seasoning. Most Nigerians still use it today in soups, stews and sauces. You can imagine my disbelief when I found out that Nigerians do not produce stockfish but rather is it imported from Norway. This adds up as stockfish is unsalted cod that has been dried in cold air, which is not a common practice in Nigeria. Every Nigerian sub-group, culture, tribe and/or religion has a loved rice dish. Hence why it made it to my 10 Essential Ingredients in a Nigerian Kitchen, similar to all the other items on this list. 6. Smoked Crayfish Similar to stockfish, crayfish is a unique delicious additive to Nigerian cooking. It comes in handy for soups, stews, rice dishes, potages and more. It adds a great flavour in its whole form but is also great as powdered seasoning. 7. Garri Garri is a type of cassava flour a.k.a milled cassava. Cassava is grounded, fermented, drained of excess starch then toasted. Garri can either be yellow or white. for the yellow Garri, the fermented and drained cassava is mixed with a little palm oil before toasting. These are the two classic ways Garri is eaten: Eba – Garri mixed with hot water to form a dough. A type of “swallow” that is used to eat soups and sauces by moulding into small dumpling to dip into the sauce or soup. Swallow is the generic Nigerian term for these hot dough dumplings. Soaking Garri – Just as the name implies, it is Garri that is soaked in cold water. It’s basically a cold porridge typically made with ice water, sugar and optional additives such as milk, peanuts, coconut flakes. Soaking Garri is also great served with Moi-Moi, grilled fish, and bean dishes. 8. Spice mix Spice mixes are popular amongst Africans and the black community at large. A combination of different spices, herbs and seasonings always takes a meal to a tastier level. Some of the most common spice mixes in Nigeria are: Suya spice

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