Nigerian Flavours

Cake Mix to Hot Buns

How to make Hot buns from a pack of cake mix

Did you know you could use your regular store-bought cake mix for more than just cake; I bet not! I made these soft hot buns with a sample pack of cake mix. They are so delicious and can be made with different flavours. I like to call these the twin-like cousins to Nigerian puff-puff. Puff-puff is a popular snack and dessert in most Nigerian homes within the diaspora. It is similar to doughnuts but very few people know of Hot buns which is more cake-like but without the baking; Just like Fried-rice is to Jollof. How to make Hot buns from a pack of cake mix: Open the pack of cake mix and pour content into a bowl. Pour in the milk and whisk into a think batter. Heat oil in a deep pan or fryer on medium-high heat. Scoop the batter with your hands and press the batter between you thumb and index finger into the hot oil. This will drop like tear drops. Turn and fry on both sides for 3 minutes until its golden brown in colour. Remove from oil, place on a sheet of parchment or tissue to drain excess oil. Serve warm. If you’re not a fan of yeast or waiting for the batter to rise, you would love this. Also, if you simply prefer anything cake-like or struggle with baking; then these buns of delight are your yummy and less chaotic alternative.

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Simple Kale Stew and Sea Bream (Efo-riro)

I love a simple fry-up of mixed vegetables and lately, Kale has been my favourite. This recipe is a steal from the Nigerian classic: Efo-Riro; but it does not fully embody the delicacy. With respect to the culture of the Nigerian cuisine, I have refrained myself from outright calling this simple and vibrant stew ‘Efo-riro’. Hence, a simple ‘Kale Stew’ will suffice as a name for this dish. The Kale I used is not what is common in most western stores, these are ‘Cavolo Nero’ the Italian Black Kale; Freshly sourced here in Florence, Italy and are simply delicious. Efo-riro is the Yoruba (a Nigerian tribe and language) name for stir-fried green leaf based stew. I would tell you more about the origin of the name but I’m not Yoruba. I only found out about this name in my late teens. However, growing up even in Nigeria, I knew it as a vegetable stew. There is probably a more native name from the Nigerian tribe (Urhobo) that I belong to but my knowledge is not so clear on this. So I’m sticking with vegetable stew for now. The stew is delicious on its own but is enhanced by the addition of the Sea Bream. The fish is lightly seasoned with Chilli powder and salt, then shallow fried in the same oil used for the stew. The flavour then marinades into the stewed vegetables and produces a beautiful flavour. A fantastic meal almost anyone would love. I say almost everyone because I know not everyone likes fish/seafood. How to make Kale stew and fried sea bream: Cut the cleaned fish into 5 pieces and dispose the head. Season with chilli powder and salt, rubbing into each piece. Place a frying pan over medium-high heat, pour in the sunflower oil and fry the fish on each side for 2 minutes. Remove the fish and set aside. In the same pan of oil, toss in the chopped onions and peppers. Stir and fry until the onions start looking transparent. Add the chopped tomatoes and crumble in the vegetable cubes. Reduce heat, stir and let it simmer for 3 minutes. Pour in the chopped kale leafs, stir into the tomato sauce. let it simmer on low heat and cook for no more than 5 minutes. If you like this recipe, you might also like Meatballs in Green Chilli Sauce: New Nigerian Spicy Ayamase/Ofada stew.

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Shrimp turnover pies (Tasty Nigerian style meat pie)

Shrimp turnovers are not an immediate thought when you think of savoury pies. These beauties are made of a creamy filling and a buttery flaky pastry. Most have heard of Nigerian meat pies, Jamaican patties, English mince pies and Mexican empanadas; now I bring you these delicious savoury turnovers or pies, whatever you want to call them. The creamy filling and the buttery crust melts in your mouth and give a sense of warmth. I personally love them with a cup of tea. Every pie needs a great pie crust. I start with a 2:1 ratio of margarine and flour. I use margarine because for me it has the in-between taste and consistency of butter and lard (or most shortening). A combination of butter and lard makes a great pastry because you get the buttery taste and light flakiness from the shortening. Margarine is basically shortening that taste like butter, so it’s a win-win. Note: Before putting the pies into the oven, use a skewer to insert 2 or 3 holes. This will let excess steam out and let the pastry cook properly without soaking in the juices from the shrimp filling. I forgot to do so on this batch of pies, although luckily for me they still turned out great. However, I don’t want you to make the same mistake.

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Hearty and Vibrant Hibiscus Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is a winter favourite and a great drink for festive celebrations. Even beyond the festivities, a warm cuppa is a great accompaniment to a family dinner or just a chilled night in. This is a classic recipe with a vibrant addition of the Hibiscus flower. This hibiscus mulled wine ignites a much stronger flavour but is not overwhelming. Which makes it an authentic and traditional method of brewing with a contemporary twist. Aside from the obvious features of the Hibiscus flower. Which is its vivacious colour and taste, the plant holds a lot of health benefits. It’s been said that the flower aids in treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammatory and digestive problems. Hibiscus also holds nutritional values. It is rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. It apparently also speeds up metabolism to aid weight loss and assist in reducing anxiety. It’s a perfect addition to the loved, warm and hearty mulled wine The Hibiscus flower has been used in several cultures in Africa, the Caribbean and Asian countries. Typically used in drinks and desserts it also holds symbolic values to countries, such as Haiti and Malaysia. The name varies across different parts of the world. Such as zobo in Nigeria, sorrel in Jamaica and gumamela in the Philippines. I guess we can say this hibiscus mulled wine is a fusion of many cultures. You might also like these two other recipes with Hibiscus: Hibiscus Sangria (Zobo/Sorrel) Nigerian puff-puff with a vibrant hibiscus syrup

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