#21 Date selected: 23/3/16 Date completed: 24/3/16
Country selected: Nigeria
Dining Selection: Cooked Own
What was on the menu:
- Beef Suya
Wednesday 23rd March 2016, 2.42pm
Another African country! With the amount of countries situated on that continent though I’m not entirely surprised and it looks like we’ve barely scratched the surface.
This time it’s Nigeria which is a large country on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic coast. The country has a huge population of approx. 182 million inhabitants and is the most populous country in Africa (7th most populous in the world). Because of this and it’s large economy, the country is often referred to as ‘the Giant of Africa.’ It has over 500 ethnic groups and a huge array of different languages.
I was interested to read that Nigeria was the first country to effectively contain and eliminate the Ebola threat when the virus ravaged Western Africa in 2014. Other countries (such as the USA) later adopted the unique method of contact tracing when Ebola threats were discovered.
The Islamist movement, Boko Haram has been the root of sectarian violence in the North East of the country since 2002. Nigeria made worldwide headlines in 2014 when Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from a Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok.
Being such a large country, the landscape varies. The far south has a tropical rainforest climate with coastal plains in both the southwest and southeast. There are mountains, plateaus and desert with much of the country being made up of savannah. The Niger River (the 3rd largest river in Africa) runs through the country and is where Nigeria got its name. The river’s source is in south-eastern Guinea and runs through Mali, Niger, on the border with Benin before reaching Nigeria. It finally discharges through a massive delta into the Gulf of Guinea.
Nigerian cuisine is known for its variety and richness with lots of different spices, herbs and flavourings used in conjunction with palm oil or groundnut oil. I like the idea of the numerous barbecued roadside snacks available and am looking forward to seeing what recipes are on offer.
Thursday 24th March 2016, 12.14pm
Nigeria actually has a wide range of recipes available online which I found relatively surprising. It took quite a lot of time for me to choose what I wanted to make. I actually ended up with a whole banquet of choices that I was going to try but then realised that the Melbourne International Comedy Festival was opening (a highlight of my year). I am heavily invested in the festival, having worked for them before as well as being involved in the comedy industry in other forms. I have a bunch of tickets for shows over the coming weeks and it’s going to reduce my available time significantly.
I decided to scale back the recipe choices to just the one to simplify things. I had been keen to try some of the barbequed roadside foods mentioned in my research and I really couldn’t go past Beef Suya – heavily spiced beef skewers.
The dish itself is actually quite simple to do. It involves making a spice mix (called yaji), coating beef slices with it and arranging the slices onto skewers that you grill or bake.
The Yaji spice mix was very simple to make but called for enormous quantities. I decided to convert it to a lesser quantity, using a tablespoon for every half cup of spices listed. This provided me with a spice mix suitable to coat 2 decent sized oyster blade steaks with enough left over to do a couple more. Perfect.
I’m pretty sure kuli kuli isn’t available in Australia. I didn’t look too hard as there was a suitable substitute but I don’t recall ever seeing it around. Instead I used a mix of freshly ground nutmeg (which I roasted for 10-15 mins in the oven before grating) and mace (which has a slightly stronger flavour than nutmeg). I used Hungarian sweet paprika but I’d be interested to see how smoked paprika went instead – I suspect it would be delicious!
When it came down to the cooking of the skewers, I decided to use the BBQ to grill them. As an Aussie, barbequing is a massive part of our lives though we tend to use gas fuelled BBQs rather than wood or coal. Mostly because we will BBQ a LOT during summer and we’re a pretty lazy bunch. Gas is an easy alternative, allowing us to BBQ as much as we like without having to go to too much hassle.
It didn’t take long to grill the Suya and, if nothing else, it kept the cat interested and in sight for the duration!
The end result was deliciously spicy beef. The spices caramelise and melt into the beef with the help of the fat. Be aware that it does have a BIG kick to it so if you’re sensitive to heat, you might want to consider reducing the amount of chilli powder you use.
The recipe suggests serving the skewers with tomatoes and onions. I’m not a fan of raw tomato (though I could see how the freshness of them would work beautifully with the meat). Instead I served them with fresh spinach and rocket, sliced red onion and a sliced boiled egg. Delicious!
I would definitely make this again – it would be great as an entrée or as part of a larger BBQ cook up. Certainly something I’ll be making again!
But not before I choose my next challenge…..