Alhaja Modinat's Buka Stew
Recipe Category: Stews and Sauces
Cuisine: Yoruba
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Fresh from the stables of a Buka Madam in Lagos. An update to an already successful Dooney's Kitchen Recipe.
  • Palm Oil
  • Tatashe
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Ata rodo - scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
  • Water
  • Beef Stock
  • Assorted Fried Meat - you can also use grilled meats
  • Salt
  • Seasoning cubes
  1. Bleach the Palm oil. till it blackens. Now, this is what surprised me. I actually slapped my forehead when i saw her lift the lid of a smaller wide pot and pour the contents into the big pot she was going to make the stew with. Dooney's Kitchen Tip: To bleach palm oil. Pour into a pot, cover the pot set on high heat for 5 minutes, then turn down to medium/low heat for another 10 minutes. Allow the pot to cool down undisturbed. This is very very important to prevent kitchen accidents. Always cover the pot, always let it cool down on its own. DO NOT touch the pot or attempt to open the lid
  2. Reheat about 3 quarters of the palm oil and add chopped onions. This is a Dooney's Kitchen tip. Alhaja Modinat didn't do that, possibly because there is no time for that.
  3. Add the blended Ata Lilo (pepper mix) to the pot and add a considerable amount of water and beef stock to get the pepper really loose. Don't ask, that's what she did. I have a video of the consistency you should aim for on the @dooneyskitchen Instagram page. Don't forget to follow for all the juicy cooking hints, tips and videos. Ever wondered why Buka stew is very fluid, making it easy to consume with amala. hehehehehe. Notice too that I didn't boil the pepper mix beforehand too. Buka Madam's aint got time for that.
  4. Allow the pepper to reduce. This is where you have to learn a lot of patience. These women cook with roaring open fires that our home gas or electric cookers can't match, so be prepared for this to take longer than you expect. You also need to cook this with the pot open. Don't cover it. Condensation from the lid of a pot can actually affect flavour you know. I saw this on food network, and while Alhaja and many of her kind may not have been educated, they understand the principles of building flavour profiles.
  5. Check back in 30minute intervals depending on how powerful your cooker is and you will start to notice changes in the consistency of the stew, the colour, the aroma and taste. If you are well versed in Buka crawling, you will know when the pepper has almost reached that glossy/silky buka stew consistency. One thing to watch out for is a "ring of palm oil" around the pot with the pepper bubbling in the middle Once you start to see that, you are almost there. It will also serve you best to use a really good pot for this process. I am using a forged aluminium pot from Tower Housewares UK
  6. When the ring of palm oil starts to get wider and wider, add the rest of the bleached palm oil to the pepper, add salt and seasoning cubes. This further intensifies the flavour, like 5mins after you add this remaining oil, you will know you are on to Buka stew greatness.
  7. Add the fried meat, stir and allow it to braise in this gorgeous pot of loose stew. Depending on how well fried/grilled your meats are, you only need a further what 10minutes and you are done, as by then the assorted meats would have properly absorbed the stew, and they will be tender and finger licking good.
  8. My previous recipe said keep cooking until you see palm oil float to the top. I am taking that back now. No need. The picture you can see above was taken just after I added the meats, of which this was a short while after adding the second batch of palm oil. So, as soon as your fried/grilled meats are tender enough to tear apart with your fingers, take it off the heat. Now watch, when the stew cools down a little, voila, palm oil floating to the top. What i learnt from Alhaja is that Buka stew is not a fried stew, like regular home cooked stew. Buka stew is basically Alapa. My recipe for my grandmother's Alapa can be found in Recipeadia under the Stew Category
Recipe by Dooney's Kitchen at