This is definitely for people who live outside of Nigeria. My last Ewa Aganyin post (click HERE) showcased ingredients that may be difficult to source for many people who don’t live close to Nigerian food Stores. Well, I heard your complaints, I listened well and thanks to my fabulous neighbour Funmi, I am bringing you a solution. You will still enjoy Ewa Aganyin, the taste is pretty close, the aroma is spot on, and I mean spot on, even my extra acute spidey sense taste buds and sense of smell will agree. How did I come across this recipe, well my neighbour served me a plate of Ewa Aganyin and I asked her what she put in it. It was a great confirmation for me because my original recipe did not include something she added, but a Togolese reader who left a comment on the original recipe said onions are good for the stew to help tone down the heat. BOOM!!
I just have to share how I met my neighbour. A very smile inducing serendipity story. You see, Funmi is also a Member of So You Think You Can Cook on Facebook. I have had my eye on her posts for a while because her food just looks amazing. I had left many comments on her posts, we had a friendly banter going on, little did I know she lives just a few doors away from me. Not until one fateful evening when she posted food again on the group and I spied her kitchen worktop. Honestly, I can’t remember what the food was, but what really caught my eye was the kitchen worktop covering. It was EXACTLY like mine. I thought to myself with my pulse racing. No way, No freaking way, Could it be, nah, not possible. OMG! I went through her other pictures, even more proof. She had the same kitchen cupboards, in the same location as mine, her induction hob which was peeking through some of the pictures was the same as mine, also in the same location. At this point I was so sure we had at least the same Estate Developer in common.
You see, many times developers use the same materials in furnishing their flats and houses, so I didn’t want to celebrate yet, just in case I was wrong and she lived far away from me but the same company built both our homes. I quickly sent her a message on Facebook. I was too excited to be polite. The message read thus “Hi Funmi, where do you live, who built your house, F——– Developers?”. I am sure she must have been thinking huh? Why do you want to know. It took some time before she responded and you can imagine, I could barely sit still. She responded people, with music to my soul. OMG, we lived in the same development. We moved in one month shy of each other in 2012. Can you beat that. We have been neighbours for almost 2 years, commenting on each other’s posts for like forever, and we never knew. Funmi literally lives a few doors from me. I can walk blindfolded to her front door. I almost wanted to race to her house, but this was 10pm, I had to observe British courtesy.
Since then, we see each other very regularly, she is one of the best things that has happened to me this year. OMG, it feels good to really have a neighbour that is amazing, warm, friendly and very genuine. She has brought food to me when I was ill, checked up on me, introduced me other friends and family who have embraced me warmly. I hosted her with friends and family on Sunday. She goes to the neighbourhood African store and picks things up for me. Remember my Buka Ewedu post (HERE), Funmi said she remembered me saying I missed fresh ewedu and she bought me 2 bunches when she saw some at the Nigerian food store. I have eaten in her house till I couldn’t walk. I closed at 9pm twice in one week, she opened her house to me and fed me freshly made food on both nights. Never realised people could still be this nice. Considering so called “friends” have showed me their true colours recently, I was beginning to wonder if I was the one that had a problem. It is quite refreshing to see the other side of friendship. Quite refreshing to know people who give back and truly show they value your presence in their lives. Facebook gets a lot of flack sometimes but I have met some pretty astounding people these past few months, that have come to mean so much more to me than people I have known for years. In another post, I will tell you how I met Lola. She lives just 9 minutes away from me. Another fabulous friend I found through doing what I do.
The connections I have made through this food of a thing, just confirms to me that The Almighty is listening to my prayers. For those of you I haven’t met, I want to say thank you again for filling my life with a lot of joy, colour and laughter. I pray that one day, fate allows our path to cross. I can’t wait to meet so many of you, you guys have no idea. So, courtesy of my new found neighbour, I bring you a very authentic tasting Ewa Aganyin stew.
You will need
1 cup of dried crushed chillies – you can find crushed chillies in any supermarket outside Nigeria, and also at Asian stores.
2 onions – Funmi recommended white onions because that is what she uses instead of red. I use red, so we found a middle ground. 1 white onion, 1 red onion
Palm oil – lots of it
The method is the same as mine, since Funmi came over to mine to make this, I just had to take pictures.
1. Blend the dried crushed chillies with onions and water to make a paste.
2. Heat up palm oil in the pot till it smokes a bit, pour in chopped red onions
3. Let the onions fry till it burns. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: the onions should fry to burn, but not to turn to charcoal though. See picture below
4. Once the onions have started burning, add the pepper paste and let it fry. As with my last ewa aganyin post where I mentioned you need lots of oil, with Funmi’s method, you do need lots of palm oil. Why you say? Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: you need the pepper to fry till it takes on the form and texture of small pebbles, or grainy like, like sand. Without lots of oil, the pepper will burn and taste bitter. I actually had to dash to the Nigerian food store quickly to get more palm oil. If you are wondering why the wooden spoon, you need it to stir, stir and stir, so the pepper can fry but not burn. Yes, a lot of splashes will occur at first, so protect your hands.
5. See, it is still frying, but you are not there yet, with the texture. See the oil below, although the contents of the pot are not in focus, you can see oil floating and bubbling on top.
One thing to note too, the colour is still red, you still have a way to go. Rememebr to stir stir stir. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: the art of stirring also aids the formation of that sandy, grainy texture.
6. With further frying, you can see the colour changing, getting deeper. It is also getting thicker and coming together. At this point, season with salt and seasoning cubes. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: you need to season at this point while there is still a bit of moisture in the pepper, to allow the salt and seasoning cubes properly dissolve and flavour the aganyin stew before it sets. This way, the flavour of salt and seasoning cubes, will develop along the stew.
7. You let it keep frying until the oil you were worrying was being absorbed by the pepper suddenly overtakes the pot, you will almost wonder if someone added palm oil behind your back.
8. Keep frying, you are almost there. See how dark the aganyin stew looks like? The characteristic blackness, with the dot, dot dot like grainy texture. The aroma wasting through your kitchen will tell you, you have a winner right there.
According to Funmi, stop right there, leave it on your cooker overnight, and continue frying the next day. The flavour will even be more intense by the second batch of frying. Funmi’s Tip: you only need the second fry to be short lived though, not as long as the day before, so it doesn’t burn.
You know me, I couldn’t wait. I was boiling a small pot of beans alongside it, so I was ready to whack ewa aganyin as soon as the stew was done. Here was my first taste. Doesn’t it look authentic. If you live in Nigeria, just use my original recipe HERE. You have access to Cameroon pepper and dried Shombo easily. This is for people who can’t source those ingredients. Thanks Funmi. Here’s to a long lasting and fulfilling friendship. I am grateful to The Lord for bringing you into my life.
Think of this sauce like the Ghanian Shito. As for storage, you can make lots of it and store in a sterilised jar. It doesn’t go bad because all the moisture has been zapped out with the lengthy time of frying.
I am sure you must be thinking, Dooney’s this is not your style, where is the food presentation you are known for, weeeeeeell, be patient. I have 3 wicked ways of using Ewa Aganyin stew, Dooney’s Kitchen style. The pictures will be released shortly. I am so proud of what I was able to work Ewa Aganyin stew with, if I may say so myself. Enjoy!!!!