Like my Abacha and Ugba post HERE, I have never made Nkwobi before, but I love it to bits. Despite being finicky about where I eat, Nkwobi is one of my exceptions. I simply ignore the surroundings of the joint and eat my fill with a cold bottle of Maltina or Malta guiness. I am remembering the heaped wooden bowls of Nkwobi, dripping in a delicious mustard coloured sauce as I am writing this. Nkwobi is love at first sight, first taste and first smell. Simply irresistible. The serving bowl was quite deceptive too, as the cow leg is piled high, and as soon as you tuck into it, it is gone in a few seconds. The wooden bowl, really isn’t a bowl, clever marketing. You are tempted to order another plate. Nkwobi joints are scattered all over Lagos and Abuja, and this foodie here knows all the best places courtesy of daddy. Daddy knew where to get the best goat meat pepper soup, Asun, Nkwobi and Isiewu. Isiewu I haven’t tried though, because the idea of eating the head of a goat quenches the carnivore in me.
It is funny how I have hounded most of my friends from other cultures to teach me how to cook their dishes. From Efik, to Ibo, to Edo, even parts of Yoruba land I have received tutelage, but it never occurred to me to ask how Nkwobi was made. It is one of those dishes you are almost automatically wired to see as special. Something you simply have to eat outside. hHey, those women who prepare it do an awesome job, no lie. Well, all that is about to change now. If like me, you have never made Nkwobi, welcome to a new experience. Mummy C, who gave me the ingredients for Abacha, also taught me how to make Nkwobi. I slipped up right at the end, which affected the colour and the taste slightly, and she pointed it out. Lol. I don’t intend to make that mistake again, nevertheless, I will still post this recipe as my first try. The next time I make it again, and get it perfectly, I will update the post.
Food blogging, is not always about perfect food. For sure, this is not what this blog is about. If I make a mistake, I’ll come out and admit it, as it will prevent someone else somewhere from making that mistake. My mistake is your own plus, as you’ll get it right on your first try. I really want you to get Nkwobi right, and squeal with delight in your kitchen. I created a logo for Dooney’s Kitchen yesterday and my tagline is “creating lasting food memories”. I believe this truly sums up my motto for this blog. I will be sharing that logo with you guys, including my business card, so you can tell me what you think. I will never forget the first day I made Nkwobi, never. In future weeks and months, when I have perfected it, I will look back at that first time and really smile at my progress. because I have created a lasting food memory. In the future, when I get to tell the story of my amazing Nkwobi, I will reference this post. My friends, family and children do not know yet what will hit them. I am already picturing serving huge portions of Nkwobi at parties and family functions and watching them lick their fingers. Lol.
So, for all the masters of Nkwobi, I hope I will not be criticised too harshly, this is was my first trial, and I am still proud of it. Lol
You will need
500g – 1kg of Cow foot – other people refer to it as cow leg or bokoto
3/4 of 1 red Onion
3/4 of a tablespoon of Ground ehuru spice – calabash nutmeg
Akawun/Kaun – potash
1 – 2 pieces of ata rodo – scotch bonnet /Habanero pepper
Utazi leaves – to garnish
Seasoning cube – knorr chicken preferred
1. Boil the cow foot in water, season with salt, seasoning cube and roughly chopped onion. If you have cooked cow leg before, you will know how notorious it is for taking forever to soften. Most times, I just use a pressure cooker which makes it baby soft. So, get out that pressure cooker today, you shouldn’t use it just for beans or goat meat. While I was lamenting about the time it takes to boil Nkwobi, Mummy C gave me this tip to hasten the process. Old wives tale or not, I am going to try it out. You don’t ignore the advice of elders, especially with things like this. So, here goes Mummy C’s Kitchen Tip: throw in 5 or 6 seeds of beans into the pot when you boil Cowl leg. Don’t ask me why. Lol
2. Boil the cowleg until it softens and has absorbed all of the stock. As you can see, I used big pieces of cow foot. When I bought it from the butcher, Nkwobi was not on my horizon. Next time, I will ask for it to be cut into much smaller chunks. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: if you already have big pieces in your freezer, simply divide the cow leg into two, and for one half, cut out the meaty part and discard the bones. Use the other half with the bones, for the Nkwobi effect.
3. When the cowleg is soft, dissolve kaun in 3/4 cup of water and stir. Sediments will settle to the bottom of the bowl
4. Measure out 2 cooking spoons of Palm oil in a pot. I used a saucepan to be able to show you the process, please use a deep pot. Mix in the kaun mixture, and stir. Be careful not to add the sediments. As you stir, observe as the colour changes to bright orange. A common mistake is to add too much of the Kaun mixture. This will give you a liquidy palm oil paste, that will not stick well with the cow foot. So, you need to add the kaun mixture in bits, and watch out for the consistency of cream and stop there
5. If you are using the whole nutmeg, just as I would do for Uziza seeds and groundnut for groundnut soup Recipe (HERE), lightly roast the calabash nutmeg in a dry frying pan for 1 – 2 minutes to intensify the flavour. (I learnt this from watching Food Network). Blend the ehu in a mill. Stir in the powder into the palm oil paste and add your ground ata rodo.
6. Add the cowleg and stir to properly coat the palm oil and kaun cream with each piece of cow leg. As you can see from the picture, I have a combination of the cowleg with the bone attached, and cut pieces of the meaty part.
As you can see from the picture above, this was perfect. I should just have stopped here, but I remembered that the Nkwobi I had in Lagos had some liquid sauce. Silly me, I added more of the Kaun water. When I tasted it, the potash was over powering, so I added Palm oil. Lol. tsk, tsk, tsk, I will never do such again. My perfect Nkwobi, with the right colour and taste is staring back at me in this picture, and taunting me if I may add. Lol. I was quite irritated, but oh well. You live to learn, I won’t do that again. Lol
………………………serve and garnish with onion rings and chopped utazi leaves. I only had the dried variety, so I soaked it in water to soften it, after which I sprinkled it in and stirred. If you have the whole leaves, chop finely and garnish.
Here’s my Nkwobi
I have decided to make Nkwobi my own. Apologies to all the Ibo food traditionalist, but I am going to try it with Turkey Gizzard, so watch out for my experience with that. As I wrote on the Abacha post, I am also going to explore making the Palm oil cream without Kaun. Mummy C has told me that Ncha is an alternative to Kaun, and much less toxic. Unfortunately, I don’t have ncha, so corn flour to the rescue.