Nigerian Tomato Stew
The African kitchen is full of all kinds of flavors. I always heard the term Nigerian tomato stew, but I was never sure what it entailed until I wanted to make myself a pot. Growing up in the small city of Warri in Delta State Nigeria,we had this habit of eating rice and stew every Sunday for lunch. They say it is an Igbo thing, but I say it is a Nigerian thing.Growing up as the youngest child, it was my chore to pound the tomatoes and it took one heck of a long time because you had to pound it until it was smooth and most of the seeds were crushed. May be this this why it took so long to make a single pot of stew every Sunday. Now as I have evolved in the kitchen, I have added my own spin to it; plus technology with the blender makes the blending process much easier. I have seen recipes for tomato stew before and I have to say my mother’s is by far the easiest and it says exactly what it is, tomato stew, no tatase i.e. bell peppers used. It represents it’s name quite well.
I remember making mine for the first time, it was so lip smacking good. My recipe is filled with simple flavours and fresh herbs for effect and the taste is absolutely nostalgic. Okay here is a recipe for you. I promise it is easy.
6-8 plum tomatoes
1 1/2 large onion
4 habanero peppers i.e. ata-rodo
1tsp thyme or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
1tsp curry powder
1 1/2lb Cooked or fried meats
1/2 cup cooking oil(eye ball)
Salt to taste
Blend the tomatoes habaneros, garlic and the whole onion together in a blender(add little or no water). Heat up the oil and slice in the left over onion. Sauté until almost translucent; then add the thyme and curry. Stir to release the flavors of the herbs. Pour in the tomatoes and cook on medium heat while stirring occasionally (do not season) until the oil starts floating to the top; then add your meats and season with the salt and/or bouillon. Cook slightly covered until the oil floats to the top and the tomatoes has lost it’s tanginess. If you want it a little soupy, add about two cooking spoons of meat stock at this point and stir. Cook until the oil has floated to the top; making sure you keep stirring occasionally. Serve with potatoes, yam, plantains or white rice.
*Tip after blending the tomatoes, you could boil it until most of the water has dried and it has formed a slightly thick paste. Add into the cooking oil along with a little meat stock and cook until the oil floats to the top. This cuts the cooking time by half and reduces the tanginess of the tomatoes quite quickly 🙂
You could double the amount of oil and fry the stew; then strain out the excess after the stew is cooked.