Since the minute my colleague Yewande Komolafe told me she was working on a cookbook about Nigerian cuisine, I’ve been longing for the day I could read and cook from it, cover to cover. The wait is finally over! “My Everyday Lagos,” an exploration of the richness and diversity of Nigerian food, is out in the world — and it’s out of this world.
If you follow Yewande’s recipes, you know there’s poetry in how she assembles flavors, each ingredient building on the last until the whole dish practically vibrates with deliciousness. Her book is a paean to the food of her childhood, filtered through her present life as a Nigerian in America.
“Food is the lens through which I explore and explain the world, and a return to self,” she writes.
There’s an excerpt in the Food section of The New York Times, accompanied by three recipes. First on my list is her iwuk edesi, one-pot rice with chicken seasoned with dried shrimp, Scotch bonnet chiles and irú — fermented locust beans that add an earthy, miso-like umami shimmer to the dish. (You can easily obtain them online.)
For a speedy vegetarian dinner, you could whip up Yewande’s plantains with tomatoes and jammy eggs. Based on the tomato eggs that are popular in Lagos and across West Africa, it’s a bit like shakshuka, though heartier from the addition of plantains.
On the lighter side, Colu Henry’s brothy chicken soup with hominy and poblano is based on pozole, but it comes together in a mere half-hour. A squeeze of lime at the end and some cilantro and scallions make it especially zingy and fresh. Even speedier are my buttery scallops with lemon and herbs, which are elegant enough to serve to company, achieved in 15 minutes flat.
Brand-new in our line up is Kay Chun’s mushroom galbi, a vegan take on the Korean dish. Instead of thin slices of beef short ribs, this killer recipe stars a mix of mushrooms and green bell peppers bathed in a gingery soy and sesame sauce. Serve it over rice for a meatless take on a classic meal.
Since you have the rice out anyway, why not simmer up a pot of creamy, cinnamon-topped rice pudding for dessert? (Not that I ever need an excuse.) Naz Deravian’s recipe is homey and just sweet enough, and optionally enhanced with golden raisins, egg yolks and butter for a glossy richness. It’s just as good warm as it is chilled, in which case you don’t have to wait to dig in.
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That’s all for now, I’ll be back on Monday.