As comfortable as I am with greasy cheeseburgers and colorful pizzas, I was a little hesitant to accept my friends offer to cook me an authentic Nigerian dinner. But Ronke Akintunde, a native of Lagos and a member of the Yoruban ethnic group, was ready to challenge my taste buds.
She took me to K&K African Food Market (19490 Livernois, Detroit), to buy thyme, curry powder, rice and goat meat, and to Tropical Food Market (3020 E. Grand Blvd., Detroit) to buy plantains (a large, tan, banana-like fruit).
Ronke insisted that I help cook the meal, and we started with jollof rice. This is a dish that consists of rice, tomatoes, onions, red peppers, curry powder, thyme, Accent seasoning salt and beef chunks (you can use any kind of meat, although Ronke advises that firmer meat provides better results). We stewed the vegetables before adding the already-cooked meat.
Next, we cut some of the fat from the goat meat and boiled the meat in water, to which we added dashes of thyme, salt, Accent, curry powder, several beef-flavored bouillon cubes, one medium-sized onion, and red bell and jalapeño peppers. We let this boil for 45 minutes, and then fried it in vegetable oil to add even more flavor.
Lastly, we sliced the peeled plantains, seasoned them with Accent and fried them in vegetable oil for five minutes.
Finally, we were ready to dig into our feast. The meal was delicious! The jollof rice reminded me of Spanish rice, which I love. The goat meat was tough, but sweet. And the plantains fried to perfection! I had to admit it was one of the best meals I ever ate. Ronke shot me an "I-told-you-so" look.
Ronkes sister, Yemi Adedokun, and her husband, Remi, have made a business of preparing Nigerian food at their restaurant, A Taste of Africa (17338 W. Seven Mile, Detroit, 313-387-8056). Popular with both Nigerians and Americans, they serve authentic dishes such as goat, fried plantains, iyan (pounded yam in hot water), pepper soup, jollof rice, moimoi (bean pie) and foufou (a grainy soup with flour dough in it). Yemi says Americans seem to like the jollof rice and iyan, while Nigerians especially like the iyan and goat.
In any case, as Ronke so aptly put it: "Nigerian food is very filling. You dont eat it and get hungry soon after." Tracy Spurlin
Picture 1,773,200 pounds of food. Thats how much food the Food Bank of Oakland County distributed in the first five months of this year. It sounds like a lot, but the food bank is having a hard time meeting this kind of demand. Food and money donations are needed to keep soup kitchens, shelters and low-income individuals supplied. Call 248-332-1473 to help. Even though schools out, hungry kids 18 and under in Detroit and Hamtramck can still get a free lunch. From June 21 through August 27, the Detroit Health Department will be serving nutritious lunches at more than 250 neighborhood sites, including churches, playgrounds and recreation centers. To find the nearest one, or to volunteer to help, call the Detroit Health Departments Summer Food Program at 313-876-4438, or Elizabeth Quinones of the Hunger Action Coalition at 313-963-7788, ext. 28.