Reimagining Nigerian Small Chops. And we can. Here’s why we should:
- We have the capacity and the breadth to
- There are so many interesting combinations which ‘hero’ the main, kind of celebrating the old with new twists
- Need more reasons to?
Travel has a way of expanding one’s mind – stretching it beyond the familiar. But travel doesn’t have to be ‘hop on a plane and go exotic’. Sometimes travel is being curled up on the sofa, weary feet tucked so long till you’re wooden when you try to stand back in reality. Sometimes travel is talking to someone new to your culture and customs and walking down the same paths with them.
Like when Z, a Cameroonian friend of mine waxed lyrical about beignets haricot. Puffpuff and beans. No, not green beans but cooked, brown beans. Yep. I was aghast, confused, how could they possible be an enjoyable combo? Guess what? A year later, I’m at an event space rentals serving up small chops and what happens? I have left over puffpuff and left over Frejon puree. The combination – triggered by Z’s memory was off the chain. And I’ve never walked a Cameroonian mile.
So, here are some ideas on the reimagining train. We begin with the humble PuffPuff. Puffpuff is amazing for the its flexibility and adaptability. Dip it, dunk it, stuff it, fill it – the options are endless.
PuffPuff – Suya Skewers
Because dough and meat are everything. And because Puffpuff and suya and vegetables make great bites. Doughy, spicy, clean and fresh. What more could you ask for?
Top with some zobo pepper sauce for the oopmh.
If you have the time, you could give your puffpuff surprise centres. Of balls – meat, fish, prawns – the choice is yours. Here’s how.
I agree that plantains of some sort should feature…but not mosa. So here are a few options if you’re a plantain lover.
Beans and Dodo, Take 1: Plantain with Frejon
Fried plantains are topped with a puree of cooked brown beans – in coconut milk in this case. To finish? A fine salsa with herbs. The combination is divine.
Beans and Dodo, Take 2
The idea of bite-sized portions of beans and dodo – vegan possibilities too – works well too. The plantains are cut, cupped and filled with beans. Here I make ‘fancy’ with waterleaf flowers :).
There are a number of variations that one could add – like topping with different things: herbs, fish, prawns,…
‘Beans & Garri’ Truffles
Beans and Garri are the combo of life and destiny. The combination of soft, spiced beans – mashed and rolled in crunchy, slightly sour garri is yum.
Recipe here. Add a touch of pepper sauce and you have a new fave. Trust me.
Y’all know how obsessed I am with Jollof…and of course, I was always going to stuff it in a pie or summ’in. And it was beautiful. Suya, green olives, herbs and a spicy Jollof encased in a pastry shell and deep-fried (sorry) is everything. Everything.
As is the next idea.
One could go down many routes with this. Here I went with dry fish skins instead of nori sheets and palm oil Jollof. Yummmmmmm. Try it. Today. Recipe here.
Garden Egg Bites
I loved these when I first discovered them a few years ago – garden eggs, crusted in garri and baked till crisp. One could deep fry them but…I don’t think that would be practical :). In any case, they’re easy to make-ahead and are delicious.
These are just a handful of ideas, nowhere near the potential and the possibilities with Nigerian small chops. I think however, it’s a pretty good start..
Most importantly, I think we must be willing and able to move beyond the foods we’ve always known, in the ways we’ve always known them. This is how we find ourselves, show ourselves, and fall in love with us, all over again.
What do you think? If you could choose one ‘reimagined’ small chop or think one up, what would it be?