When my brother Josh comes to visit, text conversations like this one ensue.
Me: How would you feel about us making Nigerian food some time this weekend? I'm thinking curry fried rice and peanut chicken kebabs.
Josh: Big fat yes on that.
And so we did. Since there are two recipes in this post, I'll keep my comments brief with these few observations:
- I can't recall ever having curried fried rice. Or fried rice without soy sauce. I've been missing out.
- In this global eating adventure, the dishes I've made from African countries have consistently been among my favorites. See my posts on Madagascar and Tunisia.
- My house smelled incredible for hours after preparing this meal. We made it for a late lunch, and when we got back from house church at something like 9:00, a pungently spiced aroma greeted us when we came through the front door.
- Honestly, I can't recall the last time I bought bouillon cubes, since I normally use Penzeys's soup base. But the writer of these recipes urged me to trust Nigeria, so I did. And Nigeria did not let me down.
- If cooking both dishes as a meal, I recommend this sequence of prepping/cooking: 1) Cook the rice; prep the peanut mixture and rub it on the chicken. 2) Play a game of Pandemic while the rice cools and the chicken gets acquainted with its coating. 3) Prep the fried rice ingredients, fry the rice, and cook the chicken. If you're using a grill, then somewhere in there you'd need to prep your grill.
Nigerian Curry Fried Rice
Adapted slightly from Global Table Adventure
Yield: 4 servings
1-1/2 cups long-grain white rice (uncooked)
2-3 Tbsp. oil (I used canola, and used more than 3 Tbsp.)
1 medium to large onion (yellow or white), small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. curry powder
2 cubes chicken bouillon, crushed
1 bell pepper (yellow, orange, or red), small dice
8 oz. fresh green beans, small dice
1/2 cup corn kernels (canned, fresh, or frozen)
Salt, to taste
Measure rice into a fine mesh strainer and rinse well under cold water. Then cook according to package directions. Ideally, do this at least an hour ahead of time and, when the rice is finished cooking, remove the lid and fluff with a fork, then let it sit for a while to cool off and dry out a bit. If you made the rice the day before, all the better.
Now prep all your ingredients. We used corn kernels as a basic size guide for everything we chopped. I like to organize ingredients as I prep them. So the onions went on their own plate; the garlic, curry powder, and chicken bouillon went into a little condiment cup together; and the bell pepper, green beans, and corn shared another plate.
Heat 1 Tbsp. or so of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.* Add the onion, and saute until softened and translucent. Add the garlic, curry powder, and bouillon and stir for just 30 seconds to a minute, then add the bell pepper, green beans, and corn. Continue cooking and stirring for a few minutes more, until the veggies are starting to soften, adding more oil as needed. Finally, incorporate the cooked rice, and keep on stir-frying until the rice is hot and a little browned, again adding more oil as needed. Taste and add salt if needed. Enjoy!
*We used my 12-inch cast iron skillet, which I anticipated would not be big enough for the whole recipe. So we went with half the onions, half the seasonings, half the veggies, and half the rice, removed that to a serving bowl, then repeated the process with the other half of everything. And we started heating the chicken skillet about the time that the first half of the fried rice was done.
West African Peanut Kebabs (Suya)
Adapted from Global Table Adventure
Yield: 4-6 servings
1-1/2 lbs. chicken or beef, sliced into strips*
1 cup roasted peanuts
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 chicken bouillon cube, crumbled
2 tsp. paprika
1-1/2 tsp. onion powder
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Toast your peanuts in a dry skillet over low heat, just until they start to toast and smell amazing. Remove from heat (and from the hot skillet) and allow them to cool while you prep other ingredients. (You could skip this step. It was my addition because I love the extra flavor hit you get when toasting nuts.)
Blitz the peanuts in a food processor until they're crumbled/finely chopped, but be careful lest you end up with peanut butter. The ol' Magic Bullet did okay with this task, but not great. Combine the peanuts with the ginger, garlic, bouillon, paprika, onion powder, cayenne, and salt.
If you're feeling authentic, thread your strips of meat onto skewers, then press the peanut mixture onto the meat. If you're feeling lazy, dump the meat into a gallon zip bag along with the peanut mixture, and give it a nice massage so the meat is coated nicely. Either way, refrigerate the seasoned meat for at least 30 minutes.
Cook over medium heat--in a skillet or on a grill--until done, being careful not to move them around too much, as the coating will fall off pretty easily.
*We used boneless, skinless chicken thighs; apparently you could also use ram.