The Secret To Great Cooking According To Nigerian Mums


May 24, 2019

We live in a time where a quick Google search will give you access to recipes from world-class chefs. Despite this, on the rare occasion, I find myself cooking, and on the rarer occasion, it’s not Indomie, my first port of call for guidance is my mum. Who’s always laden with (often unsolicited) tips and tricks to make a great meal, gotten from decades and decades of experience. And that’s the same case for many people I know. I asked ten people to tell me what secret tips and tricks their parents had given them for great cooking.

The secret to fire Jollof.

My mum always puts a sheet of foil over the pot when she’s cooking Jollof rice and that’s what makes it so bomb. The Jollof never gets soggy and it has this almost party Jollof taste.

The only way to make Fried rice.

When I left home and didn’t have constant access to my mum’s cooking I realized many people don’t know how to make fried rice. The secret to great fried rice is literally frying the rice after you’ve parboiled it. You can tell when people skip that step or don’t do it properly. The rice gets soggy and the spices don’t enter it well.

Never grate okro.

I used to think my mum just wanted to punish me when she made me cut okro with a knife instead of just grating it. But the difference between the two is quite clear. When you are cooking, the chopped one doesn’t soften as quickly as the grated one. So when it’s done it’s still a little hard, that’s what makes okro really nice.

Use only wooden spoons.

My mum only ever stirs her Jollof with a wooden spoon and everyone tells me that’s is just in my head but I can taste a difference. Or maybe I just think my mum makes the best Jollof in the world, which she does.

A dash of meat stock please.

Anytime my mum wants to blend tomato and pepper for stew or Efo, instead of blending it water she uses meat stock. It might seems like a waste of time since many people still add the meat stock when they are cooking but it’s quite genius.

Sweet potato Ukodo

I’m not sure this is a secret tip, it’s just different. Much to the horror of my mother’s in-laws, she prefers to make her ‘Ukodo’ with sweet potatoes. So she’s not from Delta but my dad is and he’s the one who introduced her to Ukodo. As far as he and his family are concerned it’s not Ukodo. But everyone else who has tried the one she makes prefers it to regular Ukodo.

Perfect Ogi no matter what

Anytime I make lumpy Ogi which is a lot, my mum will have me put it in the blender and blend it just a little bit to get rid of the lumps. Worked like a charm every single time. Well except the time she didn’t supervise me and I turned the Ogi, into an Ogi smoothie.

No more spills

My mum hates cooking even more than me so I have nothing for you there. But my grandma taught me that if you put a wooden spoon across the top of the pot when making stew it’ll never boil over. I’ve actually never tried it but I’ve met a couple of people who swear by it too.

P. S. No fathers could be found during the conduct of this survey.

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