So 1st January came and you told all your mates, “I’m doing Veganuary” but it’s two weeks in and now you’re struggling for new dish ideas. Or maybe you’re a long-term vegan looking to try something new. Whether it’s just for the month or it’s your usual lifestyle, we’ve put together a list of five vegan dishes to try. Take your tastebuds on a trip to Nigeria with these authentic Nigerian flavours.
Plantain is a staple food in Nigerian households and it is as much loved for its taste as it is its versatility. Coming from the banana family, it’s a bigger and starchier version of the yellow fruit and is rich in antioxidants. While we can often be found eating it fried, we also love changing it up and are big fans of roasted plantain aka boli. To prepare, pre-heat your oven to 170°C. Wash and peel some sweet ripe plantains with a sharp knife. Then pop them into the oven. Once golden brown, flip them and roast the other side and voilà. In Nigeria, boli is usually made by street vendors on charcoal grill, so you can also try this in the summer on the barbecue.
Though our moi moi might look like a cake it’s actually a spicy savoury tart. Moi moi is made from highly-nutritious Nigerian brown beans or black-eyed beans which makes each bite a great source of protein. The beans are puréed with red peppers, onion and scotch bonnet chili pepper before being steamed. This give the tart its light texture while staying packed full of flavour. In many traditional recipes, moi moi is cooked with crayfish or egg, but our version is completely free from animal products, even down to our creamy vegan homemade mayonnaise. Enjoyable hot or cold, it makes a healthy snack or side dish.
Jollof rice is a popular dish across Nigeria and the rest of West Africa and is made by steaming rice in a seasoned tomato and red pepper purée. Loved passionately by Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike, everyone will tell you their mum or aunty makes the best pot. We recommend keeping out of the debate and swapping the rice for superfood quinoa, for a vegan-friendly protein boost. Quinoa is a complete protein-source, containing all nine essential amino acids and it’s also a great source of fibre too. Jollof quinoa is one of our signature dishes and while we can’t give you our recipe we can tell you where you can sample it next.
Akara Onion Rings
Akara is a deep-fried bean cake and a breakfast staple in Nigeria. It is commonly accompanied by akamu (also called ‘ogi’ or ‘pap’) and is also a popular street food. Like moi moi, akara is made using brown beans, red peppers, onion and scotch bonnet. However, this time the puréed bean paste is thicker and shaped into balls before deep frying. If you’re an onion fan, then we recommend giving Nigerian food blogger 1Q food platter’s gluten-free akara onion rings a go.
If you’ve got as big a sweet tooth as we do, then puff puff is for you. With their doughy texture and golden colour, these Nigerian party favourites are similar to mini-doughnuts, but vegan of course! Sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, they make a great dessert. Be warned, puff puff is more-ish and we cannot be held responsible for any addiction you develop. If you’d like to try making it for yourself Nigerian food blogger Afrolems has a simple how-to guide.