Still not doing much Nigerian cooking

I’ve confessed before that I can’t cook Nigerian dishes aside from a few staples. To me, the most important thing to master is various stews, from the basic obe ata (basic pepper stew) to the more complicated ogbono or egusi stew. My mother is not to blame (she tried, oh she tried, and for two decades I resisted her efforts and tactics, including the times she would get angry and tell me that since I didn’t help cook the food I could not have any). I was spoiled too because my father also cooks, so I really didn’t feel I had any reason to hang around the kitchen. Now that I’ve been living on my own for over a year, I think of the delicious foods I used to eat regularly and I’m sad that I can’t recreate them (is this what is referred to as “getting what I deserve”?). When bloggers like Ms. O whip up delectable delights I’m jealous and I have to confess that although I’ve requested recipes from her and others (and received them), I’ve never recreated the recipes in my own kitchen.

And I have a beautiful kitchen, one that practically begs me to use it.


(The cutie in the picture is my mom.)

Almost a year ago, I went to my parents’ place for a lesson on cooking obe ata. I think my mother probably made her first obe ata at the age of seven. I’m 31 and I still have not made my own pot of stew all by my self (my mom was directing me that last time). I thought by now I would have graduated to more complex stews but instead, I’m still working on stocking my kitchen to prepare Nigerian food. Winter is coming and I would like to be able to make some delicious stews. Last week I made a first step: I bought myself some Maggi cubes:


I just need a few hundred other ingredients (see the comments on this entry for specifics) and next week I can start the cooking experiment in earnest: my goal is recreate the obe ata and have it taste good.

How do your cooking skills rate?

30 thoughts on “Still not doing much Nigerian cooking

  1. gng:-for u to still be using maggi cubes , u musat not have been in a kitchen for a cvery log time.knorr is the in thing

  2. Mostly awesome, I pretty much learnt by watching and experimenting. It's no biggie if you can't cook Naija food, that's what friends and Naija parties are for.

  3. Hey Lady, It's been a while. Anyway as for cooking, i think i'm a natural born cook, who only started cooking regularly last year when i started med school. My mom used to force me down to the kitchen to watch her cook, but i hardly ever cooked anything. So i learned the theory part of cooking but had no practical experience.

    Only for me to find out when i started cooking last year that it comes naturally to me, as in, my food always tastes really good (according to my sister and her fiance). I make up recipes too, by remixing some nigerian dishes. I enjoy cooking and it definitely came as a surprise to me.

    I think u just need to dive it and see how u fare. Nothing to be too worried about.

  4. lol@ "getting what i deserve"; talk about just deserts, lol…

    Cooking really isn't that hard; i cook, my brother does too – infact we all do, and we all boys – i dont hav a sister. Just switch on that cooker and put your back into it – but dont invite anyone over the first time, it just might bad… :D

    @MizCynic: Yeah, knorr and onga and the rest of 'em are the in-thing now, but maggi never went really outta fashion. Just ask my mum, she'll tell u maggi a classic, u know, like Bach and Beethoven.

  5. I would rate myself as a pretty good cook.

    Like you GNG, I grew up never having to cook, my mum did all the cooking whilst everyone else did all the eating (and the washing-up afterwards). Going away to uni left me with no choice but to learn to cook. My first few attempts were bad but eventually I managed to perfect my cooking skills and now not only am I good but I actually really enjoy cooking.

    When it comes to cooking it may help if you watched your mum as a child but some of my best dishes come from receipes that I invented myself. Thats what makes cooking fun. Get creative in the kitchen…shoo if I had your kitchen girl I'll never leave the kitchen, lol.

    Good luck.

    If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

    Lol at Omosi T's comment.

  6. As most commenters already mentioned, I learned how to cook thanks to my mom FORCING ME to sit in the kitchen to watch her cook. And when I was 'older' ie around 9/10, she would actually sit back and supervise while I made soups and stews- she would give me step by step instructions on what to do, at the time I hated it but now, I look back and see what a fantastic gift that was! I plan on doing the same for my kids.

    How good am I of a cook? Well there are times when I cook a whole pot of stew for everything to be gone by midday the next day.

    Also, I broke brackets off my braces TWICE trying to munch on some delicious 'assorted meats' in stews I made.

  7. •Mizcynic

    Is there a difference between Knorr and Maggi? I thought both were bouillon cubes used for the same purpose?

    •Omosi T

    Lol I don't want to be one of "those people" who brings takeaway containers to parties. People hosting parties will stop inviting me! It's related to that "teach a man to fish and he eats forever" thing. There's no reason I can't learn; must stop being lazy. 


    It has been a while; hope all is well. Ah, natural talent in the kitchen! That is really great. Do you ever use cooking as stress relief? I'm not sure I'll ever have a genuine flair for cooking but at the very least I will be a competent cook. 

    And thanks for the momplement ;)


    Just desserts! Well said. I am definitely getting my just desserts. I'm glad you and your brothers learned to cook; it's a skill that always comes in handy. Lol at the advice not to have anyone over for the first meal. It's good advice sha. 


    I went to a local uni so I lived at home while getting my education. I'm glad to hear that you went from zero to pro with practice. And you make a good point: I was never the cook when it came to naija fare but I'm a great cleaner-upper! Thanks for the good wishes; I need them!


    Wow! If that isn't a testimony to your kitchen skills, I don't know what is. When can I come over for dinner?

  8. Love your kitchen GNG, its so nice.

    I think the only way to cook is to cook. It will come with time and practice. This is advice from one who regularly gave up burnt offerings everyday as a teen. My mum wondered with despair if we (Myself and my twin) would bring her shame when we got married:)

    That is a thing of the past because we no longer read while cooking:) since we are now cooking for ourselves and we buy the food so we know how expensive it is.

    As for grade of cooking, those who eat it attest that the food i cook is delicious, I have never invited anyone over who spits it out in disgust LOL, maybe they were too polite to tell me LOL!

    Anway I love my food and you will too, im still experimenting, my favorite dish these days is Nkpodo, I dont know if I spelt that right, its pepper soup but with yam and all sorts of yummy meats, fish and spices, the other day I made it with plaintain seeing yam is scarce and expensive here!

    All the best, and don your aprons and cook! :)

  9. Lol …I don't know if I should say this is cute because it may encourage you to stay 'cute' hehehe

    I never answered my mother when she would call me to the kitchen to cook. I used to have to wash meat etc etc and maybe make okoro here n there but that was it really.

    The best way to start is by actually just STARTING lol . Practice makes perfect and i you still fail then just grab a phone and call some friends up or your mother. I dare not call my mother she will insult me!

    I learnt and started cooking about 5 years ago. I'm not the best and I'm not bothered about that tbh there can only be a few Ms.O's hehehe she actually helped me out with Jollof rice one time!

    If you can't start on your own call some friends over. You'll get different tips.For example once I invited my Ibo friend and Yoruba friend over and they both cook stew, fried rice , jollof rice differently. it was great learning all the ways.

    I need to move onto the bigger stuff like 'Asaro' lol I know the 'know how' but I've not put it into action yet.

    sorry for the long comment hehehe!

  10. Knorr is different from Maggi cubes, I think. I haven't used Maggi in years so I really don't remember how it tastes, but I think Knorr is really good.

    As for cooking, I think you should watch your mother do one dish, and then go home and cook that every week for like a month. You'll definitely perfect it. And when you have one down, I think the whole cooking thing starts coming naturally.

    Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

  11. I think cookin like everyother thing needs practice to be perfect..though I know some people just have the touch like my sis.

    me, I learnt to cook by fire and force at my eldest sis' house. She bought the ingredients left for work and with the only instruction being 'prepare Oha Soup'. Talk of 4 kids and a husband who is a super cook being the tasters. "urgh what did Aunty make?' Ginger, this soup is fit for prisoners'. After that embarrassment, I paid more mind to mom in the kitchen and now I'm a happy good cook. baking is another story…

  12. First of all, I'd recommend Knorr cubes over Maggi…

    Not a particularly great cook myself, unlike my younger sisters who are culinary experts…but I'm glad to have passed the "obe ata" and vegetable/ogbono soup stages…lol.

    Just keep practicing, and ask for help as many times as u need it…b4 long, u'll be a guru…

  13. Funny enough I actually started cooking actual meals like 5yrs ago, when I moved to Ottawa for school. Just like most young ladies my mum forced me to watch her in the ktichen, but I never really paid close attention. When I moved to unviersity and had to survive, I called my mum one sunday after church and said ok I want to make stew and fried rice what do I buy, She gave me a list, I went to food basics and got everything and she taught me OVER THE PHONE!..

    Now 5yrs later I am helping other people cook and have found a deep passion in cooking. The only way to learn how to is to start my dear. baby steps (like buying maggi..hehe). and if you need any more help, call a friend or your mum….I am just a phonecall away too!

  14. well, i started learning to cook a few years back. it takes patience, and just because your 31 doesn't mean its too late to learn how to cook. You just got a late start in life, that's all. I did the same thing too. lesson learned. So, now devote yourself to cooking now, let it become a hobby and past time.

    Peace, love and soul.

  15. Yeap. Definitely getting what you deserve. But fret not. You're not alone. Oh, no, I'm not with you. But I know that somewhere out there, there is someone having the same problem. LOL.

    Now, per cooking, I think the only reason why it's taken you three long decades to attempt it is because you're over thinking it. Do like NIKE: Just do it! If it doesn't come out well the first time, it'll be better the second time. Allow yourself to make mistakes. That's the best way to learn.

    Oh, and by the way, my cooking is finger-licking good. Just thought you should know. Not trying to rub it in —- a lot :-)

  16. That your kitchen is lovely, I could spend a whole day there.

    I love cooking, thanks to my mom who forced me to learn how to cook. for me it is an art, something I wanted to resign for (and open a resturant) but realized that in Lagos I might not make much money cos I dont put much pepper in my food.

    It is not too late to learn how to cook. There are many things you have determined to do and were successful in them. Who knows, I could be talking to the world's No 1 cook if only you let yourself be….

  17. GNG, why must you tease us by putting a picture of your mother instead of yourself? Lol. Anyways, good luck with the cooking thing. It just takes practice. When it comes to Naija dishes, I can make rice and stew, jollof rice, and meatpie. I need to learn how to make all the soups before I leave home….

  18. You'll be fine GNG, just make a start one day! I think you already have everything you need: your mum and dad are great cooks, so you can count on their advice. Don't be afraid to make a few mistakes. Once you've perfected Obe ata, everything else will fall into place.

    PS: your mum is a real cutie :)

  19. I am not the best cook in the world but I can throw down every now and then. I could so relate to you; I grew up in a mission house with so many girls and felt like my place was not in the kitchen. My aunt yelled and did all she could but you'll find me with the guys – pushing wheel barrow with kegs of water (kitchen? not my place!!).

    One afternoon, I got so hungry and there was no one home to cook. I got in the kitchen to make eba and did not even know how long the water was suppose to be on the stove…nway the eba ended up looking like quaker oats mixed with rice krispies… i ate it with joy & pride n concluded it was time to learn (14 at the time).

  20. â–ºTomi

    Thank you…I got to pick the colours of cabinets and tiles…I think that's why I like it so much.

    lol…I'm sure a great cook by now (though the bit about the burnt offerings of your teen years made me laugh!).

    Oh wow…I've never heard of, seen or tried Nkpodo…you'll have to share a picture of it the next time you make it!

    And I hear you on the cost of yam here…ridiculous! Thanks for the good wishes…I must get myself to the kitchen asap.


    lol you're right o…I must get going already instead of writing about it. Two weeks later and I haven't attempted to prepare any Nigerian dishes – shame on me!

    You've got some great tips for perfecting my technique…I really must join the ranks of Nigerian woman who can hold their own in the kitchen…I don't want to be embarrassed one day!

    â–ºSuzanne Brume

    Thanks for the vote of confidence for Knorr. I think I already have some Knorr cubes but as you can see from the picture I'll be cooking with Maggi for a while! ;)

    I like your game plan…I must make plans to visit home when my mom is a)home and b)cooking something!

    I'll definitely keep you posted.


    Darn…you see, practice makes perfect doesn't work with my lazy girl attitude…I want to just have "natural talent" or be perfect on my first try (I know, I'm very unreasonable!).

    LOL @ "urgh what did Aunty make? Ginger this soup is fit for prisoners"! Hilarious!

    Hmmph, baking is a piece of cake…baking is a science…follow the recipe perfectly and use your measuring cups and spoons and you'll be brilliant. It's the art of cooking that stumps me!

    Thanks for the smile!

    â–ºAnoda Phase

    I must remember to ask people why they prefer Knorr over Maggi!

    hehehee…if you have passed the obe ata and ogbono/vegetable soup stage you're an expert in my eyes!

    Thanks…I really have to practice — no more excuses!


    hehe…you may have a wait a while before my cooking is good enough to be consumed by humans ;)

    â–ºMs. O

    Only five years ago and look at your passion for cooking now! Well that's certainly encouraging!

    Your advice makes perfect sense…thank you for your willingness to help…it's much appreciated!


    Thanks so much for the love and encouragement…it is much appreciated!


    hehe…thanks o…I'll keep you posted.

    â–ºTolu Akanni

    Why thank you!


    Oh, I can't wait to try your egusi…I love it! Hurry up and come to Canada o! Hopefully I'll have a car by then so I can come and visit!

    â–ºVera Ezimora

    lol…thanks for nothing you meanie!

    Good advice sha on the whole just do it thing with regards to cooking.

    Since you've promoted your cooking so well, I'll be sure to stop by your place on my next USA trip!


    Aww, thanks. I'm blessed with that kitchen, I must admit.

    Your comment was so encouraging…thank you!

    â–ºRichard Chidike

    Oh, I think more women than you think!

    â–ºNaija American Girl

    Thanks for the encouragement…hehe, you're the meatpie queen! I know you won't leave home before learning how to make the soups sha!

    hehe…there is/are one or two pics of me on the blog…older entries :)

    â–ºFavoured Girl

    Of course my big problem is the whole procrastination thing so you're right that I just have to start. Only God can help me!

    Thank you; my mommy really is adorable…I love the woman to bits!


    Thanks dahlink. Body dey o…hope you're well too!


    hehe…the experience you had at age 14 is what I'd have today if I tried to make eba…I've got to try it though!

    I guess as they say hindsight is 20/20. If I knew then what I knew now I'd definitely have paid more attention to cooking!

  21. Mrs. I . U .A. :
    cooking is a lot of fun, especially when you are cooking for the ones you love. Just be happy, relax, love and feel the love of the people you are cooking for and the rest is history….a wonderful one.
    Happy Cooking and Enjoy!!!

  22. It pains me that I do almost everything as a man, but not cooking. Soon, Ill be graduating. I can only cook beans, fry plantain and yam, and eggs too. Is it not bad enough?

  23. A late starter is not a failure, just that things started off quite late. The important thing is getting on and becoming familiar with what seems like a mountain to climb.

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