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Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Experience the Mouthwatering Ikokore Delicacy This Festive Season. Here is how to prepare it.

Its the magical season of Christmas. Arguably the best season of the year, it's a season of lights, a season of thanksgiving, a season of giving and receiving of gifts, a season of relaxation and time out with family and friends. It's also a season of cooking delicious, mouthwatering delicacies.

One of such delicacies that you can try this season is called Ikokore (pronounced E-ko-ko-re), which is a special water yam pottage. To obtain the indigenous recipe of this delicacy, I had to seek the assistance of a son-of-the-soil, a Chef in his own capacity, a friend and a brother Mr Tunde Adeyemi, who was more than willing to share from his wealth of experience.

Here is his recipe

Ikokore is a delicacy of the Ijebu people of Ogun State in South-Western Nigeria. It is a yam pottage dish made from water yam (isu ewura) as against the normal and more common white yam (isu egbe).

A bowl of Ikokore

Ikokore is known for and made incredibly tasty and enjoyable by its rich quantity of meats contained in the meal, the more meat you add the tastier the meal. I am going to be setting out the recipe as I like to eat the meal, so there will be no pepper contained here (yes, I know it sounds oxymoronic - a Yoruba man who does not eat pepper. But I am one and it’s true, deal with it).

Ingredients (To serve four people)
  • Water yam
  • 2 Cooking spoons Palm Oil
  • 2-3 Cups Chicken or Beef Stock
  • 4-5 large tomatoes
  • 2 large capsicums (tatashe)
  • Beef One-Half Kg (boiled) (it does not have to be beef, you can use mutton, chicken, goat meat, gizzard or whatever your preference is. And you could always use a combination of different kinds of meats as well)
  • 1 smoked fish
  • 1 large piece of ponmo (cow skin)
  • 1 Teaspoon Ogiri Ijebu (Fermented Locust Beans).
  • 2 seasoning cubes
  • Salt to taste

Cut up your water yam into pieces. Peel each piece then grate using your grater. I prefer the yam being in large pieces as this gives you better purchase on the pieces when grating. Mind your fingers as you reach the last bits of the pieces of yam though, so as not to give yourself nasty grater-inflicted bruises.

When you’re done grating the yam, add some salt and mix together - you can use a ladle, but I prefer the way my mum does it with her hands. Just grab a handful of the yam, pull it up and mash with the rest of the contents of the bowl, repeat the action until you’re sure you’ve mixed it thoroughly. Then leave the mix to stand for a while.

Dice your meat and ponmo into small pieces, then shred your fish and set aside until later.

Blend the tomatoes and capsicums (tatashe) till smooth and set aside. If unlike me, you’re a pepper eater, you can add 3-4 peppers (ata rodo) to the mix and blend together. (Personally, I prefer to use a mill for grinding my tomatoes & peppers as against a blender, so I’d have ground them before I started anything else).

Get a pot and place on a burner/hot plate on medium heat. Ensure your pot is properly heated (any drops of water in it should sizzle and have evaporated before you start cooking). When it’s hot, add the palm oil, then the ogiri,. Fry the ogiri for a couple of minutes, then add the blended tomatoes and tatashe mix, then a pinch of salt and half a seasoning cube to taste.

Fry the mix till the oil floats to the top. This should take somewhere between 8-10 minutes, ensure you stir the mix often to prevent burning.

Now, add the Chicken /Beef Stock if you’re using any, if you would rather not use stock, just add some water, continue to cook for about 5 minutes.

Scoop the grated yam into the stew, do this in lumps - again I prefer to use my hands for this as against a ladle. You can use both big and small lumps. The small lumps will dissolve in the stew, forming the tasty mushy part of the meal, while the bigger lumps will create the lumps of yam that form the more tangible part of the dish. Do not stir yet, leave the contents to boil for about 10 minutes on low heat.

Then you can stir a bit. Now, taste for salt and seasoning, add the diced meats and shredded fish into the pot and stir to get an even distribution of the meat into the meal.

Let it cook for about 5 minutes and it’s ready to serve.

Total estimated cooking time: One hour.

Ikokore can be taken alone as a meal. You may, however, want to go the indigenous way and serve with cold eba or soaked garri.

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