So I was really looking forward to sharing this with you and the day is finally here! If you can get hold of the magazine, then grab a copy and head straight to page 86. The brief was West African food re-imagined, and here was the menu and the inspiration for it.
S T A R T E R: Peppered chicken skewers with cashew nut butter
This chicken was aromatically spiced with Cameroonian pepper and yaaji, which is a popular spice along the west African coast. Yaaji was first popularised in the northern parts of the region but has over the years become a well-loved taste. Cashew nuts are a massive Nigerian export and have become increasingly popular as a snack, sold in bottles in supermarkets. The combination of flavours was something like a West African chicken satay, and was be a mouth-watering way to prepare the palate for the main meal.
M A I N: Brown jollof rice, airfried spicy plantain and Ivorian style grilled fish
Jollof rice is cooked all along the West African coast as both a quotidian and celebratory meal with different variations. The central concept though, is the same. Jollof is rice, cooked slowly in a delicious rich tomato sauce and served up for enjoyment. I chose to do a brown rice version because I believe this picks up on the universal West African appeal of jollof and blends it with a very cosmopolitan, topical conversation about healthy living. Using trendy brown rice in a traditional dish is something that I imagined forward thinking readers might enjoy. The plantain, I roasted in my new Philips Airfryer machine to make a type of spicy dodo which is also called kelewele in Ghana. Again, dodo is traditionally deep fried in oil, but I imagined the healthier oil-less frying element being of interest to readers, as it offered a practicable idea on how new technology in the kitchen can be used to re-imagine old classics. Finally, the grilled fish was homage to French West Africa because they make beautiful fish. I drew on the memories of tastes of fish I’d had in places like Lome and tried to recreate that in the oven.
D E S S E R T: Sherry Mango & Blackberry Torte
The dry harmattan season makes for the sweetest, juiciest oranges. Rainy season however brings wonderful, fleshy mangos and we were in the thick of the the rainy season when we shot this back in June, with frequent thunder storms, and heavy downpour. I thought it was a great idea to use mangeos for a dessert, while they were still so glorious. I can’t think of a single West African I know who does not love the taste of mangoes, so using this fruit in a sophisticated baked dessert is a great way to enjoy a fruit we can all identify with.
You guys can probably tell that these photos are waaaaay better than my usual ones right? That’s because we got a professional in to take them. If you would like to book him, head over to his website Wavelength Creative to check out some of his other work. He is really, bloody good.
It was a lovely, lovely day, and we had a lot of fun shooting and filming. Here is a nice one of me and Abi, before I started cooking (and she started interviewing me/writing/recording) and the heat of the kitchen melted off all our make-up. You like what we’re doing here Tyra? Smiling with our eyes? *insert ANTM theme music*
Thanks Forbes and Abi, you were a pleasure to work with 🙂