Monday 20 April 2020

Perfecting my lessons in kitchen banditry

Ila Alasepo
A mouthful of chicken
Imitation they say is the best form of flattering and there is one act I have learnt too well from my dad and uncle. When I was out at the ethnic shop last Tuesday, I bought a kilo of chicken gizzards and another kilo of chicken drumsticks, this apart from the whole leg of lamb that I asked to be cut with the meat chainsaw.
I cooked the chicken first and then grilled it in the hope that it would be used in a simple tomato stew. The gizzard was supposed to be destined for a mix of gizzard and diced plantains in a chilli sauce. The grilling had considerably dried the chicken that it could keep for a while before use.
As I took the chicken out of the oven to make way for the grilling of the cooked lamb pieces, I left the drumsticks and gizzards in a bowl by the stove taking a bite or two of the gizzards, then the drumsticks and watched the contents depleting at the inspiration of my dad and uncle who usually stole into the kitchen at home as if to offer some help and escape with a piece of meat as a basic snack.
Cravings for something spicy
Obviously, one should not be surprised that a few rodent visits to the kitchen can change the quantity of ingredients laid aside for another purpose. Then yesterday, I decided I wanted to make Ila Alasepo, a variation on stewed okra, but not as fancifully decadent as the recipes. I had bought the okra as frozen, cut rings of fresh okra, bagged and frozen, it was the first time I would use it. Then out of the freezer, I took out 4 distinct kinds of chilli to be defrosted along with spicily hot scotch bonnets, all of which I blended this morning.
I had a bag of dried catfish cuts that I steamed for an hour, then prepared the pepper stew separately from the okra, before pouring everything in one pot and simmering until ready. By the time I knew things were done, all the chicken drumsticks and gizzards had undergone no further transformation apart from the mastication of my mandibles.
Then I wondered how this could be, the only excuse I had was I learnt to do this from my mentoring dad and uncle. I guess next time, I will just buy 2 kilos each just to forestall a mishap like this again.
Frozen okra fingers as chopped rings
Palm oil
Green bell pepper
Scotch bonnet chillies (use according to preference)
Long green chilli peppers
Diced onions
Salt to taste
Lamb stock from previously cooked lamb
Lamb pieces
Dried catfish cutlets steamed before use
Kaun – potash for the initial preparation of the okra
Seasoning with herbs, I don’t use seasoning cubes in my cooking.
You can follow the recipe with these limited ingredients or extend them as needed.

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