When I was invited to Calabar to shoot episodes of the themed Friday Cookout shows on The Spot (on EbonyLifeTv Channel 165 on DSTV) last month, the producer asked me to come ready to cook on air and make tasty Nigerian dishes that could be ready within the 1 hour shooting time, be healthy and still pack a taste punch.
The first meal I chose to prepare is one that is a staple in my home because its really versatile, is ready in no time and is so yummy. Its my braised chicken suya dish that I make as a sauce sometimes to go with sides of rice or plantain or yam or I make dry to be eaten on its own like traditional suya.
I don't know many people that don't like suya in one variant of the other. These spicy, aromatic skewers of protein street food (anything from beef to chicken to offals) cooked over open coals with a wire grill placed over the coals is such a part of Nigerian culture, I really think it should be named THE Nigerian national dish. It is enjoyed by everyone regardless of tribe or religion. I honestly don't know anything that unifying except for The Super Eagles.(National soccer team)
I came up with this dish one evening. I really planned to make chicken suya the traditional way as one of the sides to entertain friends that were supposed to come over. I had doused the chicken with suya spices that I got from my favorite suya spot and kept the chicken in the fridge with the intention of grilling once people started arriving. The it rained. Tropical storm. People started calling to cancel. I had to figure out what to do with all this marinated chicken since grilling outdoors was also a no go. There was the additional problem of excruciating hunger for hubby and i since we planned to eat with the guests. Grilling in the oven would take too long. I decided to put the chicken pieces in a pot with a little bit of water and voila....This staple was born.
The beauty of this dish is that you can do everything to taste since people like their suya served in different ways and in different quantities.
To make my version that feeds 4, you will need the following ingredients:
- 8 chicken pieces - Cut into sizes you prefer. This assumes 2 pieces per person. I recommend making more than you need
- Suya spices (yaaji) - from your favorite suya spot. I don't recommend using the bottled stuff that's now available at grocery stores
- 1 chicken stock cube
- Salt to taste
- One red onion - sliced
- 3 large tomatoes - diced
- 4-6 efinrin/scent leaves
Wash the chicken pieces and place in a pot with a little bit of water. You can add water as you go along but the key to this dish is to have a very thick sauce at the end of the cooking process or to have it completely dry.
Add the stock cube, suya spices to taste and some salt
Cook chicken until it is cooked through and liquid left in pot is enough for sauce. If cooking chicken to eat dry, cook until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. The chicken will begin to brown and stick to the bottom of the pot, so stirring constantly is imperative.
Slice the onions, dice the tomatoes and chop up the efinrin/scent leaf and add to the chicken.
You want the vegetables to still be "alive" - to still have crunch to them so its important to add at the end of the cooking process
Stir through and turn the heat of. The steam left from the cooking process will cook the vegetables just enough to still have the freshness factor.
Serve and enjoy! This version is served with white rice and diced fried plantain.