BN Cuisine with Dooney’s Kitchen: Delightfully Yummy “Ofada” Sauce

My very first post on Bella Naija was a throwback to my Delta roots. I must tell you, it made Daddy proud. So as not to marginalise my mum, today I’m honouring the Ijebu side of me, particularly Iperu Remo because I’m not about to start a tribal war in my house.

Until about 10 years ago I think, this dish was a hidden jewel amongst the Ijebus, then it started being served at parties and in a short space of time, it became the rave. Back home, it is popularly referred to as Obe dudu (dark stew). It is also known as Aya Mase.

Aya Mase is served with Ofada rice, which is basically unpolished rice. Before the rave in Lagos, Ofada rice was cheap and not very common in the local markets. Within a short space of time, it was everywhere and also more expensive than imported rice, which was great for the local producing community.  Specialty restaurants sprung up, and the term Designer rice was coined.

I remember it was because it was more expensive than Jollof rice, and also highly sought after. Suddenly no party was complete without Designer rice. Rice served in banana leaves topped with a most delicious sauce. It is usually brought out after the main dishes of the party had been served.

Aya Mase is made with a combination of all kinds of meats. The preparation time is about an hour while the cooking itself takes about 30 minutes.

What You Need
6 cups of chopped meat -comprising of Beef, Fuku (lung), Saki (Stomach), Pomo (smoked cow skin), Cowleg, Liver, Heart, Kidney and Goat meat.
Stockfish (optional)
1 cup of Iru (fermented melon seeds)
1 1/2 cups of Smoked crayfish
2 cups of Palm oil - I’ll like to warn the health conscious. Aya Mase needs more Palm Oil than usual. It’s a guilty pleasure dish, like chocolate cake.
2 cups of chopped red onions
4 cups of pepper –  8 Green Bell Peppers and 10 Rodo (scotch bonnet/habanero pepper)
Knorr seasoning cubes
Sea salt

How To
Aya Mase is called Obe dudu because it really is a dark fried sauce. This is mainly achieved by bleaching the Palm oil. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip #1: One thing I do is to bleach a big batch of Palm oil and store, so I don’t have to repeat the process every time. This process will ruin your pot I’m afraid. So you need to dedicate a pot to it. Preferably an old one or just buy a cheap one. I learned that lesson the hard way. Trust me

1. Heat the palm oil in a covered pot for 10mins on high heat. After which you turn down the heat to low, for roughly another 5mins.

Mind you I am using proper thick village palm oil, not the stuff sold in sealed bottles. Which is usually the decanted light stuff. Local palm oil has a very high smoking point, so this timing works for me.

2. Clean the stockfish thoroughly, rinse the beef and goat meat. Add all in one pot, and season with salt and Knorr Chicken (preferred). Rinse the offals and do the same. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip #2: I boil my offals separately so as not to taint the beef stock.

3. Roughly blend the Green Bell Peppers and Rodo. Decant into a pot and place on high heat. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip #3: You need to boil the pepper till most of the moisture has evaporated.

4. Rinse the smoked crayfish and blend finely with a little water. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip #3: Roughly blending crayfish retains some of its flavor compared to fine blending. I blend with water rather than dry blend, so I can rinse out the crayfish. Crayfish is notoriously full of sand and dirt

5. Rinse the Iru – Dooney’s Kitchen Tip #4: When rinsing Iru, don’t drown it in water. Just enough water to rinse and pick out the seeds is sufficient, so you don’t throw the flavor down the drain.

6. When the meats are soft – dice into square cubes, about the size of a Knorr cube. Tear the stockfish into bits too (if you are using). Here’s where the hard work starts. Chopping the meat. This “express” cook tried to use a food processor once, and as much as I love the thing, it gave me shredded meat much to my annoyance, so it was back to the chopping board.

7. Decant the Palm oil into another pot, and turn up the heat. When hot, add the chopped onions and Iru and fry till the onions are translucent, then add the chopped meats and stockfish and fry. Turning regularly. You are trying to achieve a fried meat taste, not necessarily texture. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip #5: At first it’ll look like the meats have absorbed all the oil. Just stir regularly. As the meats fry, you’ll start to see the oil bubbling through.

8. Keep frying for 10minutes, then add the boiled pepper, and fry for another 10minutes. Keep stirring. It is inevitable to see some burnt bits. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip #6: You’ll soon realise why I said earlier, boil out the moisture in the pepper. At this stage, if you have watery pepper, all the time you spent frying previously will be wasted, as the water in the pepper will boil the whole mixture. When you add the pepper, the frying process should continue and not be converted into boiling.

9. Then add beef stock, in little quantities. You should need about ¾ of a cup to 1cup. Be careful now, you don’t want to drown the sauce. Remember, you also blended the crayfish with water.

10. Let his continue frying, and be topping up with stock on intervals, if needed. When you get to the point where you have a fried stew look when you turn with a cooking spoon, then you turn down the heat to low and just let it simmer for 3 – 5 minutes. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip #7: You’ll should see a thick creamy bubbly sauce float on the surface. If you don’t achieve this, the sauce is too dry. Add a little more stock and keep frying.

So, your Aya Mase is done. Take the time to taste at intervals, and re-season if necessary. Serve with boiled Basmati rice. If you have Ofada rice, just know I’m envying you already. I tired to source local leaves to plate this dish, but alas I couldn’t find any before this was published. If you do make this dish, and you have the leaves, please take a picture and email it to me. I usually kick it up a notch by serving Aya Mase with Dodo (fried plantain) or boiled yam. No one has complained so far. The sweetness of the plantains/yams with the savoury sauce is an amazing combination.

Dooney’s Kitchen Extra Tip
During the first 10 minutes of bleaching the Palm Oil, you’ll see smoke seeping from the covered pot. During the next 5 – 10 minutes, this will reduce till you can barely see/smell the smoke. When this happens, your palm oil is ready. Turn off the heat. DO NOT SHIFT THE POT OR OPEN IT. Leave it to cool undisturbed. You should be left with blackened oil. Remember, use the Extractor fan, and open the windows. The timing all depends on the volume of Palm oil you are heating up. If you are using more, you will need to bleach the palm oil for longer. Be careful though, because if you bleach it for too long, you will end up with a sauce that tastes burnt or better still “charcoaly”

If you know you’ll be making this often, I suggest you boil a big batch of various meats and devote time to chopping them up. Use a portion and freeze the rest. Generally I chop meats enough to make extra 2 or 3 batches. Also, Aya Mase keeps well. So do what I do, make a big batch at once. When you have guest you want to impress, you don’t have to serve rice and stew.

As a parting shot to the Ijebus: Eweso o, omo Ijebu alare. Mo ki yin kabo. Ke mi tiri, Ke mi ti se. Se dada rim ba wen. We rurunkurun oni se yin o. Aye Ayewa oooo. I hope I got it right, otherwise my grandma will be rolling in her grave, shaking her head and saying Omo Yibo yi.

Have a nice weekend all.
_________________________________________________________________________________
Dunni Obata is an IT Project Manager by day and a cook the rest of the time. She loves entertainment and one of her bad habits is feeding people. When she’s not cooking, she’s watching the Food Network. Dunni is very passionate about Nigerian food and believes they have a lot to offer globally. Visit her blog – www.dooneyskitchen.com

54 Comments on BN Cuisine with Dooney’s Kitchen: Delightfully Yummy “Ofada” Sauce
  • Mz Socially Awkward… April 5, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Very nice! Being an Ibo chick who spent a huge chunk of her life in Port Harcourt, I only got properly introduced to yoruba dishes in the last 5 years when I moved here, made new friends and suddenly discovered culinary delights like “ofada rice”, “giz-dodo” and “efo-riro”. Last year was the first time I tasted amala (still prefer fufu, though).

    Thanks for de-mistifying the great ofada stew :-) Please do one on eforiro because, I’m telling you, no matter how many times I try, I just end up with a soggy mess (and believe me when I say that shouldn’t be the case, when one considers my expertise in cooking purrfect Afang & Edikaiko). There’s a lady in my ‘hood that makes killer eforiro but at £50 a pot… mehn, I need to save that cash and just find out the secret myself!

    • Dunni Obata April 6, 2013 at 7:33 am

      Thank you for your comments. One of the secrets of Efo Riro is the type of vegetable used. If I can take a wild guess, the £50 a pot lady is using Soko. I really don’t know what the English name is but Soko is the Big Daddy of Efo Riro, and it being so difficult to come by in the UK, it could explain why the soup is expensive. If your Efo Riro is watery I think you are either using too much pepper or you are not frying the pepper for long enough. Also your choice of vegetables may be the cause. If you use spinach, you’ll get a watery result. Could you try frying the pepper with Iru next time? As soon as I am able to source Soko, I’ll do a post on Efo Riro

  • Ella April 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Wonderful recipe and tips! Ive been adding tomatoes to mine! Pls Dooney is the green ball pepper the same one as the green pepper used in making fried rice? I want to try this out this weekend:-)

    • Gemini April 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      Yes it is. Green bell pepper is the same as what naijas call green pepper.

    • Dunni Obata April 5, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Hi Ella, yes it is the same Green Pepper used for fried rice

  • lizzie April 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Lovely!

  • Ona April 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Nice! Ive been looking for a recipee for this dish since i tried it in a Nigerian Restaurant. I will so try it. Thanks Dooney and thanks Bella!

  • sideeyeblankstare April 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    ddddrrrrrrrrrrroooooooooooolllllllllliiiiiiinnnnnngggggggg [like homer simpson]

  • ugomma orji April 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you ! Thank you! have been looking for this recipe, and I’m so making it next weekend. Thanks Dooney’s kitchen

  • nene April 5, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    best stew in the whole world! this stew is addictive!

  • ‘Mide April 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I am in love with the dish already. Hmm…u go make me fall in love oh! Omo dudu to shan pelu obe dudu to le. What else does one want? Dunni you dialing me up in the right places. Come have my baby, I want you. LOL

  • Mama April 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Thank you so much!!
    I have always wanted to make the Ofada sauce, now I’ll try it.
    Please do a post on yam porridge. I have never been able to get it right.

    • Dunni Obata April 6, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Yam Porridge is actually on my list for the next coming weeks. What mistakes are you making? I may be able to help now.

  • Bee April 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    #Crying! I want.. haha

  • Lafunky April 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    I cook Aya Mase very well as well. I sometimes just use red pepper (tatase) if my guests do not like green pepper. Also, I blend Crayfish and Iru Woro together, it comes out with a lovely Aroma.

    • Dunni Obata April 6, 2013 at 7:48 am

      I actually do that once in a while to switch things up, but I do that with fresh Shombo pepper and a little Tatashe to taper down the heat. Blending crayfish with Iru is actually a very good idea. I’ll try it out

  • Concerned_Boyfriend April 5, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    LOL@ adding tomatoes to ayamashe. Wheretheydothatat ?…

    • Ella April 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      @concerned boyfriend am an Edo girl so i can be forgiven for adding tomatoes. It comes out well though!

    • Iretidayo April 12, 2013 at 10:52 am

      Am a yoruba girl and a cooking addict,infact,my friends have told me that I look happier when am in the kitchen and I do add tomatoes to my Aya mase aka mama put stew,my family loves it,my friends love it and my sister’s friends love it too,also,I prefer my stew red rather than black so I use lots of different types of red peppers and loads of onions. My point is,don’t knock it till you try it

  • IyawoOlowoSibi April 5, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Dunni, for those of us who only have access to oil in sealed bottles, how long do you recommend to fry the oil, cos the last time i made this, my whole living rooom was filled with smoke and thank goodness my smoke detector didnt go off….

    • Dunni Obata April 6, 2013 at 7:35 am

      Hmmmn, I can tell you stories for days about that Palm oil in sealed bottles. One of the incidents resulted in the oil catching fire. So i’ll advise you bleach the palm oil on low heat for the entire process

  • Hot sumtyn April 5, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    But iru is not “fermented melon seeds” but rather locust bean. Or am I missing something?
    I’d try this recipe.

    • Dunni Obata April 6, 2013 at 7:43 am

      Thank you for the correction. It is locust beans. I hope writing it as fermented melon seeds will make it recognisable to anyone who has never seen Iru before.

  • OmoMakun April 6, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Its official….I love me some Dunni! I’m from Sagamu and I appreciate you doing this. I’m going to attempt to make this one of these days

    • Dunni Obata April 6, 2013 at 7:44 am

      Hey, we are like family already. Sagamu is very close to Iperu, in fact my mum is an alumnus of FGGC Sagamu

      • IyawoOlowoSibi April 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm

        Iperu is like down the road from Ilishan where babcock univ is, infact now thinking about it what that woman called ‘iya gbadun’ sold with rice to babcock student which they were very addicted to must have been ayamase. I just remembered it was always dark so I never moved near it all thru my stay at babcock, i was just too skeptical, I just go for the more familiar ‘pala’ rice…lol which is just plain old jollof rice. I only tasted ayamase when i got to the US, seems i prob missed out a lot. I wish I could greet you well done on this post the way that Ilishan woman talks…but I cant put it together…lol

  • Mama April 6, 2013 at 1:03 am

    I was wondering what Green Bell Peppers was but I just saw your response.

  • ant April 6, 2013 at 2:07 am

    Dunni, abeg when you say “cup” do you mean standard measuring cups like the ones used in baking?

    • Dunni Obata April 6, 2013 at 7:44 am

      Yes, I mean the standard cup used in baking

      • ant April 6, 2013 at 9:37 am

        OK now, thanks for the post. Will try this in summer when i fit open my windows and doors well. My last attempt at bleaching palm oil = burnt kitchen floor + change smoke detector. Can’t wait sha.

  • hADASSAH April 6, 2013 at 3:39 am

    I thought iru was locust beans?

  • R April 6, 2013 at 5:39 am

    Yum, bookmarked!

  • Temizzy April 6, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Thank you Dunni, am just drooling here.

  • Dunni Obata April 6, 2013 at 9:11 am

    My apologies for not including more pictures of the cooking process. I will correct that in next week’s post. As it is too late to do that now, I will be uploading the photos to the Ingredientspaedia page of the blog. Thank you all for your kind comments, and I hope you try this dish out.

  • Dunni Obata April 6, 2013 at 11:14 am

    @ant – I am guessing you used the palm oil in sealed bottles. They can be a fire hazard. Remember to cover the pot, and bleach the palm oil on low heat. If you do this, you don’t need to wait for summer. I made this dish last weekend. Using low heat will reduce the smoke. Also do not open the pot until it has totally cooled down. I hope this helps

  • Ola April 6, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Hi Dunni, nice post! I’m allergic to seafood, so cant cook with crayfish. Is there an alternative you recommend? or i should just go ahead and cook without ( which is what i usually do when cooking native soups)

    • Dunni Obata April 6, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      Let me see. Can you tolerate fish? If so, can you find the smoked version of that fish and you can simply dry it out in an oven, and blend it into a powder

  • Zee April 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    Hello Dunni, good job! I’m bookmarking this so I can try out the designer stew. I also can’t wait for your post on yam porridge ‘cos I haven’t been able to get it right too. I need to get the thick sauce that comes with the yam to make it porridge but it comes on coming out either dry or watery not thick.

    • Dunni Obata April 7, 2013 at 6:36 pm

      With Yam porridge, the thick sauce basically comes from the yam. The yam needs to be soft enough to be crushed with a wooden spoon, and the pepper sauce must be fluid enough to absorb the mashed yam or it will be dry. I’ll explain more in detail when I post my yam porridge recipe

  • Dunni Obata April 7, 2013 at 10:43 am

    @IyawoOlowoSibi, i like your display name jare. You are very welcome. You are correct, it was Aya Mase. Sorry you missed out, but you have the recipe now, you can add a.k.a Iya gbadun to your name. Lol.

  • Naija talk April 7, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    Aunty Dunni, Ofada sauce toh dun but the amount of oil is what scares me. How often do you make it?

    • Dunni Obata April 7, 2013 at 11:49 pm

      Think of Aya Mase like chocolate cake. It is a guilty pleasure, and oh so delicious. I don’t make this often because I tend to make a big batch that lasts in the freezer. So, treat yourself please, your tastebuds will thank you for it

  • ice April 7, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    U are too much, @ dunni, u came right on time

  • mona April 8, 2013 at 10:33 am

    this blakened oil reminds me of one hausa ‘black stew’ i tasted a while back…. its also really nice too

  • Omo1 April 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Dunni..I look forward to your post on efo riro..I have always wanted to try it out but have not not really being able to get the proper recipe (am so happy now that you mentioned soko as the best vegetable to use)

    Meanwhile i’ll try this out.. I love trying out new things :D

  • Wealthy one April 12, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I made used your Oradea recipe hubby is so happy. God bless you.

  • Wealthy one April 12, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Sorry typo error. Ofada sauce I mean.

  • salsera April 27, 2013 at 12:23 am

    i always add tomatoes, doubt anyone would know the difference. i use this especially when i use tatashe and red ata rodo. else the pepper go hammer my tongue. a few tomatoes in the mix does the trick. But shombo? no-go area

  • Liz May 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Nice one I must say, haven’t tasted ofada rice before, but I sure will give it a try. Tnks Dunni

  • Fatima July 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    @Dunni, bless your heart. I got introduced to this “woderousometistical” meal in Lagos and since then, I’ve not turned back. I’ve been craving it like mad and I just made sure my friend brought iru for me from home, lolz! Once, I had to drive from Pretoria to Joburg all for ofada, see my life? I’m so making this tomorrow, daaaamn! My tastebuds are inflamed already.

  • ink July 26, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    yummy. ofada sauce yii dun gan ni. hehe I cant wait to

    • ink July 26, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Imma follow through with dunni’s steps. Thnx :)

  • Post a comment