I’ve called this curry a Nigerian curry, but equally it could be attributed to many of the west African countries. Africa itself doesn’t have a long curry tradition. In the east, the curries were bought over by Indian migrants who helped set up businesses and in the west, by the British.
It’s because of the British that west Africa now has a curry tradition, but it’s largely based on the old way of making British curry – that is, using curry powder and stock!
For this reason, this curry is extremely simple and quick to make, and could easily be a midweek supper idea when time is an issue, and you want something satisfying fast.
It’s usually made with chicken or goat meat. Once the spices are fried and you’ve added the onions, you’d then add the meat and continue as the rest of the recipe instructions. It’ll take about an hour to cook. For the vegan version, it’s much quicker!
Over the years, coconut milk and/or peanut butter have been added to these simple curry recipes and therefore I’ve added these ingredients for those who wish to adapt and try different variations.
The curry in the picture has neither coconut milk nor peanut butter – I wanted to go for the simple recipe that the west Africans would have made in the days gone by.
Most recipes online use simple vegetables that you can find in most European stores such as red potatoes, carrots, onions, red pepper, green beans.
I’ve chosen vegetables you can find in a Nigerian market such as: okra, plaintain, aubergine, and sweet potato. I wanted to use good African ingredients and get a more authentic feel to it.
West Africans, like their Caribbean cousins, generally prefer their curry with heat. They often use Scotch Bonnet chillies and thus I’ve used Scotch Bonnet in this recipe. You will, however, find many recipes online that simply using Jalapeño, and that’s fine if you prefer a milder taste.
Remember the simple rules I created when handling chilli!
The curry powder you can use is the standard medium heat curry powder (not madras, or tikka masala) that you can find in any British store. However, for those using this blog who prefer to make their own curry powder, here are the ingredients:
3 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
0.5 tsp cardamom
6 dried chillis
2 tsp tumeric
Grind in a pestal and mortar or spice grinder.
West African Curry
- 1 tbsp Ginger chopped
- 2 tbsp Garlic chopped
- 1 Scotch Bonnet Chilli or Habanero
- 3 tbsp curry powder just standard medium spiced curry powder, or see blog for details
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 red pepper bell pepper, chopped
- 400 ml vegetable stock
- 6-8 tbsp peanut butter optional, as this is a later addition
- 3-4 tomatoes chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste optional, if using British tomatoes, I'd add this
- 1) Chop and prepare all vegetables and spices
- 2) In a large pan, heat the oil and add 2 tbsps of the curry powder and stir well
- 3) Add the onions and fry until translucent
- 4) Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and stir - add a little stock if starting to stick or go dry
- 5) Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and create a little curry paste.
- 6) Add all the vegetables, stir well so that they are coated with the paste, then add the stock
- 7) Cook until just done, then add the remainder of the curry powder and peanut butter if using.
- 8) Taste and adjust seasoning as required.
- 9) Serve with rice
Seb is a nutritionist registered with the Association for Nutrition and a writer specialising in plant-based nutrition and men’s health. He graduated from Chester University with a masters degree in human nutrition and loves discovering new and vibrant plant-based recipes.