I arrived back in the U.S. last week and have been slowly catching up on my sleep and my correspondence. Last night I attempted a dish I first tasted in Abuja a couple of weeks ago: "oatmeal."
Not your every day breakfast cereal, though. It was interesting to see William Penn's face greeting me on boxes of Quaker Oats in the grocery shops in Abuja, but even more interesting to know that Nigerians have appropriated the oats to make a contemporary version of a starchy accompaniment to soup, similar to fufu.
I was first treated to this dish in the home of Godwin and Felicia Chukwu. When I asked for the name, I was told, simply "oatmeal." "No other Nigerian name?" I asked and was assured there is not.
Unfortunately, I had no time for Felicia to demonstrate its preparation to me, but she did show me the heavy duty grinder she uses to grind the oats to flour, and she explained the basic process: bring water to a boil, gradually stir in the oats and mix well for a couple of minutes, then spoon into a serving bowl. She assured me I could just as easily use an electric blender to make the flour, as you see I did.
I believe she also said no added salt, and I remember Godwin mentioned to keep a little boiling water on the side to add if the oatmeal gets too dry.
Last night I made a Ghanaian "light soup" with beef and okra and shrimp, and whipped up some "oatmeal" to go with it. I remember Felicia used "instant" oatmeal, but I had old fashioned rolled oats here in Pennsylvania. At any rate, my first effort was semi-successful: I remember the version in Abuja as being lighter and somehow fluffier, while also dense. I think I may not have ground the flour fine enough, and I may have added too much water as well. I used 2 cups of oatmeal and probably 1 cup of boiling water. Anyone out there who can fine-tune this recipe, please let us know.