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Traditional Nigerian vegan recipes feature in new cookbook from north Wales chef

by Webmaster, 1st February 2022

Traditional Nigerian vegan recipes feature in new cookbook from north Wales chef

African Twist, the latest cookbook by Maggie Ogunbanwo, who lives in Penygroes, north Wales, utilises a range of African flavours and ingredients to reinvigorate plant-based meal ideas. 

As Maggie explains; “Some years ago, my son Eretoda, or Toda for short, embarked on a plant-based diet for his own reasons, but shared his journey often with the family. This was the beginning of my interest in plant-based milks for reasons of health. (I found that dairy products caused me to have a runny nose, which is no longer the case.) I also realised that plant-based options on menus at that time were limited and repetitive. I started to look more seriously at my idea that the basis of a lot of African cooking is plants - what with our variety of yams, plantains, sweet potatoes, Kilombero rice from Malawi and so many greens it’s impossible to name them all. For a long time my main experience of greens on supermarket shelves in the UK was spinach and spring greens – I grew up on water leaf, bitter leaf, shoko and many others. The inclusion of African recipes in a plant-based diet delights the tastebuds and broadens the options no end.”

Maggie’s African heritage remains ever-present in her work:

I first learnt to cook in Nigeria, West Africa, under the beady eye of my grandmother. She instilled in me the practice of patience and following process step by step to get great results each time. With all the other cuisines I have since learnt how to cook, I have done so through the lens of my Cameroonian grandmother’s teaching. In fact, on one occasion when I was working as a commis chef somewhere in the UK, the sous chef approached me, unhappily asking why all my food was peppery? I didn’t fully get it – all I did was add a sprinkling of white pepper, doesn’t everyone?”

Offering options for those new to plant-based recipes, of the 30 chosen here Maggie suggests that ‘golden rice with raisins, lemon mushrooms, vegetable pirate stew, stir-fried broccoli and green bean casserole are great to try your hand at if you are new to cooking, while the clementines with rum or port at Christmas time is easy, pretty and tasty. For those who would like to add to their repertoire of plant-based meals, try the green banana/plantain curry using green plantains from speciality food or online shops, the puff-puff recipe, walnut and pomegranate stew or the courgette, kale and leek bitetuteku using seasonal Welsh leeks.”

The dishes have been superbly captured by food photography specialist Huw Jones, who teamed up with Maggie again following their work together on The Melting Pot, for which Maggie was contributing editor, showcasing the diversity and variety of the Welsh BAME community’s culinary expertise with the support from the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board.

Peter Gill, of publishing house Graffeg, adds; “These recipes are inspirational, and add a new dimension to our notion of plant-based food. Maggie has tried and tested these dishes in her own kitchen, and knows that they are easy to replicate for the busy home cook. Her colourful, and often playful presentation, makes the resulting dishes attractive to serve on the table, and are hugely appealing for the entire family.”

Recipes include:

• Maggie’s Pirate Stew

• Banfora: Burkina Welsh Cakes

• Aubergine and Tomato Caviar

• Carrot and Apricot Soup

• Three Bean and Coconut Curry

• Sweet Potato with Peanut Butter Stew

• Rum Caramel oranges

• Plantain Loaf 

Priced at £9.99, African Twist is available to pre-order from www.graffeg.com

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