A few months back, two lovely girls came and visited my department in the Fort Worth Junior Woman’s Club. They did a demonstration of their company and I was so intrigued. They are two girls who were working day jobs and living in Dallas. One was a fellow TCU grad, and the other from MIT – so needless to say they were smart chicks. They recently started a website called Spice Madam which is a spice subscription service. Check out their website to learn more about the founders and what they do. As a quick synopsis, you can sign up to be a member and every month you will receive a different spice box from a featured country around the world. The box will include the spices, recipes, a shopping list, some cultural facts and even a playlist signature to the region. When you receive the box in the mail and open it – it exudes wonderful aromas. The first box I received was Nigeria. It was such a fun experience to take a country and culture that I know very little about and go on this food exploration and learning experience. Here are some fun facts I learned from the box – some I knew and some I definitely did not:
- Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with 174 million inhabitants, and it is the 7th most populous country in the world.
- The name Nigeria was inspired by the Niger River running through the country.
- There are over 521 languages spoken in Nigeria, but English is the official language which was chosen to facilitate unity in the country.
- “Nollywood” is the 2nd largest movie industry in the world, after India’s Bollywood and ahead of the US’s Hollywood! (Can you believe that?!)
To set the mood, you can also click on the link to check out this music by Nigerian musician Amaha. Now, moving on to the food…There were 5 recipes in the box total, but I started out by just making two of them: Nigerian Jollof Rice (which I learned was the predecessor to Cajun Jambalaya) and Nigerian Roasted Chicken. Both were absolutely delicious. They list every ingredient and every step – for vegetarians they even give you substitution options as well. I have listed the recipes below exactly as on the cards – and I want to clarify these are not my recipes. I wanted to share these to entice others to sign up for this wonderful and tantalizing subscription service.
Another adventurous element is that you do not chose the countries you wish to receive boxes from – they are a surprise every month, which I find to be fun. Since the Nigeria box, I have received two more boxes: Syria and Myanmar. Some months there is also a philanthropic effort affiliated with that featured country.
I must give fair warning that this is not like a Blue Apron where it is simple cooking and they include all of the ingredients for you. They only include the spices and recipes and then you have to go buy all of the fresh items. Also, the recipes I have tried are fairly intricate so I recommend this to those who are comfortable in the kitchen. It is very fun for a dinner party, or even just trying something new every month and getting out of your comfort zone. If you have any cooks or foodies in your life this would make a great gift. I have had a very fun time discovering this subscription – it is about $20/month, gives you new cooking ideas, you learn something, it is a local company and you are supporting a female run company. What is not to like? Again, read more on their website, and enjoy a glimpse into their recipes below:
Nigerian Jollof Rice and Nigerian Roasted Chicken
- 5 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
- 1 Medium White Onion, chopped
- 1-2 Scotch Bonnet Peppers (or serrano peppers), stemmed, deseeded and chopped
- 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 2.5 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 - 2 Teaspoons Jollof Rice Spice (WAS IN BOX)
- 1 Maggi Cube (WAS IN BOX)
- 2 Cups Parboiled Rice
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 Purple or White Onions, chopped
- 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Inch Fresh Ginger, peeled and cut in half. Or 1 Teaspoon Dried
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme or 3 Tablespoons Fresh (optional)
- 3 Tablespoons Nigerian Curry Powder (WAS IN BOX)
- 2 Cubes Maggi seasoning (WAS IN BOX)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 - 3 Pounds chicken ( I used skin-on wings and thighs)
- Step 1 Rice: Put tomatoes, bell pepper and scotch bonnet peppers in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside 1/4 cup. Rinse and Drain the rice. In a medium sized pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown (5-7 minutes). Add the tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the blended tomato pepper mix(except the 1/4 cup). Cook, stirring frequently for 15-20 minutes. It’s ready when you see the oil rise to the top of the stew. Turn heat down to medium. Add stock, salt, Jollof Rice Spice, and Maggie Cube. Stir and cook for 10 minutes. Add the parboiled rice to the pot and stir to mix well. Add water, if needed, to the pot to bring the liquid level to be even with the rice. Add bay leaves. Lower heat to medium low and cover to cook for 15 – 20 minutes until most of the liquid is dried up. Add the remaining tomato pepper blend on top. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes. It’s ok to let it burn a little on the bottom to get the smoky “party jollof” flavor. Turn off heat and mix to combine to a bright red color.
- Step 2 Chicken: (PREP) Place the onions, garlic and ginger into a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the thyme, curry powder, and smashed cube of Maggi to the bowl. Stir to combine. Season the chicken with salt, rubbing the salt into the meat. Put the chicken in the marinade bowl and stir to coat. Cover with saran wrap and let marinate for 30 minutes to overnight.
- Step 3 Chicken: (COOK) Heat the oven or grill to 425 degrees fahrenheit. If you have a grill pan, use that. Otherwise, a foil lined baking pan is fine. Place the chicken in the pan shaking off the excess marinade. Roast the chicken for 25 – 30 minutes until juices run clear when you poke into the meat with a fork. Turn the oven to broil and move the pan close to the top of the oven. Broil for 3 – 5 minutes to give the chicken a nice char.