Posts tagged amala
Olaiya’s Amala: Soul Food We All Need
 

You know this unpopular thing people do online to Amala? Yes, the constant bashing of the elite dish needs to stop. And our bad habit of disapproving anything indigenous, makes me think that the blatant hate for the underdog – amala, is as a result of white supremacy. If you think I am wrong, find the nearest amala, look at it and lie to yourself that the reason you don’t like it is because of its colour.

Oh well, to the gist.

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My friend, Nneka, and I went on this adventure because it’s been really hot and messy in Lagos recently. Amala’s fluffy and light texture makes it suitable in hot weather conditions. If you think I made this up, then experiment with fufu and amala on two separate days and let me know the outcome. One of its qualities, sauf a trimmer waistline, is its ability to make you feel light and classy even in the most tumultuous situation.

Since we are both serious connoisseurs of the dish, we decided to treat ourselves this long-holiday weekend by visiting one of Lagos’s popular joints. Olaiya Food Canteen is located in Surulere and on this special occasion, it took us just 29 minutes to get there from Lekki – the ancestors were indeed in our favour.

It wasn’t really a hassle to find Olaiya and maybe it was just that way because we were prepared for the worst. We arrived and got on a queue almost immediately. There was an immediacy that came with being at the restaurant – every five minutes there was a customer leaving and another sitting.

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I also liked that I didn’t have to be fixated on a menu before ordering and then waiting for the meal. It was a swift buffet line that even had the POS machine at the other end. You pick your bowl, request how many wraps of amala you’d like (one wrap is equivalent to the size of one boiled egg btw), and you proceed to get your ewedu, gbegiri and stew.

(Ed Note: The portion size and the price hasn’t changed since our original review. Wild)

We had two variations – one with gbegiri and the other without. 

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I chose to not include gbegiri in mine because I’ve had bad experiences with the groundnut-like sauce overpowering my dish. The stellar component in Olaiya’s is by far the stew. And that’s why it sucked that there was limited stew and ewedu. It had a freshness and smokiness that only buka style food can give – if only there was more. 

I typically love everything served in one plate as my spoon glides in and scoops balls of amala. I also love dissecting the assorted meat the only way I know how to – with my bare hands. The most appealing thing about Amala is usually the feeling you get after. It’s like you never ate but then you also can’t move too much. It’s the weirdest thing to explain.

Nneka’s soup had gbegiri and at first I heard her complain it looked a bit watery, I remember sighing in relief. But boyyyy, was I wrong.

This was a better version than mine. I particularly loved how loosened up the gbegiri was, the problem I usually have with other amala joints is how thick the sauce is. Olaiya’s texture wasn’t heavily concentrated and that in my opinion is how you balance a complex dish. It accompanied the stew, ewedu and amala really well and created this amazing palate that I have never tasted before.

 

POSTSCRIPT

I have decided to plan a trip in the near future to have all the gbegiri in the world, you probably should too. 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Amala - N100 each wrap

Beef - N100

Shaki (Tripe) - N100

Goat Meat - N600

PARKING

There’s street parking, but you have to pay a small fee

Taste Test: The Amala at NOK by Alara

Unlike Folly, Nosa is not the biggest fan of Amala. Actually, that sounds like he might tolerate it. Nosa HATES Amala. That's a true reflection of what we're dealing with. So you can see how a proper assessment of the Amala at NOK wouldn't work if one half of Eat.Drink.Lagos has an inherent bias. Lucky for us, two readers of the blog helped us out -  @Ruby_TNT and @Jollz


ONYEKA: NOK is well known for its gourmet take on traditional Nigerian and African food in general, so when I was chosen (yay, me!) by Eat.Drink.Lagos to try out its new Amala menu, I was pretty excited.

JOLA: Joining Folly, Nosa and Onyeka to try out Nok’s amala was the natural next step in what I consider a career in amala connoisseurship and I was honestly honoured. Many are called but Jollz was chosen and more importantly, Jollz delivered.  

ONYEKA: Not because it was free amala, I mean sure, who doesn’t like free food especially when it’s amala, but because I was kind of eager to see how NOK intended to gourmet-fy it.

It’s AMALA!

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ONYEKA: Anyway, no need to talk about how pretty NOK is and its amazing ambience…those who know, know. On to the food itself. Firstly, it came in a really pretty bowl. Not authentic clay, but it did look quite real and gave off that traditional food vibe-ish. 

Now, to dissect the food and cost.

Bearing in mind that the menu said "amala with ewedu, gbegiri and assorted meat" for N3500, I was expecting a lot of amala for that price. Iya Olaiya anyone?

JOLA: The best amala is Ibadan amala, closely followed by early morning “buka” amala (don’t ask me how I know this) and right behind that is wedding amala (but it’s advisable you have a cast iron stomach to be able to fully take advantage, if not you'll find yourself stuck in the bathroom for hours). 

ONYEKA: But one needs to remember that this is fancy amala and not the usual Iya Basira type food so I guess N3,500 is understandable…

...nahhhh, it’s not. N2000 or N2500 would have been more feasible.

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JOLA: Again, NOK is great at presentation. The bowls were super cute and the amala was appropriately drowned in a sea of ewedu, gbegiri and assorted meat (yuck) as is customary.

ONYEKA: The amala wasn’t much. At first glance, it looked quite plentiful until I realised that it was literally a circle. The space in the middle was meat and stew. Hmmm.

Anyway, there was a whole lot of stew but not enough ewedu. I should point out now that I refused the gbegiri because beans because ground beans because EWWWW. Moving on, ewedu makes the whole meal. As far as I’m concerned, my amala should be drenched in ewedu with just a little bit more than a splash of stew. Luckily, the stew was really nice, so I guess I can forgive the not-enough ewedu.

Somewhat. 

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ONYEKA: Then, the meat.

Assorted meat.

JOLA: I really, really dislike assorted meat but apparently you people die for it

ONYEKA: When I hear "assorted meat", I think of roundabout (intestine), shaki (tripe), fuku (heart), beef, kpomo…you know, the good good.

NOK’s assorted meat was…let’s call it posh.

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ONYEKA: A lot of beef, slivers of shaki and cow leg. Maybe other people got roundabout or kpomo, but not me. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of beef, and if my cowleg isn’t melt-in-the-mouth soft, then I stay far away. My beef was soft but there was too much, so I had a piece or 2. My cowleg was soft but not as soft as I would have liked so I cut a bit out of a piece and that was that. I had my 2 slivers of shaki and, to their credit, they were quite soft and nice. I’ll give them that.

But yahhh, that’s it.

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ONYEKA: The piece de resistance, aka the amala, was really really nice, however.

JOLA: The texture of the amala was perfect, it was neither congealed, hard or super black. Amala is meant to be supremely soft, which is why I maintain that the best amala is made by old women with church aunty arms and less than 11 teeth.

ONYEKA:  Hands down, one of the fluffiest amalas I’ve had outside my house. I lowkey wanted more amala (but with more ewedu in the stew – yes, I’m not letting this go) but that would have been an extra N3500 and it’s never ever that deep lol.

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JOLA: Taste wise it wasn’t bad at all; I actually really enjoyed it.

Now, let me confess, I have a bit of an attitude when it comes to “fancy places” doing amala. I need a little grime, a few healthcare violations, a lot of rude women, and an immense lack of customer service.  That guarantees great tasting amala… well most of the time (side eye White House). However, I must confess, Nok impressed me. The amala was really soft, stew had bit of a kick (and you know how yoruba women are about their pepper), and overall it tasted really good. The ewedu and gbegiri combo wasn't watery (trust me, it’s a thing) and the actual beef in the collection of assorted meat was soft and delicious (I didn't touch the rest because I deserve better).

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ONYEKA: All in all, it was pretty okay if deconstructed, but for that price and for everything in general, I don’t think I’d be going to NOK again for this particular meal. If I could have the amala on its own though, I definitely would go back for more and more.

JOLA: At N3500, it’s pricey for amala but if you’ve got it and want to impress a few bougie friends I guess you should go for it. From this amala connoisseur it gets a thumbs up, and trust me, I know what I’m talking about. 


DAMAGE

Abula - N3500

Buka Week: White House

White House

Chapel Street, Yaba, Lagos

FOLLY: Let me save you your time, I hated this place.

NOSA: LMAO

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FOLLY: Okay, I will explain in three bullet points.

NOSA: I didn't eat anything here because my body didn't let me put amala in my mouth.

  • The people selling the food are incredibly rude.
  • The amala is chalky at best and cold AF
  • The ewedu has more 'fillers' than ewedu leaves itself, what's up with that.
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FOLLY: I mean look at the ewedu it's mostly transparent with egusi globs and little to non-existent green.

NOSA: Why do people rave about Whitehouse amala so much? I don't even like amala and even I know Olaiya is miles better.

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FOLLY: I've been here two or three times now and I can now safely conclude that this is my last visit.

NOSA: I had jollof rice from here not too long ago. Work takes me to Yaba a bit these days and my boss wanted to show us the streets. The rice was pitiful.

 

POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: It's a flat out (and also irrevocable) NO from me. 

NOSA: Folly is an amala champion so if she says "No", it's a "No" from me too.

VERDICT

DAMAGE

Goat Meat - N400

Amala (per portion) - N100

 

 

PARKING

Limited and you'll have to settle someone.

Yellow Chilli's Seafood Okro Is Excellent

 Yellow Chilli

27 Oju Olobun Close, Victoria Island, Lagos.

0808 552 2277

FOLLY: I finally convinced Nosa to let us check out Yellow Chilli.

NOSA: She didn't "convince" me please. Folly is always trying to make it look like I hate Nigerian food.

FOLLY: I've only ever been here once before this and it was okay. I don't like how dimly lit the VI location is but I hear that the Ikeja branch has a much nicer space. 

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NOSA: Because Nigerians have refused to acknowledge small chops as a starter, there was really no starter for us to get. We settled for the Seafood Platter, which is actually a main.

FOLLY: Everything in the platter was over fried but I wasn't surprised as we were at a Nigerian restaurant and they probably thought anything south of this might as well be sushi. 

NOSA: As a collective, this isn't a bad platter. Indvidually, well, that's another story. One of my fish balls had a bone in it. The fish ball looked like a hushpuppy. I had a hushpuppy once. In another seafood basket on another continent. That seafood basket had fried alligator in it too.

Ah, good times.  

Back to this boring basket though. The calamari was passable but the prawn was definitely up my alley. 

FOLLY: The prawns were good but awfully over fried.

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FOLLY: I've heard A LOT about Yellow Chili's seafood okro so I decided to go for that with amala. Yellow Chilli's seafood okro is often compared to L'Afric's, which I've also had before. 

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Anyways, this seafood okro lived up to all the hype and was really good.

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NOSA: I agree. I thought the seafood okro was pretty excellent. A bit of a shame that I hate "swallow". This might actually work with fried yam, uno.

FOLLY: The amala, on the other hand, was not amala and I'm not really sure what this imposter was.

Maybe a blend of that plantain elubo and real elubo, but I wonder who asked them to adulterate my amala in such an ungodly fashion. 

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NOSA: I've tried amala twice now. Neither has been "airy and light". I'm starting to think you Twitter people told me lies and amala might really be scraps.  

Anyway, I got the Jollof Fiesta as my main. 

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NOSA: Yeah, the Jollof was reaaaaaal basic. The Jollof in my house > 

I heard so much about so it was a bit disappointing to be so let down by it. 

FOLLY: This Jollof was not the one. 

POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: I took at least half of my seafood okro home cause the portion was quite large, so in that regard, I'd say it's very good value for money. 

NOSA: I don't know Folly says this is a "Liked It". I didn't like it. I could've eaten Jollof at home and not wasted my money. 

FOLLY: That's just because of the seafood okro which is a winner. 

VERDICT

DAMAGE

Jollof Fiesta - N3000

Seafood Basket - N4700

Seafood Okro & Amala - N3300

 

PARKING

There's parking but a few restaurants are around that area so expect some struggle if Yellow Chilli's space is full 

Swallow Wars: The Quarterfinals

No real surprises in our first round. Well, maybe Wheat losing to Plantain Amala. Definitely didn't see that one coming. 

The North

Awks Tuwo Jero.

The South

Onunu is pounded yam and plantain in case you were wondering. 

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The East

Zero ratings for pounded cocoyam. 

The West

Lafun never stood a chance. Surprising close race between Amala and Eba.

So where does that leave us?

"Amala vs Pounded Yam" looks like such a tough match up. I (Folly) have to take sides on that this particular battle, on behalf amala of course. It's gonna be a deadly day, cause amala is ready to die on the line. 

Anyway, enough talk, get voting!