Ayamase Stew

Ayamase stew also called Designer stew or Ofada sauce is a green bell peppers stew, which happens to be a delicacy common in the western part of Nigeria. This sauce with its unique bleached palm oil flavor, signature boiled eggs, assorted meats and indigenous ingredients such as the locust bean is one of the easiest African stews you will make.
It’s such a hit at parties and gatherings, you’ll be surprised on the first try to eat it and even be shocked to discover just how easy it is when you make it.

Where Is Ayamase From?

Ayamase stew as a Nigerian meal originated from Yoruba land but in recent times everybody has been interested in it because of its unique taste in comparison to other stews and sauces.
The origin can be traced to a town called Ikenne. Ikenne-Remo is a town located in Ogun State, southwestern region of Nigeria — the town is home to Mrs. Felicia, Aya Mase, who started the sauce to make ends meet as a rice seller.
It is usually paired with local rice from Abakaliki called Ofada rice. Ofada rice is an aromatic variety of rice grown in parts of Nigeria. It has a more robust flavor than regular rice since part of the rice bran is left on the grain.
This stew is the hottest of all Nigerian hot and spicy food. It tastes like Vindaloo (Indian Curry) as it is very spicy, seeing that you need a variety of peppers ranging from habanero to bonnet peppers just to prepare a small pot of the stew and the star of the dish which is fermented locust beans which gives it this strong pungent smell when it is being cooked yet everyone wants to eat it!

Ofada Stew Vs Ayamase Stew ? Are They The Same?

These two stews are very similar but different. The only major difference is the type of bell peppers used. The terms Red Ofada stew and Green Ofada stew came form this only difference.

Ofada stew actually borrows its name from the type of rice it was originally served with, known as Ofada Rice. This Ofada stew aka Red Ofada is made with only Red bell peppers while Ayamase aka Green Ofada is made with green bell peppers.

That’s the only major difference. Every other thing is the same.

Ayamase Stew Ingredients

  • Green ball peppers: I have tasted the stew made with only green bell peppers and made with only red bell peppers. I personally prefer a combination of both, but you can mix and match.
  • Palm oil: Palm oil gives the stew its unique taste, especially when bleached
  • Habanero pepper: The traditional  stew is made with scotch bonnet peppers, but you can use them interchangeably.
  • Iru (fermented locust beans): I use iru in some of my African soups . It is quite popular in Nigerian soups and gives a traditional, umami flavor when added in small quantities. You can omit this if you don’t have any on hand.
  • Meat: I used beef for this, but you can also use goat meat or chicken.
  • Spices: Bouillon powder, salt, and ground crayfish.

How To Bleach Palm Oil For Ayamase

Bleached Palm oil is a must use ingredient in this recipe for you to get the authentic taste this stew is known for. Of course you can use vegetable oil for this sauce but it won’t have that unique taste bleached palm oil adds to the ayamase stew.

Bleaching palm oil requires a few tips and tricks;

  • Pour a good quality palm oil in a clean, dry pot (I prefer stainless steel)
  • Cover pot, turn on heat to medium and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until the palm oil becomes transparent and no longer red.
  • Let oil cool completely before opening the pot. Use immediately or store for later.

If you are still finding it difficult to bleach with these few steps, you can read this Tips for Bleaching Red Palm Oil Like an Expert. 

How To Make Ayamase Stew

Start by preparing the meat you want to use. If using beef, boil with salt, bouillon, and black pepper for 30-40 minutes till it is tender. You can even fry the meat to give it a more authentic taste. You can do this if you want to, but it’s optional.

  1. Bleach the oil as outlined above. While waiting, coarsely blend the habanero peppers, the green, and red bell peppers together.
  2. Add as little water as possible when blending. If the blended mix looks a bit watery, pour in a pot and let it boil till some of the water evaporates.
  3. Chop the onions and set them aside. Add the onions to the palm oil and when translucent, pour in the blended peppers and add the iru (fermented locust beans). Cover and let it cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Make sure it’s on medium heat and keep an eye on it so it does not burn. Add your choice of meat and the remaining spices. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.
  5. Cook for another 10 minutes on medium heat or until the oil begins to float to the top.
  6. Your  stew is ready to serve!

Tips And Notes When Making Ayamase Stew

  • You can reduce the habanero pepper if it’s too spicy or add more if you prefer.
  • You don’t have to bleach the palm oil, but doing so will really enhance the taste.
  • Use a mixture of green and bell peppers or use just one type. Generally, red bell peppers are a bit sweeter.
  • Leaving the pot open after pouring in the green bell pepper purée helps it fry faster.
  • The oil may look like it’s a lot don’t be tempted to reduce it while cooking because it helps fry the purée. If after cooking you still think it’s too much, you are free to scoop out the excess.
  • You can boil your eggs up to a week ahead and leave them in the shell stored in an air tight container.
  • If making ahead for storage, skip the boiled eggs and boil on the day you would be eating the stew.

Why Is My Ayamase Bitter?

Two things can make your ayamase bitter, the type of pepper used and if the Green pepper puree gets burnt. Some green peppers and red peppers can have a bitter taste if blended with the seeds.

Best Serve For Ayamase

This dish is traditionally served on banana leaves over Ofada rice with a side of fried plantains which is optional. Ofada Rice also called African wild rice is said to be more nutritious than parboiled rice because it’s not over processed.

If you don’t have access to Ofada rice where you are, brown rice is a great substitute otherwise, our good white rice or basmati works perfectly in my opinion.

Storage

This Designer stew can stay frozen for up to 3 months. To store, let stew cool completely then transfer cooked stew into freezer friendly bowls and freeze. When ready to enjoy, thaw in the refrigerator overnight then warm up in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Did you enjoy this recipe or found it helpful, please leave me a comment and share the link to this recipe with family and friends.

Below is the step by step recipe on how to make Ayamase.

Ayamase Stew

Ayamase stew also called Designer stew or Ofada sauce is a green bell peppers stew, which happens to be a delicacy common in the western part of Nigeria. This sauce with its unique bleached palm oil flavor, signature boiled eggs, assorted meats and indigenous ingredients such as the locust bean is one of the easiest African stews you will make.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Sauces and Soup
Cuisine African, Nigerian
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

Ingredients

  • 20 pcs unripe habanero peppers (atarodo, ose oyibo, atarugu)
  • 2 green tatashe peppers or green bell peppers
  • 6 tablespoons of locust bean (Iru, ogiri okpei or dawadawa)
  • 20cl red palm oil (at least)
  • 1 big red onion
  • 850g assorted meat and fish – Beef, Cow tripe, Dry fish, Stock fish, and/or smoked fish.
  • ½ cup crayfish
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 3 bouillon cubes
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

Preparations

  • Wash and blend the peppers with half of the onion. Remember to remove the seeds from the green tatashe or the green bell peppers.
  • Pour in a strainer to drain excess water, Some choose to parboil the pepper mixture to remove excess water, this is an unnecessary step as you can achieve the same goal by simply straining.
  • Grind the crayfish and the locust bean with a dry mill.

Directions

  • Season and cook the meat with the stock fish till well done.
     
  • Pour the red palm oil into a clean dry pot and bleach till it turns clear. It should look like vegetable oil when done. It should take about 12 minutes on low to medium heat to bleach but timing depends on the type of heater you have and the quantity of oil.
  • It will definitely get smoky, leave the pot covered throughout the bleaching process. If you have a backyard or balcony, gently take the pot out when the oil is bleached. Open the pot and leave outside until all the smoke is gone. If you can’t take the pot outside, turn off the heat, open the pot slightly and leave to rest until all the smoke is gone.
  • Return the oil to high heat, chop and add the leftover onion and fry till it gets bit golden.
  • Add pepper puree and fry till all remaining water dries up.
  • Add the smoked fish, crayfish, locust bean and the parboiled meat with stockfish and stir well.
  • Add salt to taste, Decrease the heat to low-medium, cook the sauce until oil floats to the top.
  • Serve with ofada rice or any medium or long grain rice.

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