If you know me, you know about my intense love and appreciation for all things related to cuisine. If you don’t know me, I love food! I like to think about it, dream about it, make it, talk about it, write about it, sing about it and sometimes I even rub it on myself. If you just imagined me covered in Jollof rice then you my friend need help. I’m also oddly flattered, but I’m talking about all the facial/body serums and potions one can make using fresh and natural ingredients. Even though it stains, I’m a big fan of turmeric for all its healing properties.
This article is coming to you from the New City Inn at Wuye Abuja, or as I like to call it, my Abuja home away from home. I had the Jollof rice yesterday and it boasts a flavour profile that only a Nigerian cook living in Nigeria can produce. Personally, I quite enjoyed it and was done with my plate with the quickness. The initial Jollof rice deliciousness prompted me to do a three-day menu sampling of New City Inn,
Today I am sampling their Semovita brand Semolina with Egusi soup and Goat meat. Of all the many rich soups Nigeria has to offer, my favourite will always be Egusi. Paired with Smirnoff Ice, this dish came to slay. Don’t get me wrong, I do not discriminate against the other soups, they are all individually special and delicious, but you know what they say, the heart wants what it wants.This semolina, made from milled wheat was soft and smooth; that’s all one really wants from a swallow. I mean if it’s going to go down your throat, then it might as well be a pleasurable ride amirite? Ba dum dum tssss!
Anyway, in my opinion, all Egusi is good Egusi. This one had a lot of melon seed, which I liked. I have had some that had a lot more vegetable but this one was satisfactory to me in the melon seed to vegetable ratio. The goat meat was tender with a little pull and it wasn’t as gamey in texture and smell as goat meat tends to be. Don’t get me wrong, there was no mistaking this was goat; I believe it had just been cooked longer. For the Egusi, my only critique would be the spice level. The flavour profile was on point; the density was great with the perfect amount of palm oil. It even had flakes of stockfish to add to the texture and flavour of the soup. A dash more hot pepper would have made a world of difference. The good news though is that my North American friends will be able to handle the soup no problem, though I do not accept weakness from anyone who calls me friend, especially with food. I would suggest you order an hour ahead of the eating schedule as the food may take some time for preparation and delivery, It’s nothing personal, some of the dishes, especially the swallow are prepared fresh and trust me, you want to eat it piping hot. Watch out for the Itis that hits you right after, oh my! Slumber is seducing me at the moment but the right thing to do is go for walk and let the rich food digest. Knowing me, it’s officially naptime.
Today I will be sampling the Tuwo Shinkafa with Ogbono soup and stewed beef. Tuwo Shinkafa, also known as rice fufu, is made from short grain rice boiled without salt and then pounded and molded into the swallow shape. The Ogbono (Igbo bush mango) is made from grounded Ogbono seeds and it is a draw soup. I’ll be pairing it with Star beer, one of Nigeria’s most popular lager beer brands. You are either a Star person or a Harp person in the lager category; I always did shine brightly so I went with Star, but then again, it could be all that cocoa butter.One thing I will commend this cook for is her consistency with the swallow texture. I have sampled many Tuwo Shinkafa in my life and my biggest critique has been the texture; it is often too grainy. If I want to eat rice, I will order rice. This one was perfectly mashed but with enough broken grain to it that you know it is Tuwon. Now I have a precedent for my future Tuwon. Now, let’s talk about the soup, The Ogbono was great. In the Day 1 segment, my Egusi critique was that it wasn’t as spicy as I would have liked (personal preference) but this time, the spice levels in the Ogbono was perfect for me. The cook added some Efo (spinach) leaves to her soup and I quite liked the color contrast and the added texture, the beef was chewy which is the Nigerian standard and the palm oil ratio was on point. I am a little ashamed and proud of the rate at which I consumed the food. Between the temperature, the flavour profile and the consistency of both the Tuwon and the soup, I was in 9ja food heaven. As I type now, I can feel the effects of the food and sleep seduces me once again, I had a nice nap yesterday, but today, I’m going to go for a walk and bask in the memory of the meal I just had. The portions are generous and fitting for someone who identifies as Nigerian.
Today is my last official day in my New City Inn food chronicles, I will still be ordering from the menu as chances arise but I decided to end the documentation part with a rice dish. I will be ordering Fried rice with fish in a curry sauce. To think, this article started because I ate some Jollof rice and fell in love with the flavour profile.
9ja no dey carry last ooooh.
This time, I’ll be pairing it with a beer called Hero. It’s from the northern parts of Nigeria and one of the popular Nigerian beer brands. Fried rice and I go way back. I remember obsessing over Chinese fried rice and spending all my time and money to perfecting the Asian recipe, Naija fried rice is another beast on its own and shouldn’t be overlooked. The cooking technique is similar but with curry as opposed to a soy sauce base.This dish just knocked me out. I am so glad I decided to end the food chronicles with this fried rice dish. Let me start with the star of the event; the fried rice. The grains were cooked al dente and they weren’t sticking to each other. This is something I really appreciate, especially with fried rice. I like my grains to be individual as it adds to the chewing experience. The carrots had a little bite to it which I liked as I like a play on texture when I eat. It’s almost like a party in your mouth and I do love parties. The green beans were tender but not mushy and the flavour profile was nice and robust. The curry was pungent but not overwhelming. It was mild on the rice and a little heavier in the sauce, but again, not too pungent. This brings us to the curry sauce. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical at first but when the dish came the scents overtook my senses and I swear, I started salivating, I couldn’t wait to dig in and all because of the sauce. The sauce on its own was light in texture but packed a heavy punch. It can stand alone but when mixed with the rice, that’s where the real magic begins. The flavour in the sauce carried the rice and transformed it into another dish. I literally had to stop myself from eating so I can fully appreciate the flavours dancing on tongue.
The catfish that accompanied this dish was succulent and very tender. The curry sauce penetrated the outer layer of the fish leaving the middle part very clean with more fish flavour. The contrast was nice and added a balance to the sauce. The catfish, a Nigerian delicacy was in my opinion cooked to perfection. Catfish is a very soft-fleshed fish and when boiled, it tends to fall apart. This one was cooked in a way where it held its shape and firmness. It is a rich fish and the tenderness can’t be beat. As my last meal for this article, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The other meals were good but there was something about this one I can’t put my finger on, Maybe I should order it one or two more times to be sure.
New City Hotel: Plot 576 Gidado Idris Street. Wuye Abuja
Amenities: Suites, room service, bar, restaurant, laundry, conference room.