A trio of south London lads hoping to revolutionise the British palette with contemporary African food will unveil their new cookbook in Brixton on Thursday.
The Groundnut Cookbook, rumoured to be worth a six-figure sum, is the brainchild of Duval Timothy, Jacob Fodio Todd and Folayemi Brown and will be launched in the Black Cultural Archives.
Back in 2012 the three friends began hosting bi-monthly supper clubs and African pop-up restaurants after they identified a big gap in the market.
Folayemi, 26, said: “Duval persuaded his dad to rent us a room in his office space in Tower Bridge and suggested we start working together on a joint project showcasing the food we loved and which our guests were so curious about.
“The Groundnut was the result and has served as a platform for the three of us to share and explore the foods of our childhoods and wider African cuisines.
“It took a long year to put together and we’re excited that it is finally going to be publicly available.”
Childhood friends Duval, 25, and Folayemi have family from Sierra Leone and Nigeria, while Jacob, 30, grew up in Mozambique, Swaziland and Tanzania, resulting in a cacophony of African-inspired recipes.
The trio aren’t stopping at a cookbook, either.
On Saturday July 25 they’ll be serving up an array of African dishes in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall and in the autumn they will host ‘Groundnut Season’, comprising a series of sumptuous African dinners.
The 100-strong recipe cookbook features traditional family-inspired dishes with a modern twist. Read on for two delicious meal ideas taken from the upcoming book…
In West Africa, the seeds of the egusi melon are a common component of the soups that are integral to daily life. Coarsely ground up, they thicken stews, adding texture and another layer of flavour.
Egusi soup is usually prepared with fish and or meat, but given its nutritional profile – the seeds are composed of mostly natural fats and protein – it works perfectly as a vegetarian alternative to the Groundnut stew.
SERVES 4 | Time: 40 minutes
100g whole egusi seeds
3 teaspoons salt
1 large red pepper
200g baby plum tomatoes
3 medium onions
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Scotch bonnet pepper
400g fresh plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato purée
½ teaspoon soft dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon hot paprika
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
400g cooked chickpeas
300g baby leaf spinach
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.
Roast the egusi seeds on the middle shelf of the oven for 12 minutes, turning once. The egusi should be crunchy and some will have taken on a golden brown colour.
Remove from the oven and grind half the seeds in a pestle and mortar. Leave the rest whole and set all the seeds aside.
To make the base sauce, finely dice the onions and gently fry in the oil for 5 minutes on a medium heat. Deseed and finely dice the Scotch bonnet pepper. Chop the garlic and crush to a paste. Add both to the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes on a low heat.
Add the tomatoes, tomato purée and dark brown sugar. Stir and taste. It should have a pleasant sweetness from the tomatoes, onions and sugar, with a spicy undercurrent from the Scotch bonnet pepper. Add the black pepper, paprika and the other 2 teaspoons of salt.
Pour in 200ml water or vegetable stock, then cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. This allows the flavours to meld together. Remove from heat and blend base sauce. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Add the ground egusi to the base. Simmer on a low heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes. The sauce should thicken and become a creamier colour as the seeds absorb liquid.
Rinse the red pepper, then remove the stalk and seeds. Cut it into 5mm squares.
Quarter the baby plum tomatoes. Then add the chickpeas, red pepper and plum tomatoes and simmer for a final 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the spinach and the extra virgin olive oil. Serve just as the spinach begins to wilt, and scatter the reserved whole egusi seeds on top.
Serves 4 | Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
4 red peppers
2 medium to large onions
3 bulbs of garlic
½ Scotch bonnet pepper
1 teaspoon salt
100g plum tomatoes
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or alternative
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 heaped teaspoon tomato purée
500ml chicken stock (see page 314)
1 teaspoon red palm oil
1 teaspoon salt
300g white basmati rice (to 600ml of cooking sauce)
The ratio is 1:2 of rice to cooking sauce
Finely slice the onions and peppers. Make a paste out of the garlic and a teaspoon of salt. Deseed and slice the Scotch bonnet pepper, dice the tomatoes and set aside.
Soften the onions and peppers in sunflower oil over a high heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the pasted garlic, Scotch bonnet pepper, tomatoes and dry seasonings and cook for a further 10 minutes on a medium heat, stirring frequently.
Add the tomato purée, cook for another minute or so, then remove from the heat.
Blend the mixture with 200ml of chicken stock. If this was prepared in advance, raise the temperature of it first.
Add another 200ml of stock and blend until the mixture is smooth. Add the palm oil, a final teaspoon of salt, and then pour 600ml of this mixture back into the pot. Raise the temperature of the sauce until it is lightly bubbling.
Measure out your rice, then add to the pot. The pot should have a tight-fitting lid, but if it doesn’t you can use some foil with the shiny side facing down to retain the heat.
Stir gently so that all the rice is coated with the red sauce, then reduce the heat to a very low flame – the lowest possible. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Open the lid and stir gently again.
It is important to get under the centre of the pan so all the rice cooks at the same rate. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Open and stir for a final time, then simmer for a final 10 minutes. This makes 30 minutes cooking time in total.
Turn the heat off and allow to steam, covered, for a further 15 minutes. It’s tempting to open the pot here but it’s very important to trust the process and allow the rice to cook residually. This improves the final taste and texture of the rice.
Open the lid then leave to stand for 5 minutes, uncovered. Then fluff with a fork to separate the rice, slowly working inwards from the edge of the pan in a swirling motion.
If the rice is not completely cooked, add the reserved stock, stir gently, then place back on a low heat for a further 10 minutes.
Spoon the rice out onto a separate dish and serve.
Taken from The Groundnut Cookbook by Duval Timothy, Jacob Fodio Todd and Falayemi Brown, published by Michael Joseph. Recipe ©