"Buka" pronounced "Boo-car": A name used to describe makeshift restaurants where local Nigerian meals are sold at extremely cheap rates.
The day i went to see a friend of mine some years ago was when i confirmed the power of well prepared buka stew. There was no light and food at her place so she suggested we strolled out to get something to eat. Right where the major market was located was a little buka close to the main road with "Mama Friday buka " written boldly in front.I laughed when we passed the door and told her i wasn't hungry anymore. She said it was her favorite eating place and wasted no time in ordering beans and stew with pomo and egg. After a while when i couldn't take it anymore, i decided to "manage" the white rice and stew. Before i knew what was happening, i had ordered a second round plus "take away" for later on...lol!
Contrary to all ambiguities associated with the preparation of this delicacy, buka stew is simply a palm-oil based stew made with a mixture of tomato and different varieties of pepper. In this post, i'd be teaching you how to make buka stew right at home so you won't go longing for it outside your home anymore ;).
•2 Cups Palmoil
•3 Red Onion
•10 medium sized plum Tomatoes
•5 Red scotch bonnet pepper(Ata rodo)/ Hanabero pepper
•10 chili pepper "Shombo"
• 4 Garlic cloves, minced - Optional
• Panla fish - Optional
• Salt to taste
• Hard boiled eggs.
Step 1: The major base of buka stew is palm-oil. As we all know, normal cooking oil could be quite expensive especially when cooking for commercial purposes. A cheaper and more affordable substitute is palm-oil. this helps keep the balance as well as adds a distinct flavor to the stew. When making buka stew, you have to prepare the oil first before it can be used.
The first step is to heat up the oil till it becomes clear like vegetable oil. This process is known as bleaching. Bleaching is best done in a ventilated kitchen to avoid being choked by the smoke so ensure you open all the windows if you have to.
To bleach, pour the oil in a dry empty pot. It's best to use an iron pot (preferably an old one) because bleaching tends to stain pots. Cover the pot and heat up on medium for about 10 mins then turn off the burner (Don't open up to check while it's being heated else it'd catch fire when exposed to air and you might end up setting your kitchen on fire). Leave it closed some few minutes after bleaching to ensure the smoke reduces and till the oil cools off. Please note that timing is very crucial during this process so you have to be careful to avoid the situation where the oil catches fire. Once the bleaching is done, the palmoil would look more like vegetable oil as shown below.
Step 2: When using assorted beef, it's best to take out time to wash properly. If you intend using Pomo, scrape out the dirty inner part (which is usually Sandy & dirty) including the outer skin thoroughly. If you intend using intestines, turn inside out and remove the saturated fats there (most people keep it in though). If using tripe a.k.a Towel or sharki in the Nigerian local market, wash thoroughly.
Rinse the Beef and Assorted meat with clean water and cut into smaller chunks, place in a medium sized pot. Add the seasoning cubes, Salt to taste, 1 chopped onion and 2-3 cups of water. Leave to cook till tender for about 25-30 mins till tender. Set aside.
Step 3: For this step, you'd need tomatoes and a variety of peppers. what buka stew makers do is to look for tomatoes that are already soft. This is because in the local market, these types are usually sold far cheaper than the stronger tomatoes due to their perishable tendencies. The green bell pepper is optional but to get a better flavor, it's best to add it. Remove the Seeds from the Tatashey, remove the stalk from the chili pepper and scotch bonnet. Wash the peppers thoroughly and place in a blender with the Tomatoes and the 2 remaining onions. Blend into a very smooth puree. All buka stew makers make use of commercial mills to achieve this. With the commercial mill, the tomatoes and peppers is ground more than once to give it the very smooth texture. Pour the blend into a medium sized pot and cook till the the liquid evaporates leaving the concentrated tomato and pepper paste.
Add the bleached palm-oil into the concentrated paste and fry for about 5 mins. Make sure you stir once in a while to prevent the paste from burning. Once it's well fried, you'd notice the oil separate from the paste.
Step 4: Gently add the meat water, assorted meat and washed panla fish (if you're using any). Check for salt and seasoning, add more if needed. Cover the pot and leave to cook for about 15 minutes. Once the time is up, you'd notice the oil would settle on top of the pot. Turn off the burner and leave to cool for a while.
Step 5: Add the peeled eggs into the pot. The stew can be served with boiled rice, yam, beans potatoes or even as a side for various soups.
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