Daily Trust (Abuja)

27 January 2013

Nigeria: Five Recommended Cookery Books

opinion

With several festivities running back to back in the last couple of months, I thought I would close my special edition of five favourite books with some of my favourite cookery books. We have had Christmas, New Year and just recently the marking of the holy Prophet of Mohammed's birthday, Eid el Maulud. We all know that in this season of challenges, one of the things that binds us together and makes us so similar is our celebration with food, our community cooking and our sharing. At least when I was growing up we got food from our neighbours whatever the celebration and we sent food too. It did not matter where we were from or what our religious inclinations were. I believe we still maintain this tradition in most parts of the country. Food involves community; it's about family and friendships and keeps our memories alive.

I love cooking. I enjoy it and can cook up a storm from any part of the world. From Chinese to Arabic, to English, to Indian. I cook many Nigerian dishes as well. It is a gift in my family. For every meal from Jollof rice to ogbono and ob'egwa to Ochokwu, I have given my own personal twist. But for me everything is a learning curve, no matter how much you know, so I am a sucker for cookery books. Here are some of my favourites. African Pot by Shimite Katung. This is a well written recipe book following on the very popular television programme by the same name presented by Shimite. As a television producer myself, I found Shimite's programme very exciting. I followed her through most parts of Nigeria and selected parts of Africa. Her charm and willingness to try different meals without any bias endeared me to her and the programme. Then bam, she wrote a book to share her recipes. A really handy book in the kitchen for everyone but also a delightful book to give as a gift to a foreign visitor.

Jamie Oliver's popular 15 minute meals is one of the most popular cookbooks in the market. One of Britain's biggest celebrity cooks overreaches himself in this book which has overtaken J.K Rowling's The casual vacancy, at the top of the UK Christmas book sales. Nutritious and quick recipes all creatively delivered is a book all cooking aficionados must have and for those who can't cook and wont cook. It's quite easy to follow. And because Jamie has been in the forefront of introducing healthy foods to UK school children, it's a healthy cookery book choice.

Diabetic cookbook. You don't have to be ill or even diabetic to get one of these. We spend too much eating fried foods and oily stuff when we should be eating more vegetables and more fruits. The diabetic cookbook helps you with a healthy lifestyle and teaches you how to eat what is right in moderation.

Any Indian cook book will do. I buy any one that catches my fancy. I have loads of Indian cook books, it's hard to choose my favourite Tip. If you can afford it, pick up any Indian cookbook today. Cooking Indian is an exciting escapade. Their spices are unbelievable. Esoteric and delightful. Use in moderation if you are a first time cook of Indian recipes.

African American Poet Laureate and award winning writer Maya Angelou's Halleluyah, the welcome table, is an exciting cookery book with a story for each recipe. It is essentially a collection of some of the finest African American cooking, each one presented with its unique story. The collection includes Oprah Winfrey's favourite meal whenever she visits Maya. This book is a collector's item.

BONUS BOOKS

Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, while not a cookery book, is a book about the travels and the cooking of a crazy celebrity book. I laughed and cried and laughed again when I read this book. It is so totally hilarious and includes the story of Anthony getting a commission to bake for a wedding, even though he had no training or skills in cake baking.

Isabel Allende's Aphrodite is making its third appearance in this column. It is an interesting mix of stories, anecdotes on the correlation between food and love, research on food and contains a generous dose of hilarity. It also contains a set of recipes in the back of the book. Recipes by Isabel's mother. It is a delicious book.

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