Fine Nigerian cuisine is on Tom’s menu as he tries out two home-delivered boxes
The only thing I really know about Nigerian food is that I really want some more. A double dinner – of suya and red soup, fried plantain and jollof rice – on a sultry summer night last year introduced me to flavours and textures both comfortingly familiar and thrillingly alien too.
Chop, Chat and Chill Kits come from Chuku’s (chukuslondon.co.uk), the small Tottenham ‘Nigerian tapas’ place that’s making a big noise. The House Wrapper (£26.50 plus £6.50 delivery) sees four huge, soft flour tortillas stuffed full with beef, jollof quinoa (lots of tomato and spice), a crisp salad wearing a perky honey chilli dressing, and, perhaps best of all, those sauces – ata din din, all red, sharp scotch bonnet fire. And ayamase, a pourable take on the famous ayamase stew, with green peppers, a good kick of chilli and the rich umami depth of fermented locust beans. A side order of suya meatballs (£7.75) is wonderful too, delicately spiced with whispers of cloves, chillies and ginger. My only complaint? Not enough of that magnificent sauce. But this is sufficient for two greedy people, and will leave you smacking your lips with joy.
If Chuku’s was a joy, then the box from Chishuru (via dishpatch.co.uk, £55 plus £5.50 delivery) is a revelation. This Brixton West African restaurant started as a supper club, and chef Adejoké Bakare sure can cook. By now, the box contents may have changed, but that talent won’t be going anywhere. Cassava fritters, like a sort of tropical rosti, crisp, chewy and laced through with onions. Dipped hot into a cool coconut sauce, they’re gloriously addictive. Pork asun, a Nigerian peppered meat dish, sees great hunks of good quality pig, laced through with lots of lovely fat, in a tart hot pepper sauce. Add exemplary jollof rice, and a kale salad (with zinging lemon dressing and rings of picked onion) that actually makes this dreary leaf attractive, and you have a glorious restaurant box kit. Easy to cook too. Even pudding – hibiscus poached pears with yogurt and a millet spiced crumble – is divine. Both Chuku’s and Chishuru offer a delectably modern take on West African classics. An entry, at least for me, into a whole new world of delight. When restrictions eventually end, Tottenham and Brixton await.
Drinks: Olly’s Easter reds
New Zealand is famous for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir but its Syrah (aka Shiraz) is a game-changer. Expect fresh firm reds full of flavour yet light on booze, classy and restrained for sipping in style. With their scented, peppery frisson these are nimble paired with charry lamb for the Easter feast. Right now, Hawkes Bay is Syrah central in NZ, but throughout the islands, Syrah is the rising star. Splash out for Easter!
WINE OF THE WEEK: TRINITY HILL GIMBLETT GRAVELS SYRAH 2018 (13%), £22.99, nzhouseofwine.co.uk. As memorable as a blueberry firework. All you need with lamb.
TE MATA ESTATE SYRAH 2018 (12.5%), £14.99 in a mix six, Majestic. Sleek and elegant. Like a ballgown made from silken cherry skins.
CRAGGY RANGE GIMBLETT GRAVELS SYRAH 2018 (13%), £21.99, Waitrose. Structured and savoury; decant before drinking to reveal its complete character.
PARITUA SYRAH HAWKES BAY 2018 (13%), £31, pre-order via amathusdrinks.com. Charry, dark, brooding: think blackberries bunking with black olives.
FROMM VINEYARD SYRAH 2016 (13.5%), £42.50, htfwines.co.uk. Serious, rich, burly and burnished for a top-quality Easter treat.