Nigeria is often referred to as the “Giant of Africa”, being both the most populous and wealthiest nation on the continent. The combination of a long history, diverse population and varied geography provides a fertile soil for a complex and varied cuisine, but one sadly underrepresented in Toronto.
Nigerian cuisine, like West African cuisine in general, is known for its richness and variety. Many different spices, herbs and ingredients provide a broad pallet for deeply flavoured dishes, often enlivened with a chilli pepper kick. Nigerian feasts are colourful and lavish; market and street foods are plentiful and varied.
Chef Beko — aka Beko The Food Mixologist — has been reaching into this rich tradition and combining it with his classical Western training to bring to Toronto a sophisticated take on what Nigerian food can be.
A classic spice mix of the countless street-side barbeques in Nigeria, suya is a complex and potent mix of powdered peanuts, chiles and spices used to season grilled meats; each blend personal and unique to the chef and the region. Here fresh black tiger shrimp gets the suya treatment, served on a homemade cheddar buttermilk biscuit infused with a drop of Chef’s homemade hot sauce.
Dods & Stewy Stewy
A classic dish of any-time-of-day Nigerian comfort food — a richly flavoured tomato and egg stew —paired with golden & sweet deep-fried plantains, and served with light green-gang salad of romaine, alfalfa & chives.
Nigerian Fried Chicken
These juicy, deep-fried chicken thighs are brined for 24 hours in a mix of orange, apple, thyme, garlic and spices, then dredged in a flour mix spiked with chili, cumin, curry and black pepper for a serious flavour punch.
This is one of the most quintessential dishes in the West Africa repertoire, with many countries embroiled in a perennial “Jollof War” around who gets to claim this flavourful roasted red pepper and tomato rice pilaf as their national dish — perhaps the only war where every side is a winner. Originating in the 14th C. Jolof Empire in the Senegambian region of West Africa, over the centuries this dish spread across Africa, and crossed the Atlantic with the African Diaspora to become the foundation of American rice dishes like Jambalaya and Hoppin’ John.
Served with honey-glazed carrots given a uniquely Nigerian umami-infusion via finely powdered dried crayfish, alongside an unctuous soft-boiled egg, and a side of Chef Beko’s Mixology Vol. 1 homemade, roasted Scotch Bonnet hot sauce.
Honey Bean Ice Cream
Nigerian Honey Beans, known as ewa oloyin in Yoruba, are a variety of black-eyed peas with a uniquely sweet, nutty flavor. Here they are pureed into a rich vanilla bean Crème Anglaise base, finished with a dash of salt and pepper to bring out the complexity of the flavours.
Nigerian-style soft yeasted doughnuts — a popular street snack — served with malt infused whipped cream, a dusting of icing sugar, chocolate drizzle and mint.
At the age of 4, a young Beko first visited Nigeria, a discovery that would change his life forever and plant the seed of a life-long desire to share the gifts of Nigeria with the world. Since then Chef Beko — aka Beko The Food Mixologist — has been cultivating his passion for Nigerian cuisine. Graduating from Humber Culinary in 2010, Chef Beko developed a person style of cooking merging traditional Nigerian flavours and ingredients with classic Western techniques. Chef Beko has cooked in various restaurants around the GTA, from Mark McEwan’s ONE Restaurant to 17 Steakhouse. In 2017, Chef Beko launched a catering project focussing on high-end, Afro-centric, Nigerian-inspired modern cuisine. To take part in Chef Beko’s journey, follow him and his one-of-a-kind creations on Instagram @bekothefoodmixologist.
“To me, good food goes with good conversations, good food goes with good laughs, and good food definitely goes a long way” —Beko The Food Mixologist.
Every weekend The Depanneur invites a guest chef to host a fun, family-style dinner party.