This Easy Vegan Ayamase can be made in half the time!
I believe a lot of Nigerians can agree that Ayamase or Designer stew is a time-consuming dish. Often times ayamase is eaten during special occasions or a party setting. My first time remembering eating ayamase was in December 2011 in Abeokuta, Ogun State Nigeria. I had it at a local outdoor pub while enjoying a football game on a large projector with my brother and cousins.
The ayamase was served wrapped in uma leaf, over a serving of Ofada rice.
You are going to love this vegan ayamase recipe because it is easy and quick, which saves you time to do other things...like that new TikTok dance you've been struggling with.
🇳🇬 History of Ayamase
It would not be fair to talk about ayamase without talking about ofada rice and its origins. The story of how the stew came about is often muddled. The most popular is of this woman based in Ofada Nigeria (Ogun State) who wanted to impress her city friends with some a delicious dish. She went to the market and bought an assortment of meat to add to her stew. Her dish became a crowd-pleaser, generating a buzz for this special regional dish. Her name is believed to be Ayamase.
Ayamase stew is known as green stew, ofada stew, as well as designer stew. Designer stew stems back to the story of Ayamase wanting to please her city friends with something delicious and luxurious.
This stew is often served with a local rice named after the town it was grown in, Ofada.
🥣 What Goes into Making the Stew?
Ayamase stew consists of green sweet pepper, onions, tons of habanero peppers, locust beans fried in palm oil that had been slowly heated for a short length of time, this is called bleaching. The most stressful part of Ayamase is bleaching the palm oil. Bleaching palm oil can take between 10 to 15 minutes. I have seen recipes even claim 20 minutes. Bleaching palm oil can go very wrong, quick!
I enjoyed Ozoz Sokoh at Kitchen Butterfly's blog post breaking down the process of bleaching palm oil. You can see more on her how-to post, here. A couple of years ago I almost burned down my apartment while bleaching palm oil. It was a traumatic experience, so I've been SUPER careful during the rare occasions I bleach palm oil.
After bleaching the palm oil, you then add blended green bell peppers and habanero to fry. Traditionally, there is a combination of meats and fish that is then added to the stew and is simmered until the flavors become rich and savory.
💕 Along Comes Simi and Temi
The process of making the stew can be time-consuming, enter Simi and Temi.
I first heard about the Simi and Temi brand on Instagram through a friend of mine based in Seattle. The brand Simi and Temi was created by Funmi, a Pharmacist, restauranteur based in Chicago, Illinois, and the mother of Simi and Temi. I reached out to her after discovering her brand to confirm whether the ingredients were vegan. They were! I went ahead and placed my order.
Through the lessons of restaurant ownership and cooking efficiencies, Simi and Temi pivoted to create Simplify African Cooking, an approach that would streamline the process of cooking complex and time consuming African dishes. The Ayamase Pepper Mix is the first product developed. You can purchase your mix based on spice level: Mild and Moderate. The ingredients are simple without any added flavorings or animal products. Perfect for a vegan ayamase
You can learn more about the brand below:
🌱 The Plant-Based Adaptation - Vegan Ayamase
Designer stew is usually created with a large variety of meats that are often boiled and then fried. I always start any stew based dish with some veggie stock. For my vegan ayamase, I wanted to do the same but with mushrooms. I've incorporated the combination of shiitake mushrooms, wood ear, and beechwood mushrooms.
You can get very creative with your mushrooms. You can even replace it with vegan meats like Beyond or Field Roast sausages.
🔥 My Final Thoughts
This post is not sponsored, first of all. Second of all, I purchased these items with my own money. With that said, my husband and I thoroughly enjoy this dish. I purchased 3 items, all were for Moderate heat. For my next order, I plan to order the Mild version. We enjoyed the burn because we couldn't stop eating it. My husband's words are "It's so good but so spicy, and I can't stop eating it." as he scoops more unto his plate.
To make my experiences as authentic as possible, for grains I used samba rice or a brown/red wild rice mixture. I served it on top of a banana leaf.
Use a container to store your vegan ayamase in the fridge for 7 days, preferably in a glass container. To reheat, portion out your serving and warm it in the microwave.
- Check out A Butterfly Kitchen's blog post on how to bleach palm oil.
- If you can't find Ofada rice, consider Samba rice or any brown/red rice available.
- For additional authenticity, serve on an uma leaf or banana leaf.
- 1 pack of Simi and Temi Ayamase Mix
- 1 cup of dried woodear mushroom
- 16 oz pack of shiitake mushrooms
- 8 oz of beechwood mushrooms
- 2 tbs of mushroom bouillon
- 2 tbs of salt
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1.5 cups of palm oil
- 2 tbs of Iru/ Locust Bean/ Dawadawa
- Pour the pepper mix into a bowl, pour 3 cups of warm water over your mix.
- Let soak for at least two hours.
- Pour 6 cups of boiling water over your dried wood ear mushrooms. Let soak for 10 mins.
- In a medium pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add ½ of your onions along with your shiitake and beechwood mushrooms.
- Add 1 tbs of bouillon and salt and let simmer over medium-low for 15 mins.
- While the broth is coming together, rinse and massage woodear mushrooms until you no longer see or feel dirt/debris.
- Drain the water from the wood ear mushrooms. Add the wood ear mushrooms to the stock with the remaining mushrooms. Turn off heat and set aside.
- In a heavy-based pot over low heat, bleach your palm oil covered for 12 mins. Use a timer.
- After 12 mins, remove the lid and saute the remainder of the onions. Increase the burner to medium-high. Add your locust beans. Let cook for 3 mins or until onions are translucent.
- Gradually pour in your soaked ayamase, with water, into the pot. Fry for 15 mins, stirring occasionally.
- Drain the mushrooms from the mushroom stock, and add the mushrooms to the ayamase. Reduce heat to a simmer, cook for 10 mins.
- Add the remaining salt and bouillon, adjust to taste. Cook for 5 mins.
Allow to cool and serve with your choice of grains.