So I got to meet the amazing Hakeem Jimoh, proprietor of Veggie Victory, the first vegan restaurant in Nigeria. (Shout out to my friend Cornelius for connecting us!)
What I love most about Veggie V (as I affectionately call her) is that it’s the only restaurant in Lagos where I don’t have to ask what’s in the food before I order. It’s fully vegan, as in no animal products whatsoever. But as you’ll know if you follow this blog, that doesn’t mean the food is boring at all. They’ve got all the usual Nigerian fare – jollof rice, ofada rice, soups and swallows, and even suya! My absolute favourite thing on the menu is the suya, you just have to try it. Even if you can’t make it to Freedom Park, you can order online; they’re on HelloFood (abi is it Jumia Food now…)
Hakeem and I talked about veganism in Nigeria (naturally), the upcoming Veg Fest, and his new product called Veg Meat. Veg Meat is the first (as far as I know) locally made packaged meat substitute in Nigeria. Hakeem wants to make meatless meals as accessible to the average Nigerian as possible, and Veg Meat is a major part of that vision. Veg Meat is made from wheat protein – AKA seitan. It comes pre-cooked so it’s ready to use and doesn’t require refrigeration. Best of all, it’s super affordable – one 500 naira pack is enough for a sizeable pot of soup.
And guess what, Hakeem gave me a free sample! Did I mention that he’s amazing? 🙂
I made a chunky curried okra soup with my first ever packet of Veg Meat. Seasoned with a wonderfully aromatic Garam Masala mix, it’s the perfect warm-up dish on a cold evening.
The texture of the Veg Meat in the soup was so beef-like, I had to keep checking the packet to make sure it was vegan. I think the way they pre-cook the Veg Meat gives it an even firmer, chewier texture than regular boiled seitan, which makes it a lovely addition to soup. This is definitely going to be my go-to meat substitute, it’s just perfect for Nigerian cooking. I wouldn’t advise eating too much in one go, though. Seitan is still a processed food, which you want to minimise on a whole foods, plant based diet. Also it seems to contain quite a bit of oil.
What you will need
* makes a 2 litre pot of soup
+ 4 cups fresh okra, sliced
+ 2 cups chopped ewedu leaves
+ 1 pack Veg Meat
+ 2 dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
+ 2 teaspoons minced garlic
+ 1 large red onion, chopped
+ 2 tablespoons tomato paste
+ Spices: 1 teaspoon garam masala spice mix, 3 teaspoons curry powder, 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, salt
+ 2 tablespoons liquid aminos
+ 2 tablespoons wholegrain flour
+ 1 tablespoon olive oil
How to make it
Step 1: Stir-fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Add the garam masala add stir-fry another 2 minutes.
Step 2: Add about a cup of water, plus the shiitake mushroom pieces, liquid aminos and tomato paste. Leave to simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes, then add the Veg meat. Cover and leave to simmer another 5 minutes.
Step 3: Add the okro plus half a cup of water (more if still too thick) and leave to simmer uncovered for 3 minutes.
Step 4: Mix the flour with enough water to form a smooth, thick paste, then stir into the broth. Add the rest of the spices. Leave to simmer for two minutes,
Step 5: Add the ewedu leaves to the pot, but do not stir. Cover the pot and let the leaves steam for a few minutes, then stir them into the soup and turn off the heat. Adjust seasoning if desired. And you’re done!