Nigerian Stews & Iyàn

Moving sucks. We’re crawling over the finish line, trying to get the new place set up but 2020 keeps happening! Ideally we’ll be done by next week– but for now a post that’s been coming for a long time. Are you craving Nigerian food yet? I am…all the time.


This is pretty much the standard Nigerian “party” stew that’s the base for a lot of different meals. You blend tomatoes, bell peppers, scotch bonnet peppers, and onions and sauté that base in oil. OK, you normally fry it in the oil, but I’ve been using less and less oil lately. Once it starts to thicken, add dried crayfish, tomato paste, and the usual mix of spices like salt. pepper, paprika, and thyme (or maggi…or curry powder…lots of options here).


This stew works well with chicken, beef, or fish. Once it’s thick like this, add in seared meats and keep simmering until tender. From here, you could use the stew for Jollof rice– or maybe get more creative with stew and grits?


This time,  I went for the classic okra stew, which helps you eat with your hand. It’s simple: add finely diced okra to oil, and slowly add water until absorbed. If done correctly,  the okra will “draw” or thicken, and help you pick up the tomato stew with the pounded yam. It may be a new texture for you,  but it’s a favorite among Southern Nigerian people like the Yorùbá. Season it to taste, then keep warm until you’re ready to eat.


Now,  I made this right after work one night with too many tabs open in my brain,  so I didn’t really get the texture I wanted (don’t cook when you’re hungry!) But regardless,  I’ll walk you through the way it should be done. Better yet, check out this post. Luckily this okra stew is much easier to make.

You’re almost there– now how are you going to eat this one again? By now you’ve tried pounded cassava (eba) and pounded yam (iyàn). So, the choice is yours.

Let’s cook.

You’ll need:

2-3 Chicken Thighs

4 Cups Roma Tomatoes, crushed

2 Bell Peppers, diced

1 Onion, diced

1-2 Scotch Bonnet Peppers, minced

4 Cloves of Garlic, minced

4 Cups Okra, minced

3 Cups Yam or Cassava Flour

1 Cup Vegetable Oil

1 Tbs Dried Thyme

1 Tbs Paprika

1 Tbs Onion Powder

2 Tbs Tomato Paste

4 Cups Warm Water

Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Sear the chicken on medium-high on all sides, then set aside. Blend tomatoes, onion, garlic, and peppers, then use it to deglaze the pan. Stir, and add 1/2 Cup of vegetable oil, and cover.
  2. Stir the stew as needed to prevent burning. Season to taste, and reduce by one-half. 
  3. Mix the tomato paste with a few tablespoons of warm water, then stir into the stew to thicken. Return the chicken to the pot, cover an simmer until tender.
  4. Sauté the okra in a separate pot, and season until softened. Add water in half cup increments until the okra softens completely. Season to taste, and keep warm.
  5. Finally, mix the remaining water with your cassava or yam flour, and stir firmly until a paste forms. Adjust the water as needed to reach a dough-like consistency. 
  6. Plate and serve.


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