By Nma Jewel
In the past weeks in Nigeria, there has been a scarcity of tomatoes. This event has driven a few; well not a few, but a ton of Nigerians crazy. It’s as if someone took their crack pipe, tied an anchor to it and tossed it into the Atlantic ocean. I noticed people on social media scrambling for recipes for “tomato-less” stew…In fact when I posted a recipe for carrot stew, I could literally hear people breathing with a sigh of relief.
In fact, when Nigerians saw the festival of tomatoes in Spain, them vex no be small. Say what? throwing tomatoes as in a food fight…omase o; for wetin na? See how those people were wasting tomato sha! Will they make heaven at all? God does not like this type of waste na!
When the tomato scarcity started, a lot of Nigerians complained about not being able to make their Sunday rice and stew. Some people were freaking out and wanted alternatives to the Nigerian tomato stew. Listen, only God knows where we got the habit of making rice and stew every Sundays. Yes, even my mother made sure we had rice and stew every Sunday for lunch or dinner. Stew was specifically for Sundays. Fast forward to today, my mother keeps reminding me to make my ajebutters Rice and stew every Sunday!
The Nigerian kitchen can be more. If you have no tomatoes, you can always improvise. There is really no cause to freak out; and over some tomatoes too? There is no need to blame Buhari or APC. The tomatoes were attacked by pests and not them APC brooms haha! Nigerians like conspiracy theories sha!!!
Below are the images of a few types of sauces that can be made without tomatoes:
I did a poll in order to understand why and how the origin of Sunday rice and stew came to being and below were some answers from my friends on social media:
“I got to know that it’s an Igbo thing when I served in Enugu. I have always had Igbo friends in my neck of the wood. They would always prepare specials on Sundays, not just stew though.” Usman Abubakar”I honestly cannot answer that but I grew up seeing it as a special every Sunday.” Nene Chidinma Kayla Ezike”After church we go chop rice and stew served with chicken heads, legs for sakabanaja flat wide bowl and granma and her gran shidren go take hand wak d nice family food on any given sunday.d stew na ofigbo, red oyel dem take fry and cook. Hmmm.” Azuka Jebose”Am trying to stop the Sunday Sunday rice in my house. Someone said I shouldn’t allow the kids grow with that mentality. Like they are not grown already. Today we had pounded yam with egusi soup. And fresh juice. I hardly pound, but I had to. You know what? They loved it. Will try something different next Sunday. Special rice can be any day of the week.” Spiceangel Ifeoma”Rice and stew. The only reason I dreaded Sundays as a child.” Eketi Edima Ette”Haha.. The norm got tiring at a point so I get pissed when I remember we will be having rice and stew but now it has changed..We even swallow semo, cook beans and the rest..But as a kid, rice and stew was the Sunday medicine” Udeolisa Onyinyechi”Even sweeter now cooked with scarce expensive fresh tomato jos” Chikezie Emeruem”Till date, any sunday without Rice for me isn’t fulfilled! It mustn’t be Rice and stew. Jollof, fried, ofeakwu, sauce, ofada etc.. Rice is Sundays’ special! lol! I think it has something to do with the early church in Nigeria marking Sundays as feast days. Families were encouraged to cook special meals on sundays after Church service. Rice used to be the most special those days. That’s how it started and turned to a norm.” Maryclaire Chichi Dickson”It’s a Nigerian thing” Evans Adetokunbo Emmanuel”I hardly had stew growing up said Ik. My mom made a mixture of chicken and vegetables i.e. carrots, broccoli and cabbages. She called it a sauce, but I’ll just say it’s a stew without tomatoes. It’s pretty much a salad stew :)…If she ever added tomatoes, it was may be one and she always had it chopped up before going in the stew…I prefer it because it’s quite healther than the regular tomato stew which takes a while to cook because you have to cook the stew well enough to reduce the tomatoes. When I say vegetables, I mean a variety and not just the basic Ugu vegetables.””I still love the rice and stew idea. Totally rad!” Nigerian Lazy Chef”I don’t know if it’s an Igbo thing for real, but Sunday rice is because back in the day rice was so scarce that it was eaten mostly by the rich and on special occasions; which wearing your bottom box and going to church on Sunday was” Chioma Amanoh
Not everyday rice and stew and not everything must be made with tomatoes…There are meals like Nsala that wont even break the bank to make. There is Egusi Igbo which makes the use of no tomatoes and any kind of green vegetables. There is the Oiless Egusi that makes the use of absolutely no tomatoes or oil 🙂 And of course nothing beats the Almighty coconut rice 🙂
Dear Nigerians, our food pass tomatoes! I promise you…just think outside the box 🙂
Meanwhile, enjoy the video below. No allow make the scarcity of tomato take you do yeye