If Nigerian tapas sounds like an unusual concept, that’s because it is. In fact, Chuku’s, run by siblings Emeka and Ifeyinwa Frederick, bills itself as the world’s first Nigerian tapas restaurant. The menu is built on classic Nigerian dishes with a twist. Take the egusi stew: traditionally, it’s a mix of blended melon seeds, a hearty sauce, bitter leaves and meat or fish. ‘Egusi is the soup that we ate at home, it’s our favourite’, says Emeka. Here, he explains how he gave the dish a modern vegan makeover.
‘They’re called swallows, and they’re made from root vegetables. We use yam. Usually it’s one big ball and you break it off. We make them smaller so they’re ready to eat.’
The red stew
‘Growing up, our mum always added red peppers and tomatoes to her egusi stew. Our red stew is a blend of those things. Just like Mum’s stew, it adds sweetness.’
‘Egusi is the name of the melon seeds that are key to the dish. It’s not honeydew melon or cantaloupe, it’s more of a bitter melon. We grind them in a blender.’
‘The ingredients in an egusi stew are usually mixed together, but we wanted to present the parts separately so people trying it for the first time could taste all the elements.’
‘Traditionally, there isn’t a green stew. Spinach is usually mixed into the egusi, but we created the spinach stew to celebrate the dish’s individual colours and components.’
Chuku’s. 274 High Rd. £7.50.