Zuhra’s Nigerian iftar

A portrait from Manhattan and Nigeria

In May 2019, Zuhra opened her home to me to share a typical Nigerian iftar. She taught me how to make this spicy and delicious Pepper Soup with chicken, and the required accompaniment of Kosai (bean fritters).

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Nigerian Iftar with Zuhra

Zuhra is an accomplished professional chef, known for her contemporary take on traditional Nigerian food. One way she blends her upbringing with her French culinary training is by cooking the foods of her childhood in Nigeria, and plating them in a fine-dining style. She also creates dishes that fuse those two aspects of her experience. You can learn more about her on her site, and see some of her sample menus here.

I’ve known Zuhra for a few years. I first ate at her table through EatWith, when she cooked an amazing gourmet Nigerian meal centered around the peanut. It was simultaneously a socio-economic lesson in the history of peanuts in Nigeria, an outstanding gourmet meal, and an art opening. She had partnered with an artist who used the peanut shells in several pieces of art that were on display, which meant it was also a zero-waste event!

Since then, we have shared many meals, at my home or hers, and even at restaurants. She also happens to have been one of the two guests at the first iftar we ever hosted, in 2018.

Last year, she invited me to cook with her at her apartment in lower Manhattan. She taught me how to make the spicy and delicious Nigerian Pepper Soup, and Kosai. They are typical foods found at iftar meals during Ramadan in Nigeria.

homemade maamouls brought to a nigerian iftar.
homemade maamouls brought to a nigerian iftar.

Also pictured are the ma’amouls I’ve grown fond of making during Ramadan ever since learning about them in speaking to Hanadi Doleh for her Ramadan reflections portrait.

Like many of chefs, Zuhra didn’t have the recipes written down, but now she does! Try them for yourself and let us know how it goes.

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Nigerian Hits

Zuhra had her playlist of Nigerian favorites on while we cooked together, and this playlist represents some of my favorites.

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Zuhra’s Nigerian Pepper Soup

pepper soup, with chicken and kosai bean fritter

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Zuhra’s Kosai (Bean Fritters)

fresh kosai or bean fritters, one of which is shaped like a duckling
a kosai shaped like a little duckling! a happy accident.
kosai nigerian been fritters frying
soft, scrumptious, freshly fried kosai

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Meghna’s Ma’amouls

Ever since first making them after posting Hanadi’s Ramadan reflections, I bring them to every iftar I am invited to, and also give them as gifts near Eid. You can see from the photos that my iftar at Zuhra’s home was no exception.

plate of delicious maamouls, freshly made

Bonus

Time-lapse of Pepper Soup

Check back soon for one of our time-lapse videos, made from the sounds of Pepper Soup and kosai cooking from start to finish, including the sizzle in the pan, and beats coming out of the speaker.

nigerian pepper soup with chicken and kosai