Dundun – the Fried yam sold on and off the streets of Lagos- delicious!

When I watch food programs on Netflix like ‘Somebody Feed Phil’ or the late Anthony Bourdain marching through the streets of Asia and tasting all the delicious street foods, I am filled with envy and a strange kind of nostalgia for my Nigerian street food. Especially – dundun(fried yam).

Image by LuvMattaz TV on You Tube

Street Food


It takes me back to a period in my childhood when I lived with my grandmother in Lagos, Nigeria, and before my parents thrust me into a different kind of life. I can visualise the street sellers and hawkers serving dundun to hungry workers who had to face the stress and anxiety of the chaotic Lagos traffic. Or workers that want to snack on something hot and comforting.

Yam


Many countries eat yam, and also many countries do not eat it or know of it. It is an acquired taste as it is quite fibrous and might even be considered tasteless. Yam was at the heart of Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart‘. Back in the olden days in Nigeria, farmers commanded great wealth from growing yam. It was the staple food of the rich and the poor valued it.

Yam sold at a London High Street

I love the real pounded yam made by pounding cooked yam in a mortar with a pestle. The powdered version sold in a lot of African food shops in the west is a poor relative made up of a mix of potato flour and other varieties.


Ebute Metta restaurant on Plumstead High Street in London promises you yam pounded in mortar and pestle if you gave them an hour’s advance notice. I am yet to try that but promise you their food is delicious. I had okra soup and amala and cried with joy as I ate it.

Two ways to make Dun Dun


Back to dun dun. It is fried in two ways that I know of – the raw yam is cut into chunks or sliced and fried in deep oil, or the yam is parboiled and then fried. You add a bit of salt to taste before frying. I prefer the parboiled one because it is moist on the inside and crusty on the outside. That is two different flavours dancing on your tongue.

Dundun is delicious with fried stew and your choice of beef, chicken fish or stockfish.

Restaurant or Streetfood

The last dundun I ate was out of a street kiosk at Woolwich market, London. It was called “Joy of the Lord Remain Forever”. I would call the young cook an hour in advance and ask for my special – Fried yam, fish and fried stew all for the excellent price of £7! To my thinking, street markets serve tastier deals than restaurants.

I have tried to make dundun but do not think it is as good as what I have tasted on the streets. If you’re adventurous then when next you hit a Nigerian or African restaurant ask for dundun and fried stew. Better still, when you’re next in London, you might want to visit that street kiosk or got to Ebute Metta restaurant.

Ciao!

Ghanaian Tsofi (Turkey Tail)-An interesting part of a Turkey’s anatomy –

dangerously delicious if you don’t know what you’re eating!

A while ago, I was at a friend’s surprise party and, in my usual fashion, went to take a look at the table’s bounteous offerings. The trick for someone that loves food like me is to ensure I eat in small bites, and as food lovers know, that is a bit hard to achieve.

I spied a big platter of tasty fried chicken among the offerings, and it smelt good! I hovered around it and snatched one that promptly disappeared down my mouth in one bite( sorry, I’m not a dainty eater, my Nigerian boarding school paid put to that).

Chofi /Turkey Tail

A burst of flavour

I closed my eyes in awe and reverence at the intense burst of flavour that increased as I chewed. This was the most well-seasoned chicken I had ever tasted. I snatched 4 more onto my plate and perched in a corner like a puppy with a bone and the countenance that said interrupt this one woman chicken party at your peril.

Once the last of the bites had disappeared down to my grateful stomach, I washed it down with some wine and then beamed at everyone in satisfaction. Then I gave the cook lavish compliments that were graciously accepted.

A shocking truth

Later on, as we drove back home, I continued to wax lyrics about the delicious chicken bites and how I would love to go cook it at home if I got the recipe. My friend in the car said that this would be quickly arranged, then he casually said, ‘you keep calling it chicken bits. You do know it is not chicken?’. I said indeed I did not. What was it then? He said it was Turkey tail!

Friends, that is another name for Turkey’s butt! A particular delicacy in Ghana! My jaws dropped. Should I laugh or cry? Of course, I laughed! I had just eaten turkey, yansh! (Nigerian pidgin English for that bit of Turkey). That tail is a gland that connects the turkey’s feathers to its body, and it is filled with oil mainly meant for grooming Turkey’s feathers!

Now, don’t you go laughing at me? What is the delicacy in your own country? As I am British Nigerian, I can say mine is;

Giant Snails(not those tiny escargots!) — Nigeria
Jellied Eels(Eurgh! Britain)😂😂🤣