Hello People! Long time no see! It has been a while since my last recipe post, but I am back! Since I was gone for a while, I decided I wanted to come back with a little something special. My tomato stew has been a staple and a hit in my house and I had promised my husband that I would not be sharing my recipe with anyone. For years my sisters would come over to my house, eat my stew and beg me for my recipe, and I would say No, every. single. time. Now here I am not only sharing this Nigerian red stew recipe, but specifically, I’ll be making this Nigerian tomato stew with Ram meat… using farm raised ram which adds a more delicious gamey flavor! Y’all are really special.
Before everyone thinks I am a big ol’ meanie; Yes, I eventually decided to share my Nigerian stew recipe with my sisters before I decided to share it with the internet. This stew is pretty much a staple in almost every Nigerian household so I needed to know it could be replicated perfectly before exposing it to the outside! As you can imagine, Nigerians can be pretty particular with our popular dishes, especially our rice staples! Not meaning to humble-brag but after the feedback I received, I believe you are finally getting what I consider the ultimate Nigerian tomato stew.
Tomato stew is a staple eaten all over West Africa with some ingredient variations based on culture and individual preferences. Between this and ofada stew, another Nigerian red stew staple, this is probably even more common in Nigerian households due to its ease of preparation. What ties all of the different stew variations together is that they are commonly made with blended tomatoes (sometimes with onions and peppers), cooked with some oil and some type of protein. Depending on who is cooking it for you; the type of oil used, the other vegetables blended with the tomatoes, the consistency of the tomato stew and the protein used to cook the stew varies. I chose ram for this stew mostly out of Nostalgia (also because it tastes AMAZING!), but also because ram is one of the more popular celebratory meats eaten in Nigeria, especially during the Eid el Kabir season. At the end of the Islamic ramadan fast, it was not unusual to have your Islamic neighbors share some of the ram meat with you as part of their celebrations. Since ram can be expensive, stews with ram meat were more common during such holidays but many Nigerians with the means would happily avail themselves of this tomato stew delicacy outside of the holiday seasons.
How to Make Nigerian Tomato Stew
- 2 lbs of Braised ram meat chunks (about 907 grams ) – Because a ram is more mature than lamb, it has more flavor and texture. Meat from the ewe (female lamb) while it has more flavor than lamb, is usually tougher, so a ram is my choice meat for this tomato stew. Since I get my meat from a local farm, I have the privilege to choose the exact kind of animal I want for meat. If you are limited to a grocery store, stew cut lamb or beef will be a fair substitute for this recipe. You could also use old layer hens, and even stew cut pork; however, if you really want to try this Nigerian red stew recipe exactly as is, and you cannot get ram meat locally, the meat with the closest flavor profile is goat meat (chevon). We use goat and ram meat interchangeably at home and the stew is just as delicious with either!
- 3.5 lbs or Plum tomatoes (about 1570 grams) – I made this stew in the summertime so tomatoes are in season. Tomatoes in full season are very sweet and juicy and usually make for the best tomato stews. I frequently use roma or plum tomatoes because they have a low water content, and are usually sweet when in season; however, If you do not have access to roma or any variety of plum tomatoes, I suggest using any other low moisture, sweet tomato variety you have access to. If you want to make tomato stew with out-of-season tomatoes, instead of getting “fresh” tomatoes that will probably taste like a really watery cucumber (aka lacking in flavor), I recommend using good quality canned whole tomatoes. Tomatoes are usually canned when they are in season, thus retaining the flavor and sweetness that you get from fresh, in season tomatoes. “Fresh” tomatoes that are not in season are probably grown in a greenhouse (which usually means less flavor), and while they will suffice in a pinch, they do not produce the best tasting stew.
- 2 large Onions
- 2 large Bell peppers – In Nigeria, the actual pepper of choice is natively called “tatashe” by the yorubas. Tatashe is a red bell pepper variant that has thinner skin but is more intense and chili-like level of spiciness.
- 4 Scotch bonnet peppers
- 3 cloves Garlic
- Ginger: small thumb size
- Half cup of Flavorless oil – I used grape seed oil, because that’s what I had available since I picked it up on a sale. Other flavorless oils that can be used are canola oil, vegetable oil, avocado oil and corn oil.
- One and three-quarter cups of Lamb stock – (I used the liquid stock from braising the ram, but it is acceptable to use stock from the grocery store if you prefer)
- 1 teaspoon of Curry powder
- 2 teaspoon of Dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon of Bouillon powder or one cube (use any type you like, doesn’t matter)
- Salt (to taste)
Blend the tomato mixture
Blend the tomatoes, a single large onion, bell peppers, scotch bonnet peppers, garlic and ginger, and set aside.
Broil and braise the meat
Broil the braised lamb chunks in the oven until it is browned on both sides then set aside (check out this link on how to quickly and properly braise the meat or review the quick overview in the recipe notes below this recipe.
Prep the tomato paste
In a large pot Cook the blended tomato mixture on medium heat until it forms a paste. It should reduce to about half its volume. While the blended tomato mixture is reducing, slice one large onion and set aside.
Caramelize the onions and add tomato paste
Once the tomato mixture has reduced, scoop the paste out of the pot and set it aside. In the same pot, heat the oil on medium heat and caramelize the onions until it is mostly softened. Add the tomato paste to the caramelized onions and add the cook on low- medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add meat stock and spices
After 5 minutes, pour in the stock, and season with bouillon, dried thyme and curry powder. Stir and continue to cook for another 10 minutes on low heat.
Add meat of choice
After 10 minutes, add in the cooked ram, stir, and cook the stew covered for another 5 minutes on low heat. Taste for salt and adjust to your preference, and cook for another 5 minutes covered.
After 5 minutes, your stew is ready to serve! Nigerian tomato stew is usually paired with boiled rice, beans, plantain, starchy root vegetables like yam and sometimes soups commonly eaten with fufu.
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Nigerian Tomato Stew (Nigerian Red Stew) Recipe
- 2 lbs Braised ram meat chunks
- 3.5 lbs Plum tomatoes (about 1570 grams)
- 2 large Onions
- 2 large Bell peppers
- 4 Scotch bonnet peppers
- 3 cloves Garlic
- Ginger small thumb size
- ½ cup Flavorless oil ( I used grape seed oil)
- 1 ¾ cups Lamb stock (I used the liquid from braising the ram)
- 1 tsp Curry powder
- 2 tsp Dried thyme
- 1 tsp Bouillon
- Salt (to taste)
- Blend the tomatoes, 1 large onion, bell peppers, scotch bonnet peppers, garlic and ginger, and set aside.
- Broil the braised lamb chunks in the oven until it is browned on both sides then set aside.
- In a large pot Cook the blended tomato mixture on medium heat until it forms a paste. It should reduce to about half its volume.
- While the blended tomato mixture is reducing, slice one large onion and set aside.
- Once the tomato mixture has reduced, scoop the paste out of the pot and set it aside. In the same pot, heat the oil on medium heat and caramelize the onions until it is mostly softened.
- Add the tomato paste to the caramelized onions and add the cook on low- medium heat for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, pour in the stock, and season with bouillon, dried thyme and curry powder. Stir and continue to cook for another 10 minutes on low heat.
- After 10 minutes, add in the cooked ram, stir, and cook the stew covered for another 5 minutes on low heat. Taste for salt and adjust to your preference, and cook for another 5 minutes covered.
- After 5 minutes, you stew is ready to serve!
Nigerian Tomato Stew NutritionNigerian tomato stew calories and nutrition information is shown below. Ingredients listed above were enough for about 10 servings (could be more depending on how small your serving sizes are).