Nigerian Tomato Stew (Nigerian Red Stew)

September 6, 2018 (Last Updated: March 10, 2020)

This Nigerian red stew recipe features my favorite Nigerian tomato stew using farm raised ram meat which adds a distinct, delicious gamey flavor!

Nigerian Tomato Stew with Ram Meat (Lamb tomato Stew) - served with rice

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.

Focus on plate of rice and tomato stew and ram meat in background with bowl of stew in foreground

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.

Bowls of Nigerian Red Stew with Ram Meat and rice

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

Main Ingredients

  • 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.A stack of raw tomatoes and spices
  • 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.

blended tomato mixture in a pot

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.

6-step photo showing caramelization of onions and tomato paste

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.

6-step photo showing addition of spices to stew in pot

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.

stew in pot with chunks of ram meat

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.

top shot of Nigerian red stew in pot

Please be sure to rate this recipe and leave a comment below if you enjoyed this recipe! Also while you’re here why not take a quick second and subscribe to my newsletter to get email notifications on new recipes, click the links to FOLLOW ME ON PINTEREST or INSTAGRAM? You can catch some behind the scenes action, my shopping hauls, personalized tips and friend-only recipes with videos on my Instagram. Also pin this recipe for later and explore some of my favorite recipes on Pinterest and if you love it as much as I know you will, SHARE with some friends! 

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5 from 4 votes

Nigerian Tomato Stew (Nigerian Red Stew) Recipe

This Nigerian red stew recipe features my favorite Nigerian tomato stew using farm raised ram meat which adds a distinct, delicious gamey flavor!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Nigerian
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 353.4kcal

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  • 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!

Notes

Nigerian Tomato Stew Nutrition

Nigerian 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).

 

7 Comments

  • Reply
    Linda
    September 22, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    Loooove love your website! Also love the Pepperless family story 😂🤣😂🤣

    • Reply
      Lois
      October 3, 2018 at 1:36 pm

      LOl! Thanks Linda!

  • Reply
    Blessing
    May 11, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    5 stars
    I totally appreciate this it came in handy this evening

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    February 21, 2020 at 10:42 am

    Thank you for this! I substituted some ingredients but followed your stew cooking process step by step and my stew came out fantastic! It looked and tasted like the way we cook it back home. Thank you again!!

    • Reply
      Lois
      February 24, 2020 at 6:46 pm

      5 stars
      I’m so glad it turned out well! Always a pleasure!

  • Reply
    Faith
    April 22, 2020 at 7:48 am

    5 stars
    This recipe was absolutely delicious! I tried it yesterday and I loved it so much. Definitely a staple

  • Reply
    Chuuqs
    June 13, 2020 at 10:52 am

    5 stars
    I just love the redness

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