Bukola says if you order food in a restaurant and there is corn-on-the-cob amongst the options, it is going to be an expensive meal. This is true. It’s almost amazing how this saple food can be transformed in a variety of ways to increase its value, and presence in dishes.
For me, corn holds a special meaning. It reminds me of rainy days and evenings spent looking over a vendor’s open cauldron of boiling water choosing the juciest corn in the lot to buy. It reminds me of cozy moments seated in the midst of my siblings munching on boiled corn all the while telling myself not to think of the regret I’ll have when it gets stuck between my teeth.
Corn to me is warmth, and as its season approaches though I am not home with my family, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with an unexplainable joy.
The Naija Corn Festival organized by TBAH is another reason the corn season this year holds a special appeal to me. It is more than just corn; it is me sharing the joy I derive from the food with other people, and learning more of its uses.
It’s fascinating how corn as a food is malleable. Growing up, I only ever ate boiled corn with pear (left to become tender in hot water then rubbed over in salt before eating). I couldn’t imagine any other pairing with it. Although my older brother preferred his corn ‘roasted’, we all ate corn with pear.
During the mandatory year Nigerian youths spend in a programme called NYSC (National Youth Service Corps), I spent my time outside the state I grew up in. There, I encountered people savouring corn with coconut. At first, I couldn’t grasp how such a pairing would taste, but trying it out reminded me why you can eat a meal in one form, and still be amazed by its flavour when it is made differently. That is the beauty of food.
I became curious about other ways and with other pairings corn can be enjoyed. Some popular meals with corn as a core ingredient in Nigeria are:
Akamu/Ogi: The raw form of ogi is made from yellow or white corn. There is no Nigerian household that doesn’t know ogi. In many homes, having ogi as part of your breakfast is a Saturday tradition.
Jollof Rice and Corn: Nigeria is renowned for its smokey jollof rice recipes. An upgraded form of party jollof rice is jollof rice with corn. It is not uncommon to find sweet corn in fried rice amongst other ingredients, but with jollof rice, it unlocks a whole new flavour.
Igbagwu Oka: This is of Igbo origin. It is made with fresh corn, dried corn, spices, vegetable oil, termites then wrapped in Uma leaves and boiled.
Beans and Corn Porridge (Adalu): This delicacy is made by boiling beans and shelled corn mixed with spices and palm oil.
Corn Fufu: This is made with a mix of corn flour and cassava flour, and enjoyed with soup. It is usually made to cater to a large crowd in parties.
What corn foods have you tried out, and which is your favourite?