World Cup Cook-off: Nigeria and Denmark

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Esther and Stephen Akinlabi. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

FIRST we were counting down years, then months, then weeks and now, incredibly, the hugely anticipated 2010 Fifa World Cup is finally upon us. South Africa at last has a chance to show the world it is worthy of hosting the world’s biggest soccer spectacle. And, as we have been doing these past few months, The Global Table blog will continue bringing you recipes from the 32 nations playing in the tournament, which kicked off in spectacular fashion at South Africa’s new Soccer City in Johannesburg yesterday.

Today’s volunteer cooks are two international students at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). Esther Akinlabi of Nigeria and Charlotte Quitzau of Denmark are each sharing a traditional recipe from their home country as part of The Global Table’s World Cup Cook-off.

And our Cook-off is far from over, as we well be running recipes every weekend, right up to the very last game in July, with France, Slovenia, Slovakia, Algeria, North Korea, Cameroon, Paraguay, Ivory Coast and Chile still to be featured. If you have any links to the above countries, please contact us at share your recipes!

First up today is Esther, who hails from the former capital Lagos, in Nigeria’s Yorubaland. Esther’s husband, Stephen, helped prepare today’s dish, and the couple also has two beautiful young children, son Akin and daughter Stephanie, who live with them in Port Elizabeth. Esther is studying towards a doctorate in mechanical engineering at the NMMU, and will graduate next April, while Stephen is also enrolled in this field of study and will graduate in 2012.

The Akinlabis say soccer is by far the most popular sport in Nigeria, a country which is ethnically very diverse, although interestingly enough, sports like polo and swimming are especially popular among the affluent classes. Akin and Stephanie are already closely following the soccer action and have a big chart up on their wall on which to document all the participating teams’ progress.

“As Nigerian culture is a combination of cultural influences from many tribes, speaking as many as 375 languages, there is a great variation in the recipes that are prepared,” Esther says. The use of palm oil, however, is a common factor in a great many of these dishes. It can be difficult to track down in Port Elizabeth but as there is quite a large Nigerian community here, there are several Bay shops where one can buy this ingredient, as well as the dried and powdered melon seeds which are a key ingredient in the recipe for Egusi which Esther is sharing with us today.

“A few other common Nigerian dishes are Isu, which is spiced, boiled yams; Dodo or fried plantain; Efo or green stew or Iyan, or pounded yams.”

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Semolina with melon soup. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Melon soup or Egusi with semolina porridge on the side

This very traditional Nigerian dish has quite a bit of fire power, thanks to the fresh red chillies! There is an African shop in Parliament Street, near the Rink Street end of it, where you can buy the dried melon seeds and the palm or ground-nut oil. The meat which Esther added was chicken but beef or fish work equally well. Simply boil the chicken in some spices of your choice, then fry in palm or ground nut oil to add a bit of colour; set aside till needed. Esther has made semolina porridge on the side as the more typical yam flour is hard to find in South Africa.


Dried and powdered white melon seeds, about 500g; 1 bunch of fresh spinach, washed and shredded; palm or ground-nut oil for frying; 1 Maggi beef stock cube; salt to taste; about 1kg of beef, chicken or fish which you will already have cooked before; 6 medium fresh tomatoes, diced; 2 fresh red chillies, diced; ½ red bell pepper, diced; 1 large onion, diced; about 500g of semolina flour plus about 1 litre of water to boil it in.


To prepare the semolina, gently bring some water to boil, then slowly pour a little semolina flour at a time into the boiled water, stirring all the while until it thickens. Stir it frequently until cooked through. Set aside.

For the melon soup, first blend the tomatoes, red pepper, chillies and onions together.

Place the oil in a pot and heat it. Meanwhile mix the melon powder with a little water to make a paste. Add the melon paste to the hot oil and fry for a while. Add the blended tomatoes, red pepper, chillies and onions to the pot. Cook for a while, then add Maggi cube and salt. Now add the beef, chicken and fish to the mixture and cook for a while. Ad the sliced spinach the pot and boil for a while until the dish is ready.

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Danish student Charlotte Quitzau. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

World Cup Cook-off: Denmark

“I arrived in the ‘rainbow nation’ in January, from my little home country of Denmark,” says Charlotte Quitzau, 28. “I say ‘little’ because I am still amazed by South Africa´s enormous land. I find it interesting that this country has such a big diversity in people and nature; just in Port Elizabeth it´s like moving to different countries from Summerstrand to Central and the townships.”

Charlotte, who hails from the Danish capital of Copenhagen, says she came here because Africa had always been on her list of places to visit. “Since I’ve travelled a lot in my life, I felt like staying longer than just passing through on a tourist visa. I was accepted at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and am studying photography, which has always been my biggest passion in life. This way I get to stay for some years, have time enough to experience the beauty of Africa and work with photography in a new way.”

And now on to food and football… “I can really feel the football fever now,” she enthuses. “It’s amazing what football can do to gather people and bring joy to a nation.”

Danish food, Charlotte says, is influenced by several European countries, but because it is surrounded by ocean and islands, the Danes also eat a great deal of fish. They also enjoy a dark bread which, in English phonetics, would equate to ‘rubrod’ and is piled high will all manner of toppings.

Another favourite national dish is meatballs, or frikadeller, which are served with new potatos and gravy year around – and this is the recipe Charlotte is sharing with us.

Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Danish frikadeller. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Danish Meatballs or Frikadeller – The Recipe

These frikadeller are usually made with minced veal and pork, but in South Africa you may have to settle for minced beef and pork. She has served it with boiled new potatoes, gravy and red coleslaw, but pickles or beetroot go equally well with this dish, Charlotte says.

Ingredients for the meatballs

500g minced pork and veal with about 10% fat; 300ml milk; 1.5 tsp salt; 60g flour; 1 egg, beaten; 100g onions (peeled weight), which you then grate or chop very finely; ¼ tsp black pepper; 15g of butter and 1 tbsp of oil for frying

Method for the meatballs

Mix the minced meat, flour, salt, pepper and onion thoroughly. Then add the milk and egg a little at a time. Mix it well, then leave the mixture in the fridge for half an hour to firm up.

Now shape the meat mixture into small balls – you can use a spoon to make them rounder. When they are all ready, start frying them in batches, first on a high heat to brown them and then on a lower heat so they can cook through. It takes about 5 minutes on each side.

For the new potatoes, boil or steam them skin on. The gravy can happily be instant which you can make according to the packet instructions, while the coleslaw is simply shredded red cabbage tossed in a bit of vinaigrette and salt.

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2 Responses to World Cup Cook-off: Nigeria and Denmark

  1. Frits says:

    South Africa is spoiling the worl cup for the rest of the world with the vuvuzela’s.
    People in the rest of the world don’t want to watch anymore because of the irritating noise.

    Is this what you want?

  2. globaltable says:

    The Vuvuzela is here to stay. Some people are for it, some are against. It has been a tradition in South African soccer for a very long time. I was at a game last Saturday, and I must admit I survived the sound of the vuvuzelas. I also had one. The people that couldn’t stand the noise just wore earplugs. So far it’s been a fantastic World Cup and the spirits are high!!

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