My fascination with West African food started back in 2006, when I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Half of a Yellow Sun”, set pre- and during the Nigerian civil war, with her description of jollof rice and egusi stew. I was living in Singapore then, so I traipsed down to the African quarter of the city in Serangoon Road, chose a table at the busiest Nigerian food spot I found, ordered my food, and never looked back since: the jollof rice was a vibrant orange and tomato-ey, spiced with thyme & curry powder, savoury with the use of chicken fat & broth used to boil the rice. The egusi stew was nutty and tasty, different from other spiced concoctions in Singapore: Malay, Indian or Nyonya, but yet similar in some ways. I was hooked. In subsequent years, I’ll always try out Nigerian food wherever I come across one of its eateries, whether in Oakland, California, or in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - such is the spread of the Nigerian diaspora.
Ghanaian food, being also West African, is a variant upon Nigerian cuisine. So, I was pretty glad to come across the Spinach and Agushi Supper Club stall at Exmouth Market last Wed. It was 10 minutes before my lunch appointment at Quality Chop House, but then, it took me only 5 minutes to scarf down a plate of its jollof rice, topped with spinach & agushi stew, a rich, meaty chicken in groundnut stew and fried plaintains.
The spinach was cooked with crushed melon seeds, and flavoured with tomatoes and fresh mushrooms - agushi is the Ghanaian variant of Nigerian egusi, but every much as tasty here.
The jollof rice was moist in itself, but made tastier when smothered with the rich, creamy chicken groundnut stew. The hot sauce, probably spiked with Scotch bonnet, provided a jolt to our palate.
The fried plantains provide a brassy sourness which undercuts the richness of the meat and vegetable stews. I would have liked to try other stuff there, but would need to do that on another trip.
Spinach and Agushi Exmouth is located at the end of Exmouth Market near the junction with Farringdon Road (in front of The Grains). It’s opened 11.30am till about 2.30pm on weekdays.