Six years after I returned to Lagos, I am still relearning to be a Lagosian, and oftentimes, I find an excuse to check out of the city even if for a few days.
Hello everybody, I am writing to you from the ancient city of Ibadan where hot and soft Amala lives and reigns supreme.
Some Lagosians will say we have Amala in Lagos and I will feel a strong need to be violent.
All ye fans of 100 hours Amala at Awolowo Road; Stans of Olaiya Amala at Akerele; Loyalists of White House Amala at Yaba; Habitues of University of Amala at Idimu; Privileged attendees of T-Pot Amala at Town Planning; Sophisticated Patrons of Balawa Amala at Gbagada, have you ever tried Amala in Ibadan?
If your answer is No, please punch yourself in the face and try to remedy that.
Ibadan, on a good day without traffic is about a two-hour drive away from Lagos. If you are fidgety about being alone, engage the company of a tech-savvy foodie and document a good time. Book a hotel (a budget of 5K per night will install you in a roach-infested brothel room in Lagos but you will be in fairly decent company in Ibadan). Put Q-dot’s Ibadan on repeat and prepare your palate for a good time.
Amala is one of the highlights of Yoruba food. That consistency amongst swallows is unrivalled. Soft, drawy and hot, it hardly calls attention to itself.
The Ewedu and Gbegiri mixture is something I came late to so I will not begrudge anyone who sees the bean soup, Gbegiri, as problematic. My counsel: try it in small quantities.
The best part of the soup-stew complex to which Amala must be subjected is the stew.
The stew is a radical invention of the Yoruba which, when delicately made with the right amount of condiments, is a beauty to behold. The most exciting part of the stew, of course, is the accompanying protein, meat of different varieties immersed in soup, soaking up sauce.
At Bodija alone, options include Ose Olohun restaurant (better known as Skyelolo, because it is beside Skye bank) and Oju-Irin which offers ample description because it is beside the railway. These two Amala joints appeal to different clienteles and even though they offer a variety of other meals on their menu, their specialty is Amala.
Skyelolo’s Amala is usually soft and light in comparison to Oju-Irin’s which is heavier in character. Both have decent stew but while Oju-Irin has a hot stew, Skye has a matchless stew with tenderized meat.
You must wonder why I have such fine appreciation for Amala. I have my tech-savvy foodie who knows how to make me bring her to her happy place of Ibadan for her fix of Amala.
I have tried to convince her about Mama Ope’s Amala, Thuraya’s Amala, Ina Straight’s Amala amongst other Amala but she has been bewitched by Skyelolo Amala.
You may or may not know her. But the next time you see a lady grinning from teeth to teeth, holding her aluminum bowl out, quizzing the women dishing for more ewedu and stew, you will find me too, resigned to the fate of Ose Olohun’s Amala.