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Nigerian Vegan Dish: Ratatouille
By Chioma Okwu

African food is impossible to define. The continent is so, so rich with hundreds – if not thousands – of different cultures and is bursting with a wide variety of veggies, fruits, and spices. Centuries of trade and the blight of colonialism have brought influences to the cuisine here, and today, globalization plays some role in food trends too. But one thing that all Africans could probably agree on is that meat normally plays a pretty big role in the meals of just about each country in Africa.

But that is changing. As the world wakes up to the benefits of a plant-based diet, there are more and more African chefs,  bloggers, Instagrammers, and foodies sharing vegan African recipes that are revised versions of their favorite dishes.

# Ratatouille (Nigerian interpretation) is a perfect example of these vegan dishes
Ratatouille may be a dish that originated in France but this recipe has some serious Nigerian infusions! The end result? A wonderful vegan dish nicely coated in a rich tomato sauce. It’s warm, it’s filling and it’s damn delicious!

Ingredients: (2 servings; 2 hours)

1 small, narrow sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced

1 plantain, thinly sliced

1-2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

For the red sauce:

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 red bell pepper

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

dried thyme

curry powder

salt to taste

How to make

1. Blanch the sweet potato slices in a pot of boiling hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside with the rest of your thinly sliced vegetables.

2. To make the red sauce, blend the tomatoes, red bell pepper, and garlic until you have a thick, chunky sauce consistency.

3. Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and add the red sauce, chopped red onion, tomato paste and a generous pinch of dried thyme and curry powder. Season to taste. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

4. Grab a small oven dish and spread about 3/4 of the red sauce over the base. Arrange the vegetable slices in an alternating and overlapping pattern all the way around the dish, working your way around the edge and into the center. Take the remaining red sauce and spoon that over the top of the vegetables.

5. Cut out greaseproof paper to match the shape and circumference of your oven dish and use it to cover the entire arrangement.

6. Bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 6, for 25 minutes until everything is cooked and tender. Peel off the greaseproof paper and bake for a further 5 minutes just to add some color to the top.

7. Serve on its own with sauce drizzled around the plate and extra thyme to garnish, or serve with a few slices of wholegrain bread.

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