In the late 90s and early 20s, the green sauce what many call Nigerian designer stew became a household name and dish. Ayamase sauce, known by many, within and outside the shores of the country, Nigeria. The origin can be traced to a town called Ikenne.
Ikenne-Remo is a town located in Ogun State, southwestern region of Nigeria — the town is home to Mrs. Felicia, Aya Mase, who started the sauce to make ends meet as a rice seller.
Ikenne is home to a number of notable Nigerians and institution. Institution that has produced industry leaders and pioneers that keep bearing the torch of knowledge that illuminates light.
The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and wife, Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo (HID), hail from Ikenne, we also find one of the prestigious school, Mayflower School Ikenne founded in 1956, by the nationalist and educationist, Tai and Sheila Solarin, a school where today’s industry leaders and pioneers were made. Down town you find Our Saviours Anglican Church with its noticeable edifice which can be sighted when approaching the heart of the town and its massive bells dangling up in the sky used to call people to worship. Along this route you also, find the Ikenne Central Mosque where Muslim faithful gather to worship. The town of Ikenne is the home of the annual Èrekè festival, which brings sons and daughters of the soil home to celebrate and felicitate with the community on Ikenne Day.
Ikenne-Remo is the town where Ayamase Sauce originated. From a woman called, Mrs. Felicia Ajibabi Adesina, Aya Mase, (Wife of Mase). Hence, the name of the famous sauce Ayamase.
She was a rice seller who made this special, mouthwatering and beautiful green pepper sauce to sell with rice in a small corner of her home. Myths have it that Aya Mase made this special sauce for her lover, who isn’t Mr Mase, she wanted to cook something different and delicious to impress her lover, she sure did impress him and millions of other people, who would have thought? Not even Aya Mase would have!
The sauce became the talk of the town because of the distinct way she made it. The use of peppers in cooking has always been a thing but, the use of green peppers (unripe peppers) is what makes many wonder how such a beauty can be made out of unripe peppers.
In many parts of Ijebu, it is eaten with ofada rice also known as brown rice. Infact, some call it ofada stew or obe iru which all shows the length in which people love the sauce by giving it a name to suit their cravings.
Ayamase sauce has successfully won the hearts of many people around the world. In Nigerian parties, after Jollof Rice and Fried rice, Ofada rice with Ayamase sauce is a must on the menu. Similar to the Jollof wars, Ijebu and Egba people were in an ownership tussle for the Ayamase sauce because the history behind it was vague and just pointed that Ayamase originated from Ogun State. Alas! Ayamase is from Ikenne Remo, so that is a win for Ijebu. Her granddaughter, Adenrele Adesona, brought the story into limelight via a video that is still a work in progress.
HOW CAN AYAMASE SAUCE BE PREPARED?
Ayamase is a green pepper sauce, fried in bleached palm oil and cooked with fried offals, eggs and ponmo (cow skin).
To cook Ayamase sauce you’d be needing the following;
10 medium sized Green Bell peppers (Tatashe)
5 Green Scotch bonnets (Ata Rodo)
1 Large Onion
1 medium sized Ginger
A Clove of Garlic
3 cups of Bleached Palm oil
5 cups of fried Offals
2 cups of cooked Ponmo
3 Tablespoons Iru (Locust beans)
2 Tablespoons Blended crayfish
3 Seasoning cubes
Salt to taste
Meat stock (optional)
3 pieces of already cleaned and deboned Smoked fish
5 Boiled eggs (optional)
One of the specialities of Ayamase sauce is the use of bleached palm oil, to effectively bleach palm oil, check How To Bleach Palm Oil.
After bleaching the palm oil, the next step is to roast the peppers. This can be done by placing the peppers and half of the onion on a foil sheet or roasting tray then roast for 30 minutes at 200 degrees in the oven. Alternatively, you can blend the peppers then sieve out the excess water. Also blend the ginger and garlic into a paste.
Place a big pot on medium heat, add the bleached palm oil, after about 3 minutes, dice in the onions, add a pinch of salt to it then stir. After 2 minutes add the ginger and garlic paste, iru and blended crayfish, fry for 3 minutes then add the deboned smoked fish and stir.
Then add the blended green pepper, seasoning cubes and salt, stir and cover till the oil floats to the top. After the oil floats to the top, add the fried meats, ponmo and eggs. If the stew is too thick, you can add the meat stock to loosen the texture then leave to simmer for 5 minutes, enjoyyyy!
The Ayamase sauce has transcended history, it has Journeyed round the world from its ancestral home in Ikenne. The love it has received from other parts of the world have grown exponentially over the years they’ve indeed come to love and appreciate the wealth of knowledge passed on to many generations by the legendary recipe maker Mrs. Felicia Ajibabi Adesina, Aya Mase.
The legacy Mrs. Felicia, gave the entire universe is indescribable. It is such a unique one that will be for generations to come. Even right from the corners of her kitchen in Ikenne-Remo where the inspiration started to many other kitchens across the globe Ayamase sauce is and will continue to be celebrated.