Saturday, July 27, 2019

Two Years Later...

'Ummi When are you updating your blog?'

I looked up from my large bowl of homemade Ramen Noodles and for a second I was blank.

'I have a blog?' I thought out loud. 'Of course, my blog! I get super busy and totally forget to update.'

'Well, I enjoyed it when you used to post regularly. Nobody blogs anymore.'

'Well, yeah. Okay. I'll tell you what: For every month I forget to put up a post, you'll get a 5% discount off an Ummi's Gourmet Food Lunch, how does that sound?'


I watched her celebrate her lunch coupon as my mind wanders to the real issue on ground: Set up a new piggy bank to fund lapses in blogging consistency. I'm one step ahead of her!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sons of the Caliphate || TV Review

Last year, my favourite Nigerian Channel, Ebony Life TV aired a thirteen part drama series called Sons of the Caliphate which according to them;

'Sons of the Caliphate' is a drama series based on the lives of three rich, entitled, passionate and ambitious young men, Kalifah, Nuhu and Diko, all caught up in the hidden corners of power, the darkness of addiction, the heat of love and desire, the obligations of family loyalty, and the craving for revenge.

The show looked into the lives and relationships of Kalifah, Nuhu and Dikko who are "Abuja Big Boys" originally from a fictional state of Kowa. It covers many challenges faced by privileged Nigerian youth; family pressure, drug addiction, keeping up appearance, political greed and so much more. The show features strong men and even stronger women working their way through various states of emotional instability.

First Impressions

Right from the trailer I knew regardless of the storyline, I was going to be following this show. It gave the impression of a well thought out modern look into the lives of Northern Nigerians, who I feel are greatly misrepresented in mainstream Nigerian media.

The Cast

Rahma Sadau, who plays the female lead (Binta Kutigi) is a superstar in the Hausa Movie industry with an insanely HUGE international fanbase! Casting her as a lead is a great way to draw in the young arewa audience for sure. She also had a little 'scandal' going on right before the launch of the show, so there was a lot of press about her and many tuned in to watch her new product as a form of solidarity.

Yakubu Muhammad, another Hausa movie star did a great job playing Dikko Loko! I must confess, whenever I click on a Hausa channel and see Yakubu Muhammad I change the channel sharply! I'm a fan of his singing (romantic songs of the 90s and 2000s) but not his acting! So I wasn't expecting much from him. Surprisingly, he portrayed the part of a cunning, conniving, scheming snake quite well. He should switch to acting in English and not Hausa.

A post shared by Yakubu Mohammed (@yakubu_mohd) on

Rabi'u Rikadawa is another Hausa movie veteran. Me and Mr.H's favourite Hausa actor! He is so versatile and his timing when it comes to comedy and sarcasm is impeccable! He plays a small role of a party chairman in SOTC.

Mofe Duncan also did a good job playing Nuhu.

If I were to be nitpicky, I'd say the one thing that bothered me were the accents! Some of the cast members tried a little too hard to fake Hausa accents *cough Patrick Doyle cough* and it felt quite forced and times, difficult to understand.

Given the profile of the characters, its unnecessary to force Hausa accents. Abuja big boys that have spent a large chunk of their lives in England do not have strong Hausa accents #fact. They're more likely to have English accents or a normal Nigerian accent.

The casting was quite well done, I must say! Apart from the little thing with the accents, everyone interpreted their roles wonderfully. My other favourites were Lottie (Yvonne Hays), Ziha (Nita Byack George), The Galadima (Ziha's Dad) and Suleiman (Khalifa's annoying brother quite well).

The Fashion!

The styling was on point. I liked Dikko, Nuhu and Binta's style the most.

Here are a few of my favourite looks.

Quick question: is Binta allergic to sleeves? Hehe. Most of her looks are either sleeveless or sheer. I don't blame her though, I'd never wear sleeves too if my arms were that toned.

Loved this two toned blue and black maxi dress!

And this burgundy satin and black chiffon dress.

Nuhu's caps are great, I wish he'll bend them in a little bit. In fact, they used some really beautifully women zanna caps on this show! Its these kind of details that makes the fashion authentic.

 Dikko's  short sleeved casual kaftans are so nice, I took screenshots to make some for the husband.

I did find some costumes to be a little "type casted" (Ziha and her turbans, evil queen and her dreary clothes, Khalifa and his tazarces) but it all adds to the background of the person. i.e. Ziha is the daughter of a Galadima, therefore royalty so that explains her bejeweled kaftans and turbans.

To make Khalifa even more like a prince, perhaps they should dress him up in some zabuni (hand embroidered clothes worn by royalty) They are widely available in Zaria, Kano Katsina etc.

Ziha's look: Bejeweled Kaftans and two layered turbans

Here are a few of my favourite looks.

The Location

Okay, someone did their home work!

How on earth are there so many beautiful locations in Abuja? Lottie's first apartment was to die for. I liked the classic look of Khalifa and Ziha's house too.

The location scout did an awesome job portraying modern Abuja living spaces.

The Production

Now I'm no filmmaker, so I may not be the best person to comment on this, but from a viewers perspective, SOTC was very well made! This is an area where Ebony Life beats all other Nigerian Networks. They don't play with the quality of their productions. SOTC was well in line with other productions from Ebony Life TV. It captures the visual richness of Arewa culture splendidly. It's quite pleasant to watch.

The Story Line

Despite ending on a cliff hanger that really irked a lot of fans (me, included), the plot and storyline is actually quite rich. The story has several layers and each character is multidimensional making them human and relatable. Besides, the writer went on twitter to reassure us that there'll be a second season, which cooled us down a little bit. Judging by the photos the actors have been posting on instagram, it seems filming has already began, so yay!

I found the story a little slow in the beginning, especially with all those political meetings. They took up a lot of time! But I understand that the creators may have been targeting both male and female audiences, so they had to man it up a bit. No qualms.

Then towards the end the story stared moving so fast, and before you know it, two of our favourite characters had bitten the dust.

Cultural Representation

While SOTC does a good job portraying Arewa culture to a Nigerian and international audience, there are a few minor details that will make an Arewa insider like me cringe a teeny little bit. Of course I understand from a production point of view, some details need to be overlooked. However, just for nerdy fun, let me point some cultural discrepancies out.

1. The word caliphate is catchy for a show title, but what we were shown on TV was more of an emirate. Let me explain: In Northern Nigeria, there are several emirates sprawled across the region. Initially, these emirates were run by the Ruling Hausa family, descendants of Bayajidda. But after the Fulani Jihad of the 1800s, many of these Hausa rulers were replaced by Fulani rulers, with a central Emir being the head of this council of emirs (The sultan of Sokoto). So in Nigeria, a caliphate refers to a collection of emirates with a sultan at the head. Because of the size of Maiyaki's caliphate on SOTC, Kowa Caliphate looked more like an Emirate. Nitpicky, I know but hey! Only ITKs like me will know the difference.

2. The line of succession in does not automatically go to the first son of an emir. In fact, the reason why we have kingmakers on the emirate council is to choose the most suitable heir out of all the eligible men of royal lineage. For example, I'm from Daura which is the origin of all the Hausa Kingdoms and the criteria for selection is to be a son or grandson of a past emir. Meaning when its time to choose a successor, every living son and grandson of an emir both past and present are eligible to be chosen. A list is made and one by one, candidates are eliminated based on an extensive criteria (e.g. level of education, exposure etc). The past emir of Daura (Sarki Bashar) took over from his Granddad and the current one took over from his brother.

3. You cannot choose a successor while the emir is alive. This is actually an abomination. If an emir were to give up the throne to someone else, he has to be exiled from the emirate (self imposed or forced, he just cannot live there). If the emir is sick and wants a break, the throne can only be held temporarily and the holder has to be the Magajin gari, who sits on the emirate council or someone specially chosen by the kingmakers and if the emir dies while the temp is on the throne, a new selection has to take place from scratch using the criteria I mentioned above.

4. THE QUEEN!!! Omigosh, she was my least favourite character not just because of the story but her portrayal is so far off from how a queen of an emirate or caliphate is in real life.

  • Her Fashion! They did not try for the queen at all o! Please come to our fada and see how matar sarki dresses. They tried to give her an alkyabba towards the end, but alkyabbas are usually kept for outdoor ceremonial activities.
  • There is no way the queen and Waziri can meet secretly outdoors. The way our palaces are planned, it's not possible for a queen to have this kind of privacy without her servants and handmaidens and dogarai around. More realistically, she would summon him to her court and send everyone out. 
  • She also won't lift heavy items, bring water to the emir with her own hands in public and she definitely won't be there while the palace is being swept, telling the servants to clean properly. Queens are quite regal and over pampered, this one felt a little too Jaguda, which kind of fits her evil role.

5. There is no way a female servant will clean a prince's bedroom! Especially while he is still in it. A prince will have a host of male cleaners and attendants. Unless he is married, there is a line where females will not cross.

There really is no secrecy in the Royal court. Even if you bypass the palace guards and attendants, nothing will stay hidden from the servants unless they are specifically asked to give privacy.

Please don't get me wrong, this cultural analysis doesn't remove anything from the show at all! Just a few observations I've made and how in MY CULTURE, we do it a little differently.

That's it!

Final Thoughts

Personally I would say SOTC is the best regional drama I have seen come out of Nigeria in a really long time! Well done to the Creators, Writers and Producers. It is so obvious that a lot of work went into this show and I am so thankful for that. 

I have the complete season recorded on my DVR and I don't think I'll be deleting it anytime soon! Whenever I have guests looking for something to watch I find my self scrolling down to SOTC even though it ended months ago!

All in All, I'll give them a resounding 


Can't wait for season 2!

So did you watch the original run of SOTC?

Who is your favourite? 

Are you looking forward to the next season?

Let me know in the comments below!

xo xo 


Disclaimer: The photos used in this blog post are not mine. They are either screen shots from Ebony Life TV's Youtube page or Promo photos from Ebony Life Tv's website.

Yes, I actually paused and took screenshots from the trailers... I'm that nerdy!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Best Homemade Potato Chips Ever! || No More Soggy Crisps || The Ultimate Chip Guide

If you have ever attempted making potato chips youll know that it is one of the easiest fried foods to get wrong. 

One mis-step could ruin the entire mission. 

The wrong cut?

The wrong process?

The wrong oil?

Even the wrong kinda potato!

There are many reasons why you should just say screw it and buy a bag of chips, but one reason why you should not:

No store bought chips will taste as good as homemade! 

Luckily you have me to help you with this easy to follow pictorial guide showing


I perfected this recipe during my university days and I haven't looked back. 

I made this particular batch on a weekday afternoon for a beloved guest and would you believe me if I tell you it took me only about 20 minutes?

The most difficult part is peeling the potatoes. 


Let's begin!

Here's what you need:

About 10 medium sized potatoes (peeled) make sure theyre similar in size. 
A kettle of hot boiling water (1.5L)
Oil to deep fry
Any Seasoning of your choice.

Thats it!

CRUCIAL STEP #1 - Slicing

Slice the potatoes into thin vertical slices.

Unless youve got Iron chef level precision, don't use a knife!

Its impossible to get equal thickness with a knife. 

Use a madoline slicer (V slicer), like I have up there.

Haven't got one? You can use the side of a grater or even a potato peeler, though the chips might be too thin.

I used the thinnest attachment on my mandoline which gave me chips with 1 - 1.5mm thickness.

Transfer the slices into a large bowl.

Pour the kettle of boiling water over the slices and make sure the chips are completely submerged

Use all the water!

Use a slotted spoon to swirl the water carefully, making sure the slices are not clumped together.

We want every part of every chip to be exposed to the hot water

After abot 10 minutes or when the water gets cool enough for your hands, strain it out with a colander

You'll notice instantly that the water is a little thick and sticky. 

That's the potato starch. Removing the starch yields a crispy batch of chips with no sogginess at all!

Rinse the chips under a running tap.

Go in with your hands to separate the slices and ensure there is absolutely no stickiness left on the chips. 

Then inspect the slices

Notice any difference between these chips?

Of course, you do! You're a smart cook!

The chip on the left looks thicker and opaque while the right looks thin and translucent.


The left is fresh cut chips while the right is after the hot water bath.

At this point, you want all your chips to look like the right, which they should if you soaked them correctly.

If you fry your chips fresh cut, the starch will be released and you will have very soggy and oily chips.

Starch levels vary between species of potatoes, so some might need less time while other might need more time in the water bath

 Just make sure you don't leave them in hot water for too long or elSe they'll break apart.

Leave the chips in a colander for the water to drain before frying.

If youre in a hurry (as I was), you can spread out ppaper towels

And lay out the chips one by one to absorb all the excess moisture.

Use another paper towel to dab off the top surfaces and youre ready to fry.

Heat your oil pan on high heat then return to medium for frying

Use fresh oil or newish oil that has only been used for potatoes. Fresh is better.

Test the oil. Its ready when a chip dropped in spreads flat open immediately. 

That up there isn't.

Proceed to place your chips into the oil making sure the pan isnt overcrowded and chips don't overlap 

Turn constantly, making sure all the faces of the chips spend time in the oil.

Almost done.

You'll notice the chips beginning to curl around the edges when they're almost done.

Keep checking constantly and returning them if necessary.

The chips are done when the oil stops releasing air bubbles.

It takes about 3-5 minutes to fry each batch and you have to make sure the oil is hot enough before starting another batch. 

Check out this photo below...

See the side of this chip looks curled and crisp , but the middle part? You can see its still translucent and bendy.

My hands also look oily, right?

This chip is not ready. 

A cooked chip cannot hold onto oil like this, even when its freshly out of oil.

It needs another minute or two in the hot oil.

Your chip is cooked when it is golden brown and opaque from the edge to the middle

Like this!

Oh my goodness! This is what love is.



Golden brown.

Leave the chips to drain and cool off on a paper lined tray or airy basket.

Airy is the keyword.

As the chip cools it gets crispier and crispier.

Use this time to make your seasoning.

In a small mortar, I combined:

Onion powder
Garlic powder
1/2 a maggi cube

And pulverized them even more to make a very fine powder.

The finer the powder, the more flavour clings on to the chips.

Here's what I ended up with. 

I sprinkled it onto the chips a little at a time.

A little goes a long way and I ended up using less than half of the spice mix.

That's it! You're done!

I served mine as a side to go with Jamaican jerk kebabs and pickles.

My guest loved it very very much and when she asked 'Where did you buy these chips from? They're amazing!'

I couldn't hep but feel proud of my little old self for coming up with this last minute treat.

These would go amazing with a nice cream cheese dip, salsa, gucamole or even sweet chilli. The possibilities are endless. 

I gave half to our guest, ate a handful, gave baby R another handful and kept the rest for the husband. 

Can you believe this little angel after finishing her portion went and fished out her dad's portion from where I hid it and finished his too! 

All he got were broken chips and crumbs to taste and when she saw the crumbs she went after them too. 

Even after licking the plate she followed me to the kitchen asking for more!

Can't say I blame her, these chips are absolutely delish!

Give them a try and let me know how it goes.

Trust me, you'll never look at store bought chips the same way again.

That's it guys!

Did you enjoy this recipe?

Do you also make your own chips?

Ever had trouble frying your own chips?

Let me know in the comments below!

Take care!

Lots of crispy love,


x o x o