Saturday, September 10, 2016


One of the things I dreaded the most about being a married woman in my culture was how on earth I was going to handle the stress of 'sallah meat' alone.
'Don't be ridiculous, of course I'll help you,' says the then fiancé. But like the wise woman I pretend to be, I knew all promises made before 'I do' should be taken with a grain of salt.
See I come from a relatively populous family, so aikin naman sallah was quite the task! When we return from eid prayer, everyone changes into their 'work clothes' (old t shirts, torn pyjama pants etc. anything you wont mind getting bloodied).
Then the work begins! Axe wielding, meat slicing, manning the fire etc. And before you know it, everyone is in a shitty mood because isn't this supposed to be a day of celebration?
If this aikin nama was so difficult when we were plenty, imagine how hard it'll be when its just me in my home!
For the first few years I got a cheat pass; we'd slaughter our Ram in Kano and take it to the professionals who in turn will do all the dirty work for us and deliver our Dambu. Fried meat and kayan ciki (offals).
While that is the most convenient option, we often felt like we were missing out on all the Sallah memories; the smell of fried meat filling the house etc.
So like the idiot that I am, I decided in 2014, just 5 months after giving birth to Baby R that this year, I'll do it myself.
'Are you sure?' he asks, partly worried about my stress levels and partly about the quality of his sallah meat.
'I can.'
And so I did. With no nanny. Just a local butcher and my cousin (the husband was glued on discovery channel).
  1. Why are you doing this? Have you gone nuts! Abeg just pay someone and chill on Sallah day......... ......... .........(I'm kidding! I'm just trying to chase away the faint hearted ones. If you've survived my lame scare tactic then carry on, you trooper!)
  2. Clear out your freezer. You need space. Lots of it.
  3. Prepare your mind that this is going to be a Physically and Mentally tasking activity that may leave you tired and exhausted halfway through. If this is the case, you can always split your work into two and continue the day after.
Say hello to your Ram
We start by mapping out what I'm going to do with the lamb.        
Original photo from Mortons. I annotated it to show you what I do with what. The basic portions I want are for Frying Peppersoup Rack of Ribs Roast Steak Dambi BBQ. Only Frying and Dambu happen on sallah day. The rest of the meat is saved got later in the freezer
I usually have 4 stations
THE STORAGE STATION: Counter Tops and Freezer
The husband slaughters the Ram as per tradition.
The Ram is allowed to bleed out for a while as the butcher and his assistant (usually my gateman) sharpen their knives and prepare the area for butchering.
We have a drain in the back yard so we spread some zinc roofing sheets on the floor and cover them with empty rice sacks. That's the "chopping board."
The water hose from the garden is moved to the back. I make sure the tanks are full because we need lots and lots of water.
Most of the cutting takes place downstairs in the backyard.
As soon as meat is ready, its brought upstairs in batches to the Prep station.
BATCH A. The Offals. (Kayan ciki, soye)
This is usually the first body part to be cleaned and washed (minus intestines). 
We wash them again thoroughly with salt and water.
I separate my offals into three. I give away anything icky (heart, genitalia, intestines etc), I keep these:
I split them into two. We fry one batch and freeze the other half in serving sized bags for making pepper soup or assorted meat stew later.


Then transfer into a kasko (local frying pan thats like a giant wok)

I add chopped garlic, ginger, scotch bonnet peppers and sliced onions. To cook them tender, I add some fat from the ram (visceral fat from the abdomen). It will also help the meat to fry with little or no oil. I'm very generous with the spices I add to my kayan ciki.
Meat Tenderizer speeds up the cooking time. Alternatively you can use kanwa (potash)
Maggi stock cubes. Because, Nigerian.

Herbage is important. Hello Rosemary (optional)
Thyme, compulsory! Removes the gamey odour from offals 
 Add a cup of water to start up the cooking process. The offals themselves will start to release water from within.
 I also add curry powder
Here the offals are releasing their own liquid. Make sure you keep an eye on the wok. We want to make sure the water doesn't dry out until the offals are cooked and tender. If your heat is too high, the water will start to dry out. Here you can add a cupful at a time if necessary.
 Taste and adjust the seasoning as cooking progresses. You can see I added more peppers here.
The tripe (shaki, tumbi) is usually the toughest to cook, so if you notice that the tripe is stringy and tender, it means your offals are cooked. This will take up to 2 hours Allow the water to start drying off.
When the water is dry, the offals will start releasing their own oils. This, together with the fat you added earlier will fry the offals. 
If your offals are sticking to your pan, add some vegetable oil (a ladle at a time)
You have to stir fry at this point until the oil is fully released and you can let it fry.
Be careful because offals burn easily.
After you've strained the offals from the oil, place the offals on a paper towel or newspaper to absorb all the excess fat. 
Thats it! The Offals are the first meat served on Sallah day.         BATCH B: FRIED MEAT Things get easier from here.
I wash the meat thoroughly as it it arrives in the prep area.
I separate it into fleshy flesh and boney meat.
The boney meat gets divided into two. Half will be fried on sallah day
The other half will be put in serving sized portion freezer bags and stored in the freezer for pepper soup, and other soups. LET THE FRYING BEGIN! The oil remains in the pan.

Then your meat on the bone goes into the oil, along with the other spices (thyme, rosemary, maggi, cloves, curry powder etc).
The meat will cook and then fry and get strained first with a colander, then paper towels and newspapers. It'll absorb all the fat out leaving you with delicious sallah meat.
 PRO TIP. You can always boil your meat with all its spices in a separate stockpot before proceeding to fry it in the kasko. This will make the meat fry quicker, but requires more work. That's the method I'm using this year. So you'll fry the meat with all the spices first then transfer to your frying oil. This gives a crispier meat that doesn't need to be stored in the fridge. 
Repeat with as many batches of meat you want to fry. The oil will be reused over and over again until you're done.
At the end of the day you'll be left with fat in the pan which solidifies at room temperature. This is referred to as kakidi. Traditionally used as butter on bread and thanks to all the chilli and spices you added, its quite tasty too. I give it away to my helpers to use, because merely looking at it makes me a little queasy. Hello cholesterol.
To clean pout your pan heat it a little then transfer to another container.
SIDE DISHES I usually make an easy rice dish to go with all the meatiness. Last year it was a large pot of Jollof Rice.
I make enough rice because after spending at least 8 hours in the kitchen on the first day, I'm in no mood to cook.
I also make a salad and I package food for my family and neighbours in baskets for delivery. 
I also make dessert on day two. Maybe Apple pie or a nice tart.
This post is way too long and I still haven't spoken about dambu
Useful Tips
Book your helpers in advance. If you have a suya man in your neighbourhood ask him to send you one of his boys. Labour is quite cheap with them. 2k to 5k naira for a days work plus any extras (head, legs, intestines etc).
Have lots of basins and plastic tubs on hand for washing and transporting from station to station. 


  1. I had no idea it was this stressful! I love the smell and taste of fried ram meat and I look forward to eating some soon and that means I'll need a separate budget for ram killers and cleaners. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hello!

      Thanks for dropping by :)

      Yeah it's quite a bit of work, but so worth it in the end.

      Yes, It's wise to put some money aside for helpers. Some would do the work for free as long as they get some meat for their families. The head and legs makes amazing traditional pepper soup, so I usually give it to my helpers for their families along with the portion of meat I'm giving to charity.

      I'll be checking out your blog when I get a minute. Enjoy the Sallah weekend.

  2. Wow! This is really a simple and understandable step by step guide, jazakallahu khairan

    1. Amin, Thanks for dropping by and for the compliments :D

  3. Wow! This is really a simple and understandable step by step guide, jazakallahu khairan

    1. Thanks NAzeerah! You're awesome! Have a great week.

  4. hi ummi, you have no idea how helpful this post is to me. i am getting married soon and i have no clue on what to do with a dead ram...frankly i'm secretly terrified of handling bloody meat. thank you so much for this post and all your life saving recipes. may Allah bless you in return. speaking of marriage, i believe you promised us a "how to plan a hausa muslim wedding". i could really use that now more than ever. once again, thank you for representing us northern girls and did i mention i'm totally obsessed with anisa haque ?!! don't get me started on that. Peace to you and your family.

    1. Awwww, Naima, Il so glad you found it helpful. I really wasn't thinking when I took the photos, but when I realised I could do I guide I just had to. Even if it helps just one person then I'm satisfied.

      Oh yeah, about the wedding planning posts. I had started writing them a while back before my macbook crashed and I lost everything! Including wedding photos!!! Its so sad.... but I'll try to write a simple guide when/if I get the chance.

      Congratulations on you impending marriage. Dont be scared of bloody meat, its not so bad!

      Anisa HAque, hehehe! don't you just love her?

      I really enjoyed your comment, please drop by again soon :) :) xoxo

  5. Woow!! Ummi u r the real MVP! Why am i not your neighbour na? This post is quite enlightening, i never knew how much work goes into making sallah meat, i just happily munch away when my neighbours bring for us. Now i know i'm even more grateful. I'm sure ur post will also help a lot of newly married ladies dreading the task. I was soo worried about how to manage christmas cooking and sharing of food to my neighbours when i 1st got married.
    You wrote 'salad' day, i'm sure it was a mistake but u may want to correct it for those who may get confused.
    Eid Mubarak in arrears!

    1. Tossing dear, Thank you so much! Hehe, the neighbour thing can be arranged ;) My dear, its a lot of work o! This is the simplified version. The real version has a lot more work than this. This year I did all that up there plus dambun nama and slow grilled lamb. it was not easy! but its part of the "experience" i guess.

      Yeah! It's so similar to christmas cooking for the neighbours. these tips can apply to anyone with a whole meat/goat/

      Dont mind autocorrect. I was in such a hurry to get it done before salad.

      Eid Mubarak to you too! I trust you used that awesome long weekend to great use. Expecting a "fun in Abuja post soon :) xoxo

  6. Dearest ummi you really did a wonderful job with this post .i will wait for your post on dambu .i tried it this sallah well it did not turn out well.

    1. Ayush dear, thank you so much!

      In fact, the dambu pictures are ready, just for me to write and arrange them is taking centuries! I'll get around to it soon inshaAllah.

      Don't mind Dambu, its so easy to get it wrong sometimes. On my first attempt I burnt a whole big batch! It just requires love and TLC cos its so easy to screw it up. Will post it soon though.

      Hope you've been great xoxo.

  7. Dearest ummi you really did a wonderful job with this post .i will wait for your post on dambu .i tried it this sallah well it did not turn out well.

  8. Wow - Thanks for this guide. I have bookmarked it for future reference

    1. You're welcome OFadaa! Just checked out your site and I love it!