Cafe Abuja Is Bringing Traditional Nigerian Food to Houston — Cooking in America


– I’m here in a Nigerian store and it’s like a whole section of palm oil. That’s that fufu right here. Fufu is a staple food that’s
accompanied with Nigerian food, and it’s kind of like poi in Hawaiian, so I’m excited to see that. Oh, Milo. Ah, making me feel like home already. Do you guys drink Milo? That’s like straight up
Filipino breakfast right there. So there’s only two types
of domesticated rice in this world: Asian style being one, and then West African being the other. Oh my god, I love cow skin. There’s a huge population of
Nigerians here in Houston. When they come into Cafe
Abuja they have that moment of just, feeling of home. (intense drum music) – We stepped away from
just a brand, African. – Africa is huge, right? It’s a continent.
– Yeah, Africa’s a continent, – So we just wanted
people to know that, yes, this is an African restaurant,
but it’s a Nigerian cuisine. And we didn’t want to take away from the traditional ingredients,
so, you know, be ready. His background was Nigerian, I’m American, I’m from, you know, St. Louis.
– Alright. We opened it from a customer perspective. What are all the other
restaurants missing? Really, Cafe Abuja’s not
just here for Nigerians, we’re here for the whole community. – We’ve had different cultures
come in to try the food, and they’re eating it the traditional way, with their hands. – [Sheldon] So, this is the egusi.
– The egusi. – [Rasak] We start by
blending the peppers. Now this is palm oil, this one
one comes from West Africa. And then this is like
shrimp, it’s called crayfish, it’s used in many, all
West African dishes. – [Sheldon] Dried fish. – In Nigeria, when they cut
up an animal, they cube it. We use the cow foot of the
tripe, the lining of the stomach, the shakis, nothing goes to waste. – That’s my jam right here. In Filipino, we call this bendongo. – [Tiffaney] Egusi is a melon
seed that’s in a powder form. – So the soup is gonna thicken when this is added in. And then this is to eat alongside. – The egusi. – [Rasak] This is used in
Nigeria to make pounded yam. – We have this thing in
Hawaii where we take a taro, steam it off or we boil it, peel it, and then we mash it. – That’s right, that’s how
you make the pounded yam. – Because of all the time and
energy put into making this, it’s maybe during weddings, new year, yes, celebration.
– Oh it’s for celebration. If your son hasn’t been
home for a really long time and your mom’s like, you know what, I’m gonna make you pounded yam. So it’s a really special dish. – Western worlds, they find a way to make this pounded
yam in a powdery form. You wash your hands. – You roll it in your hands,
a lotta times they’ll roll it. – Roll your hands. – Yeah, that’s right. – You just pick it up like this. – That’s how it goes,
really nice, delicious. – Oh man, got that spice. – We are two miles away
from the Energy Corridor. There’s a lot of professionals that work in the oil and gas industry. – Okay. – They have a lot of professionals that are nurses and doctors that are here,
– Exactly. like second-generation Nigerians. – Some of them have never been to Nigeria, but have had Nigerian food growing up because their parents cook it for them. When we opened, this was a
spot that they could come to and feel at home. Whether you’re from Nigeria,
we’re welcoming all cultures. – So in here we have
the peppers, habanero. – [Tiffaney] Tomatoes, we blend it with garlic, onions, chicken bullion. – [Sheldon] Then we add
a rich goat stock to it. – Garnish it with vegetable,
which is spinach and tripe. In our stew, we have goat,
we have cow foot, shaki, and then we also have the tilapia. – So the three major tribes
are represented here. We don’t have one person
doing all the cooking, we have sort of like contractors of different regions of the country. Like if you are Ibo,
you cook Ibo food here. – How’s Ibo food? – No Ibo food, Isi Ewu, goat head stew. – Okay. – One day I’m gonna give
you that, I just loved it. Goat head is made with brains
of the goat and everything. (laughing)
– Oh man. – No, goat head stew because
there’s all that collagen that’s in the cheeks.
– Everything. And the creaminess
– Yes, nothing goes to waste. of the brain.
– Goat head stew, – That’s an Ibo food. If you come from Yoruba,
you cook Yoruba food. We have Hausa food, which
is the northern food too. – Yes. You walk into this place,
whether you were born in America or you came from the boat, you know you’ll be taken care of. – Tell me about growing
up in Nigeria first. – When I was in Nigeria,
nobody bought anything unless it said made in USA. – Who knew, all the way
in Nigeria, American made, (laughing)
– Yes. – It means they see USA
as one golden place, whatever they see from the
movie and everything so, it’s a place that if
you play by the rules, if you work hard, you can
go all the way to the top, and that’s what we’ve experienced here. But when we first started,
we didn’t have much money. You gotta take some risk, you don’t know how it’s gonna turn out. – We depended on the word of mouth. You know, new business,
– Mhmm. start up, I had to leave
my job to come here and I’m glad I made that choice. – It’s a blessing to this community, whether they’re working
overnight shifts as a nurse or studying hard on their exams,
what these restaurants are is a safe hub where people can recognize and have a feeling of home. In Hawaii, we say mahalo. – Thank you. – E se. – [All] E se. – Yeah, that’s in the Yoruba. (laughing)
– Alright. – This is the secret chicken
sauce, it’s called pupu sauce. It’s like a sweet ginger soy sauce, almost.
– Okay.

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