Traditional Nigerian (Yoruba) Cooking Part IV – The Sauce–Obe Ata

Now we’re getting somewhere!

The Stew, or Obe Ata is the backbone of this meal. You could skip the Okra if you really needed to (and I can’t imagine why you’d want to), but you definitely can’t skip the Stew. The stew is where all gorgeous the flavor is concentrated.

Obe Ata  literally means Pepper Soup or Pepper Stew. However, Obe Ata is heavily tomato based. It is definitely NOT like spaghetti sauce, tomato soup or anything else that’s heavily tomato based. It has a more complex flavor due to the slow cooking and the inclusion of the broth from the meat prep.

Here’s a little chemistry lesson: Cooking tomato sauce with protein neutralizes the acids and lends it a mellow flavor. In return, the acids further tenderize the meats. It’s a win-win.

You’re welcome

So, here’s what you need for the stew:



4 medium Tomatoes cut up
1 6oz can tomato paste
1 sweet red pepper (not pictured) cut up
1 medium onion cut up
1 habanero pepper, cut up, seeds discarded (or 1 teaspon pepper flakes)
***habanero is of THE hottest peppers, so handle with care.***
1 Tbsp palm oil
1 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil.



1. Cut up and place all ingredients except the oils in a blender. Blend to a fine puree. Blend in 2 batches if needed. Set aside.


2. Add the oils and the pureed tomato mixture to the chicken broth from the meat prep.

Bring to a rolling boil, then turn down and simmer on low heat.


3. Continue to simmer until the stew has thickened a bit (approximately 30 minutes). Taste and add a little more salt you’d like.

4. Once the sauce has thickened a bit, it’s time to add the meats that have been dried in the oven.


5. Cook for another 5-10 minutes to allow the meats to soak up the stew.  Set aside until ready to serve.


Making the stew is the bulk of the work for this mean. Luckily once it’s made the stew can be kept in the fridge up to 1 week after cooking, and used for several meals. To reheat, I suggest scooping out what will be used for one meal, in order not to further break down the meats.

So now the stew is done, it’s time to make the Okra Stew!

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Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Ingredients/Shopping List
Part 3: Prepping the meats
Part 4: Making the Stew/Obe Ata
Part 5: Okra Stew!
Part 6: The Pounded Yam (Iyan)
Part 7: Putting it all together/Conclusion

4 thoughts on “Traditional Nigerian (Yoruba) Cooking Part IV – The Sauce–Obe Ata

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