About Toyin's kitchen
Obe-Ata is a tomato based cooking sauce that originates from Nigeria. Almost all Nigerian dishes use Obe-Ata at the base of the cooking. Examples are Jollof rice, Efo soup, Egusi soup, Moin Moin, Ewa, Palm oil stew so much much more.
I have always loved cooking and my Mother is an AMAZING cook. She knows good quality food which I learnt this from my wonderful Mother. Coming from a big family, cooking and eating together was a big part of my childhood. My mother always made sure she cooked good fresh food from scratch.
We didn’t know anything about processed foods. We ate well.
When I found myself a single Mother with twins I didn’t know what to do. I could not afford to put the twins in nursery whilst I went back to work. I soon found myself becoming a stay at home Mother.
One Sunday I went to church and I sat at the back crying thinking how was I going to provide for my children. They were barely crawling at this stage. How would I be able to provide for them? In the service that Sunday I remember the preacher saying that God will bless you out of what you have not out of what you don’t have. ‘Think’ he said what do YOU have?
I knew immediately my answer. I loved cooking. People often asked me to cook for occasions for them and offered to pay. That same week I used my computer and printed flyers and took food tasters around Chiswick where we lived. I called myself African legend and I went to introduce the world to Nigerian food. This venture was short lived but it was my first attempt. I didn’t do too badly.
Word of mouth for my business began to spread, (not like wild fire) but I started to get a few orders here and there. Then more and more and more.
Did I mention that most Nigerian dishes use Obe-Ata as a base cooking sauce? The demand for my cooking was growing, my babies were growing.
I tried the twins with store bought baby food. They told me what they thought of it!
I was cooking and supplying food on a regular basis to some restaurants around London and family friends. However with two small children I could barely cope. One day I had a really big order. I started the same old process of preparing my Obe-Ata first. I was getting tired of doing this. I even tried making Obe-Ata with ingredients that were not all fresh. I could tell the difference in colour and most of all taste.
This particular order request was to make the food as hot as possible. Again I had to adjust the heat level of the Obe-Ata.
Then in 2009 I was going on holiday. I wanted to cook enough food so when we got back it would be easier for me. Again I started with my Obe-Ata. As I was cooking the Obe-Ata, I was thinking why don’t I look into making it commercially. Also like I said I only wanted give my children fresh food like I had growing up.
My sister in law suggested I speak to her father for advice on how to go about packaging Obe-Ata. As they say the rest is history.
This was the turning point in my life. I sat in church after the service ended, praying asking God for direction. I developed the range of cooking strengths of Obe-Ata because I was always cooking for family and friends and corporate events.
Sometimes I would be asked to make some of the dishes very very hot! Others would request no chilli at all. One day I thought to myself why don’t I come up with the same base sauce but in different strengths.
I knew that the requests were the same either hot or even hotter so I developed a 5 strength range of obe-Ata base cooking sauces.
I discovered just how versatile Obe-Ata could be and began developing different recipes and adapting recipes from around the world.
90% of Nigerian dishes use Obe-Ata as the base. For instance, our famous and delicious Jollof rice, Egusi soup, moin moin, Efo soup, Ewa(beans) and so the list goes on.
However I started looking at recipes from around the world and substituting tinned tomatoes or similar with Obe-Ata. The difference was unbeatable, especially when parents would say their children don’t usually like rice, or pasta. I have so many wonderful experiences I would love to share with you.
I used Obe-Ata medium strength to cook beef tagine, I used the hot Obe-Ata to cook chilli con carne, I used the ever so mild to cook Easy peasy chicken, I used the ever so mild to cook for children in a nursery- the staff said the children loved the food and came for seconds. Even when I nervously cooked Jollof rice, a dish they had never eaten or tasted it before; the children loved it. I became more confident I started to cook pizzas just adding a pinch of herbs, crushing a little garlic to Obe-Ata and heating through and spreading as a pizza base. The praise from both the staff and the children often brought tears to my eyes. The day one of the children from the nursery came with the teacher because he said he wanted to see who cooked the food. (wouldn’t you cry too).
I started doing public events whenever I could and food markets, school fairs . It was great. I had the help of some amazing friends who pushed and pushed and used their talents to help me along the way. And here I am today.
I developed a 4 strength range of Obe-Ata cooking sauces all from my little kitchen hence the name, Toyin’s Kitchen. However I realised that parents and carers also wanted to use Obe-Ata for their young children especially for weaning dishes so I had to create our Ever so Mild strength that has no chilli but all the wonderful taste of Obe-Ata. So now I have 5 strengths in my Obe-Ata cooking sauce range.
They are Ever so Mild, (thanks Kate), Mild, Medium, Hot, & Playing with fire which is as hot as it’s name! (thank you for the feed back from hard core foodies at the foodies festival!!) They would taste and say thats not hot!...but it certainly is now.
I would like to see parents give their children the very best start in life with fresh easy to use easy to cook with Obe-Ata.
A customer at a show I did put it perfectly. She said about Obe- Ata from Toyin’s Kitchen.
“it’s such a simple idea but yet it’s so genious”