Curry-Flavored Nigerian Stock

This flavorful broth is an essential ingredient for many Nigerian dishes, including jollof rice, fried rice, stew, chicken curry, and more.

Stock in a line on a counter

Serious Eats / Maureen Celestine

Why It Works

  • Using a combination of meats produces a deeper, richer, more complex stock.
  • Blending the vegetables back into the stock boosts its overall flavor while enhancing the stock's body.

Flavorful stocks are the backbone of many Nigerian dishes. There are two main types of stock: one for soups, such as the one prepared as part of this Egusi soup recipe, and this one that includes curry powder as a key seasoning and is used for stew, jollof rice, fried rice, Nigerian chicken curry, chicken and meat pies, and a host of other things.

It is typically seasoned with Nigerian/Caribbean-style curry powder, dried thyme, ginger, red onion, and garlic and can include more than one type of meat, often a combination of two from options like beef, chicken, turkey, and goat. The flavors are different enough from Western-style stocks, which often use only one type of meat and usually feature aromatics like celery, carrots, and white or yellow onions.

I almost always make stock as the first step in the journey to a pot of Nigerian stew or jollof rice. This does add to the overall cooking time, but it's worth pointing out that Nigerian stock isn't usually simmered for as long as a Western-style stock: the goal is to extract flavor from the meat and bones, but not to build a very gelatinous stock through the lengthier process of melting tough, collagen-rich connective tissue into gelatin.

When making the stock as part of a larger recipe, I use stewing cuts, and favor ones that have bones attached like ribs, brisket, shank, and neck. This allows me to use the cooked chunks of meat after simmering them in the stock, either in the dish itself (such as for stew) or served alongside dishes like jollof rice after frying the meat in oil or roasting it in the oven or in an air-fryer until browned and crisp—an efficient, no-waste strategy.

It was only a few years ago that I started making stock as a stand-alone recipe, so that I could keep it frozen and have it on hand for convenience sake, especially for recipes where I don't otherwise need or plan to serve the meat from the broth alongside or in the finished dish. In those cases, I usually use bones—most often half beef and half chicken—which are often less expensive than stewing cuts, and allow me to make the most of scraps saved from leftovers (though they're easy enough to also buy for cheap at the butcher). This way, I can have a batch of stock ready for recipes where I don't need the full complement of meat as an accompaniment to the meal or the meat in the recipe itself will come from another source, such as when I'm making meat pies, moinmoin, or Nigerian chicken curry. 

For many years, I’d discard the onions and bell pepper once the stock was cooked, but I’ve stopped doing that in favor of blending them back into the stock for a full-bodied, somewhat thicker result. The finished stock should be rich with spicy notes of ginger and garlic, vegetal ones from the green bell pepper, the warmth of curry powder, and some herbiness from the bay leaf and dried thyme.

Recipe Facts

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 80 mins
Total: 90 mins
Makes: 3 quarts

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Ingredients

  • One 2-ounce (60g) piece fresh ginger (about one 4-inch knob), peeled
  • 4 medium cloves garlic (3/4 ounce; 20g), peeled
  • 1 pound 12 ounces (about 800g) assorted beef and chicken bones (including backs and wings)
  • 1 medium red onion (8 ounces; 225g), roughly chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper (5 ounces; 140g), stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 1 habanero pepper, whole (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (22g) Nigerian/Caribbean-style curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea or kosher salt

Directions

  1. In a blender, process ginger and garlic with 2 cups (475ml) water until thoroughly blended.

    Overhead view of garlic, ginger, and water mixed together in a blender

    Serious Eats / Maureen Celestine

  2. In a large pot, combine beef and chicken bones with onion, bell pepper, and habanero (if using). Pour ginger-garlic mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into pot, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible before discarding the fiber. Add curry powder, dried thyme, bay leaves, black pepper, and a large pinch of salt. Add enough additional water to just cover all solid ingredients (about 2 1/2 quarts; 2.5L); stir to combine.

    Three image collage. On the left, top: vegetables and meat added to a stock pot. On the left, bottom: garlic and ginger puree added through a strainer. On the right: spices being added to the pot

    Serious Eats / Maureen Celestine

  3. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the stock is aromatic and the vegetables are soft, about 45 minutes.

    A wooden spoon lifting softened vegetables out of a pot

    Serious Eats / Maureen Celestine

  4. Off heat, remove the bones with a pair of tongs; if there’s meat on the bones, you can pull it off later as a snack, but otherwise discard the bones.

    A pair of thongs lifting a bone from the broth

    Serious Eats / Maureen Celestine

  5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables and bay leaves to the blender and puree with 1 cup (225ml) of stock until homogenous and smooth. Pour pureed vegetables through a fine-mesh strainer back into stock, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard remaining vegetable matter trapped in the strainer. Stir well to combine.

    Four Image Collage. Top Left: Unblended stock in blender. Top Right: Blended stock mixture in blender. Bottom left: Pouring stock through a strainer back into pot. Bottom Right: finished stock in pot

    Serious Eats / Maureen Celestine

  6. Use stock as desired, or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.

    Finished stock in an airtight container

    Serious Eats / Maureen Celestine

Special Equipment

Large pot or Dutch oven

Notes

This recipe can be scaled up or down to make more or less stock, as desired.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The stock can be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. For versatility, the stock can be frozen in an ice cube tray and then transferred to a zipper-lock bag, or divided into cup- or pint-sized batches, to be thawed for use in recipes large or small.