Taste traditional Nigerian suya beef and jollof rice in this Mississauga mall
Naija Jollof is located on the second floor of Westwood Square Mall at 7215 Goreway Dr. in MIssissauga
During a recent food tour through the Malton area of Mississauga, I explored the recently renovated Westwood Square Mall.
My first experience inside the mall was a little dizzying; there are narrow passageways in various directions as you walk by glass parking-spot-sized units. People are getting their phones unlocked, their nails done, their taxes processed. They're also eating, and they're eating well.
When you're ready for lunch, I suggest you head up the escalator to the second floor of the mall to Naija Jollof, a counter that serves Nigerian food.
"Our goal is to do Nigerian food, both traditional food and some street food, " said Beauty Darosa, the woman behind Naija Jollof. She co-owns it with her sister Peace Peter.
It's Nigerian food that brought me to the food court. My family spent some time in Nigeria when I was a kid, and some of my earliest memories of food are associated with heaping plates of stewed meats and vegetables that were served with jollof rice, rice cooked with stock and red peppers and tomato paste.
I remember the taste of the rice vividly; it was always a bright orange colour with a slight spicy taste but profound tomato flavours.
"Jollof rice is life. We eat this all the time back home," Darosa explained.
Both she and her sister were born in Nigeria, but have been in Canada for the last decade. They decided to open the lunch counter to address the lack of Nigerian options in the city.
"There are a few Nigerian places, but nothing feels homemade."
Darosa and Peter rotate a daily menu of fish, meat and vegetable stews to go with the jollof rice. You can eat rice there for a week and not repeat the same plate twice.
Recently, I rediscovered another dish on the menu that has now become a favourite. The suya beef. As a kid, I would remember eating strips of fried beef whenever we would visit someone's house.
My dad would obsess over this snack. "It goes very well with beer" he would often say.
"It's Nigerian street food, but so many places get it wrong. I wanted to do suya beef properly," Darosa said.
Suya beef is fried pieces of fatty beef that have been seared on a grill before getting smothered in a blend of spices. It includes ginger, African pepper, and Kuli Kuli, a spice blend made from roasted and ground peanuts mixed with salt and black pepper.
The seared cuts of meat get tossed in this mixture before it's served with slices of raw onion.
"The best thing about this dish is that there are two tastes to it. Fresh when the spices are pronounced. But it also tastes so good when you take it home and bring it out for a late night snack."