Iya Mutiu: Amala Eatery of top clienteles
Ogbomoso, a Yoruba Oyo city is home to several Yoruba traditional delicacies relished by its people. Amala (or oka) stands out as a cuisine savoured by the old and the young and has become a transcendental meal enjoyed by non-Yorubas across various borders. Amala is a cookery that is eaten anytime of the day – morning, afternoon and night. It is prepared from yam flour (elubo) which is processed yam (amala gidi); another variant comes from processed cassava called lafun. But amala gidi is the king! Amala forms a great meal when taken with tasty soup, of gbegiri (bean paste), ewedu (jute leaf), efo (vegetable), osiki (jute leaf with melon paste), garnished with stew and spicy meat/fish of various kinds.
The origin of amala is lost in antiquity but the culinary skill that goes into preparing it has continued to spiral up. Of the cities where one can have a yummy amala meal is Ogbomoso, in fact a visit to the city without a meal of amala is incomplete. Joints where this is sold are common sights that are clienteles’ delight. Several are the joints but few are the top ones that are thronged by customers, these are where the palate can have a feel of a good meal.
One top amala joint Ogbomoso, the “Land of the Valiant,” boasts of, is the “Iya Mutiu Amala Eatery,” located along Ogbomoso-Oyo road at Idi-Oro Area. Insight Hospitality recently takes a trip to the eatery to have its feel and to unravel the story behind the delectable joint that serves the high and the mighty as well as the average and low income earners. The appetizing serving is only surpassed by its own scrumptiousness, it is no wonder it hosts governors, senators, top politicians and other upscale clienteles. “Iya Mutiu,” is indeed a household name in Ogbomoso in the dispensing of amala and soup that is pleasant to the palate. It is about the most popular amala eatery in Ogbomoso today.
The founder and chief executive of the high riding refectory is Omodele Aweni Ibrahim, who is now in her 70s. From a humble beginning, the business has grown in leaps and bounds with her grown-up children now incorporated into it, taking turn to manage sales, among whom are graduates of higher institutions.
How she started, the menu
The septuagenarian began her amala romance under the care of her aunt (her father’s elder sister) in Ajaawa, headquarters of Ogo-Oluwa local government. She was diligent and passionate; she learned the rope painstakingly and was able to uncover the nitty-gritty of amala cookery. In the late 1980s, she started out on her own, leaving her aunt to follow her own path. Interestingly, she has always maintained the Idi-Oro location, same spot. Shortly after she established the eatery, the name “Iya Mutiu” stuck to her to this day like a leech. Mutiu is the name of her first son. She had her own share of travail from rivals and envious people but she prevailed after a lot of exertions.
The carte du jour of the buka consists of amala, tuo (semovita), eba, fufu and iyan (pounded yam), served with variety of soups mentioned above. Abula (ewedu mixed with gbegiri) is the queen of the soup in the eatery and indeed of amala, while meat ranges from eran igbe (bush meat) of various kinds depending on what the market offers on each day, ogufe (goat meat), eran adie (chicken), wara (soy cheese), nanmo (beef) and nkan nu (offals), which are mega sized and come in very tasty stew.
The bush meat goes for N1, 000, chicken – N500, goat meat – N300 and cow meat N200. You can have your meal in the neat, appealing cafeteria with many preferring to have the soup served over the amala in a hollow plate. The alternative is to have the amala in wraps with the soup served in another plate. Either way, you wouldn’t wish to exhaust the meal as its sumptuousness gratifies the palate and leaves a satisfying experience. Take-away is yet another option for those who wish to eat it away from there. For the lovers of pounded yam with prawn-embellished vegetable, the time to come is afternoon.
The good thing however is that the dish here is affordable. “If you have N200 you will get a good food garnished with meat,” Iya Mutiu discloses with glee.
Mutiu, now a HND holder, who with his wife, also a graduate of a polytechnic, took charge of sales on the day Insight Hospitality calls, discloses that dignitaries who sit astride the top echelon of the society form the bulk of those that come for a treat at their canteen.
“In fact, about two weeks ago, a deputy governor came around to eat here. This isn’t a surprise at all as we have cared for governors, senators, honourables, top business executives, lecturers and all manner of highly placed people.”
Her mother adds, “It is God, if you go to a canteen and have a delicious meal, you will have the urge to return there and inform others. People have come from Lagos, from Ibadan, from Abuja. In fact, if not for the raging corona virus pandemic that keeps people at home and cuts down drastically the number of travelers you would have found this place more bustling with customers.”
The management of the canteen has continued to improve its aesthetic both the exterior and interior so as to have a more alluring business place. From a wooden shack structure in its early days, the restaurant now boasts modern setting for the comfort of its customers. And if you are the type that likes to eat in the open to have the full complement of the breeze, congratulations as you have a place to occupy.
Mutiu, who swivels yam flour into amala with stirring nimbleness, scoops it into plates with stunning agility for a man and ladles the soup with relish saying though he still have the pull of seeking federal government job at times, informs that to further upgrade the outfit for a better fulfilling experience for their clienteles is their constant goal.
Iya Mutiu also submitting she is fulfilled enthuses, “With this job, I educated my children; they have their own houses, bought cars and I have grandchildren overseas. God has been good to me!”
The restaurant is a haven for those who like to eat out, the amala offered here is certainly what brings excitement and keeps folks coming back.