They say the only language the Kola nut understands is the Igbo language. It was often chewed by laborers during the time of our ancestors to help decrease the feeling of hunger. There is no Igbo ceremony with out the breaking of the Kolanut. Usually prayers are said over the Kolanut and the closest family member to the one who prayed over the kolanut now cuts the remaining Kola and passes it around along side some garden eggs (i.e egg plants) with a paste the Igbo’s call okwo’ oj’i. Okw’o oj’i is usually made with blended and whipped peanut paste. It is then mixed with some some aromatic ingredients. I would go into the whole history about Kola nuts but, I am not giving a lesson on how to plant Kola nut trees am I? Let’s stick to the fun stuff 🙂
I always loved the smokey taste of okwo’ oj’i. I used to sit right by my dad and mother during family functions and nibble on the egg plants and lick the peanut paste. Okw’o oj’i gets it’s distinctive name from the use of Okwa ie the mortar in making/serving it. As we have different Igbo dialects, so does the name for this appetizer vary. Some Igbos call it Okwa Ose. I am from Imo state and some parts of it call it Okwo Oji. GOD truly Blessed my ancestors.
I made my spicy paste with peanut butter. You may use raw peanuts as it is the usual. The only work there is; is the frying of the raw peanuts until done; which after wards you peel off the skin, run through a food processor; then mix in the ingredients. You could also use unsalted/ salted dry roasted peanuts. The peanut has its own oil, so no need to add plenty to the blending process. Although I have a slight allergy to peanuts, for some reason it never really bugs me when I eat peanut butter. So due to it’s milder reaction, I decided to go with the with the peanut butter as opposed to using peanuts. It tasted just as the same as when I was younger . I did not have a mortar either so I used the closest bowl to a mortar that I had. I also served mine wit some Thai egg plants because I had no kola in hand. In any case, I was able to bring back the fond memories of my father, the Igbo community parties, and my siblings…Nostalgia!
Now, I will give a quick lesson on how to make this paste, so you can wow your folks on your next family gathering :). You may even eat it with some apples(My ancestors forgive me:)) Wait until you taste it before you scream Eureka!
- I lb peanut butter paste or grinded peanuts(not the boiled ones)
- ½ tbsp of dry grinded Cameroon pepper or 1tbsp dry chili pepper powder(add more or less according to your heat tolerance)
- half to one small bouillon cube. You may use salt if you prefer(if using salted peanuts, or peanut butter, always taste before seasoning)
- 8-10 ehuru seeds(roasted and grinded into a fluffy powder)
- in a small bowl or small mortar, thoroughly mix your spices and peanut butter. Serve with kolanuts or garden eggs. Apples and pears would work too. I served mine with Thai egg plants
- If using peanuts, blend until smooth. Gradually add a very small amount of oil and keep whipping until very smooth; then mix in the ingredients. The consistency may be a little different from the one made with the creamy peanut butter...refrigerate and enjoy