Ghana meets Nigeria in this delicious bowl of Palm nut soup and Ghanaian fufu.
Palm nut soup in all it’s deliciousness, seems to be quite common in the African continent. Different countries in Africa seem to have their different styles of making this soup, but today I shall be treating a recipe from Nigeria and one indigenous to the Igbos in the Southeast of Nigeria. Just so you know, in Nigeria alone there are more than four different styles of cooking this soup; all cooked with palmut cream as the base.
Where I grew up in Delta State, we ate the Deltan version called “Banga” soup; which makes the use of the palm nut cream along with some aromatic spices and fresh fish or seafood. The soup is cooked in a regular pot and transferred into a clay pot to maximize the soup’s flavor and help thicken it. If you taste that version ehn, kaii. You know, it is widely believed that cooking in a clay pot makes food taste better. Errm it is true 🙂
Abeg let’s stay focused. I only started cooking the Igbo version when my mother showed me how to. Different parts of the Igbo speaking community make their “Ofe Akwu” quite differently. I am from Imo State and I was taught to make mine as simple as it can be; using only crayfish, uziza leaves and salt as the only herbs and seasonings. These days, you could add aromatics such as “Nchanwu” i.e. Scent leaves and Ogiri. Some people add Ugu i.e. Pumpkin leaves to theirs, but it is really not the norm. I guess to each their pot of “Banga” 🙂
I remember going to visit a friend. I bee-lined for her refrigerator as I was hungry. On opening the fridge, I grabbed a bowl of something(I thought it was stew) along with some rice…and warmed it up. On tasting it, it tasted like palm nut, so I asked what it was and my friend replied “it’s Ofe Akwu oh.” It was absolutely delicious. Fast forward to the day my mother made this soup for me. Chukwunna! I must have eaten the whole pot. I first had it with yellow Garri; then white rice; then I had it on it’s own. I could not even move after polishing off a whole bowl 🙂 And moving on, I have made it for my family a few times, but this particular day was different. We had it with some Ghanaian Fufu made with cassava i.e. yuca and unripe plantains. I had been missing Akpu(fufu made out of cassava). Akpu is an amazing grade of fufu. I remember my mother making it from scratch. You have just got to try it. The way it slides down your throat; oh JEHOVAH! Anyway, in the absence of Akpu, I learnt how to make this version of fufu from Ndudu’s blog and just in time . I have to say I love Ndudu and what she does. She is absolutely brilliant! Most of the Ghanaian dishes she creates are so similar to Nigerian and sometimes Igbo dishes. When people say the world is a global village, it sure is 🙂
I still remember how we ate this. I served the fufu and the soup into a big wooden bowl mimicking the clay pot. My ajebutters dug in like they had not tasted anything as good as mommy’s Ofe Akwu before. It was the ‘funniest’ thing. After eating, we took a long nap. Yes fufu induces naps; in fact it would knock your very socks off, but you would always wake up feeling brand new; if not already brand new:)
I particularly enjoyed the Ogiri in this soup. It was my first time using Ogiri in Ofe Akwu and I have to say I have not made it any differently since then 🙂 If using Ogiri, you may want to be careful how you add salt and any other seasoning.
You know Christmas is a few weeks away and no be everytime rice and stew. Ofe Akwu is also bae abi?
Make some and thank me later 🙂
- 1½ lb of meats
- 1 large dry fish(soak for a few minutes; then wash and set aside)
- 1 medium sized stock fish
- 2 tbsps of powdered crayfish
- 2cups palmnut cream
- 1tbsp dry pepper
- 1 Yellow chili or atarodo(crushed)(Nsukka pepper works)
- 1tbsp ogiri(optional)
- A small bunch of basil or scent leaves(shredded or sliced)
- a handful of uziza leaves
- salt to taste
- 2medium sized plantains(peeled and cut into chunks)
- 2 medium sized cassava(peeled and cut into chunks
- 600mls of water
- In a pot, season the meats and stock fish with salt, 1 tbsp. of the crayfish, the dry pepper and bouiilon(if using). Pour water to the level of the meats and cover. Cook until the meats and stock fish is tender. (If the meats softens before the stock fish, remove the meats and cook the stock fish until tender) Once done, add the palm nut cream and stir to loosen. (Add more water to your desired thickness if needed). Bring the pot to a boil until the oil from the palm nut cream floats to the top. Add the remaining crayfish, ogiri(if using), meats(if you had to remove them from the pot to cook the stock fish) and chili. Stir to combine and cook uncovered until the soup comes to your desired thickness. Add the uziza and basil(scent) leaves. Season with salt and bouillon(if using) Stir, cover the pot and turn off the heat. The remaining steam in the pot will cook the herbs.
- Blend the raw Cassava, Plantain and 400mls of water together into a smooth paste. Pour the paste into a pot, and place on medium heat while constantly stirring until the paste has thickened. This helps to avoid lumps from forming.
- Add the remaining 200mls of water to the pot, cover and reduce the heat. Steam for about 10minutes. Increase the heat and stir the mixture until it is well combined.