Oha soup is native to the South Eastern Nigeria. Oha (also spelt and pronounced as Ora) is a delicate vegetable and has a very unique flavour.
The first time I tasted Oha (Ora) soup was in 2009 in the restaurant of the High Court of the FCT. I had gone to court early that day and by lunch time I was famished, especially after sitting through all the proceedings, I was in the mood for something more exciting. Food is exciting, that is why I don’t miss practice.
So back to my story, they had Oha on the menu, I had no idea what it was but I was willing to try. I was hooked!
I remember when I had my son in 2011, I came down with a bad flu, adjusting to my new life as a mum was stressful. My husband’s aunt made me a bowl of spicy Oha Soup. That was the only food I could ingest, it worked like a charm and my appetite came back. I love Oha Soup.
• Oha leaves a handful
• Cocoyam – 8 small corms or Alternatively 1 1/2 tablespoon of ground Achi
• Red Palm Oil – 2 cooking spoons
• Assorted Beef meats
• Assorted dry Fish
• Fresh peppers (scotch bonnet / habenero /ata rodo) – i like the flavour of fresh Cameroon/Nsukka pepper so i use it. It’s yellow scotch bonnet-.
• Salt to taste
• Crayfish (powdered)
• Bouillon Cubes
• 1 teaspoon Ogiri Igbo (for the traditional taste but optional)
- Grind pepper and set aside.
- Wash and boil the cocoyam corms till soft.
- Remove the peels and in a blender , blend to a smooth paste you can also use a mortar and pestle , that is the more traditional approach.
- Wash oha leaves. Using your fingers, cut the Ora (Oha) leaves into tiny pieces. It is said that this technique is to prevent the vegetable from becoming darker in colour which happens when you cut the ora leaves with a knife. I’ve tried cutting oha with a knife and it didn’t turn dark, but then i cut and used immediately. I’d say whatever rocks your boat. Set it aside.
- Season and boil the meats, when then are tender add stock fish and dry fish.
- Add the pepper, ogiri Igbo and ground crayfish and cook for 10 minutes. Add the cocoyam paste in small lumps and then the palm oil. If using achi, just stir it in, starting with 1 tbsp first. Achi is a thicken and it sometimes has a slightly slippery consistency.
- Cover the pot and leave to cook on high heat till all the cocoyam lumps have dissolved. You can add more water if you feel that the soup is too thick. * Remove smoked catfish Ifyou are using any at this point to prevent disintegration
- Add the oha (ora) leaves and leave to cook for about 3 – 5 minutes with the lid off.
Serve with your favourite starchy side dish.
Filing this under food therapies. I’ve called this soup Ofe Assorted because that is what it is, I’ve used the basic principle for cooking soups like Oha, Onugbu, Ofe owerri to make this soup, using 3 of my favourite vegetables together. I have also resisted the temptation of calling this soup Ofe Owerri as I have no intention of offering the “Guardians of ancient recipes”, as that is tantamount to offending the gods of the land.
I have stayed a safe distance from entering right smack into the controversy of what vegetable goes into Ofe Owerri. I understand the importance of preserving ancient recipes, if you must tweak it, by all means mention that you put a spin on it but don’t say that is gospel.
I’m a Yoruba girl raised in Ibadan and I know that something as simple as a Ewedu soup has to be made as simple as it is yo stay true to it. Just Ewedu, iru water, salt ,seasoning and if you want to add potash to soften it. Addition of Egusi , fish and all what else is a spin on it, don’t sell it as the original recipe.
- 1 1/2 cup shredded Oha leaves
- 1 cup shredded Uziza leaves
- 1/2 cup shredded Utazi leaves
- 1 litre Stock
- 3 tbsp fresh pepper blend
- 1/2 Cup Palm oil
- Assorted Meats (cooked)
- 3 tbsp ground crayfish
- 1/2 cup mini snails
- 1/2 cup periwinkle in shell
- 1/2 cup shredded Stockfish
- 1/2 cup shredded Bonga fish
- 1/2 cup shredded smoked Eja Osan
- 2 Bouillon cubes (I used knorr)
- 1 tsp Ogiri (optional)
- 1 tbsp dried Achi
- Salt (to taste)
- Cook your assorted meats till they are tender and you have about 1 litre of rich stock. To improve the flavour of your stock for this soup add some Stockfish or smoked fish head while cooking your meats.
- Add your fresh pepper blend and palm oil, ground crayfish and cook for about 10mins.
- Next add your smoked fish, stockfish, snails and periwinkle , cook for about 5 – 7 mins.
- Add your achi , stirring it in carefully . Cook on medium heat for about 3 mins.
- Add your vegetables, giving the Utazi and Uziza a 2 minutes head start before the Oha.
- Turn the heat off after cooking it for about 5 mins.