Ofe Onugbu

In recent times I’ve done very little “cooking”, most meals have consisted of quick fixes, take outs or otherwise cooked by someone else. I had a rough start this year. Thankfully it’s been rough for the right reasons, Growth in my  business Fontaine De Vie. Shortage of man power,  break down of some machinery welcomed the growth, it was a gruelling time because we just had to meet up. I went from a production staff strength of 5  to 1 coupled with no domestic staff to help with the home front, I found myself borrowing more hours  from the next day  only to fall short. It’s amazing how my health didn’t fail in all of this. I made it through and  I’m grateful  for the lessons I learnt during the phase.  Challenges are made to strengthen  you, it won’t break you if you don’t let it. 
Ofe Onugbu recipe is the same as that of Oha, only difference is the leaves, Oha and Onugbu (Bitter Leaf). I’m a yoruba girl who loves to cook eastern and south eastern soups, a little more pepper than the traditional requirement and I’m good!

Ingredients

•     Onugbu leaves (Bitter Leaf) a handful

    Thickeners 

•    Cocoyam – 8 small corms

Or

•    Achi (2 Tablespoons *powdered)

Or

•    Ofor  ( 2 Tablespoons *powdered)

•    Red Palm Oil – 2 cooking spoons

•    Assorted Beef meats

•    Assorted dry  Fish

•    Fresh peppers (scotch bonnet / habenero /ata rodo)

•    Salt to taste

•    Crayfish (powdered)

•   Bouillon Cubes

•    1 teaspoon Ogiri Igbo (for the traditional taste but optional)

Procedure

–    Grind pepper and set aside.

image
Blended Pepper

Achi on the left, Ofor the right, ground mixture of both in front

*If using Cocoyam

–    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.

image
Mashed Cocoyam using a blender

–   Personally I buy, bitter leaves that have been washed in the market. However when I get home I pour boiling hot water over the bitter leaves and leave it steep for about a minute and strain, a friend advised I use salt to just wash it a little more instead of using hot water,  to get rid of more of the bitterness. Now you may prefer to buy your own Bitter Leaf fresh , and wash from the scratch, I think it is tedious, but hey whatever rocks your boat. Set it aside.

–   Season and  boil the meats, when then are tender add stock fish and dry fish.

image

–    Add the pepper, ogiri Igbo and ground crayfish and cook for 10 minutes. Now add either Achi/Ofor powder mix or the cocoyam paste in small lumps then the palm oil

See Pictures below.

image
Ogiri

image

image
image

–    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 if you are using any at this point to prevent disintegration

–    Add the washed Onugbu (bitter) leaves and leave to cook for about 5 minutes.

* Ever since the Igbo woman who sells  me spices adviced I use a combination of Achi and Ofor instead of Cocoyam, I have come to fall in love with it. The smoothness, the consistency, the taste, is so different from what I get with cocoyam.  I love it.

Serve with your favourite starchy side dish. E.g Eba, Amala, Pounded Yam,  even Rice.

Egusi Soup; With a burst of flavours.

A picture they say, says a thousands words, unfortunately it does not express the fragrance or taste. If it did, you’d know how I feel about this plate of Egusi Soup. It tastes and smells good to the last drop!

image

I wish we explored our local spices and flavours a little more then we would give up the excessive salt and MSG  we put in our food. I made this Egusi without palm oil, however,  I replaced palm oil with Palm nut cream, I used a generous about of Ehu ( Calabash Nutmeg), Ogiri and Uziza leaves.

Recipe

Ingredients

•    2 cups blended Egusi (Melon Seeds)

•    Assorted Meats (Snail, Cowleg, Goat meat)

•    Assorted Fish (Stock fish, Smoked fish)

•   1 tbsp Ground crayfish

•    3 cups shredded Ugu  (flute pumpkin leaves)

•    1 Cup Shredded Uziza leaves

•    2 1/2 Cups Blended Pepper Mix (Tomatoes + Scotch Bonnet + Jalapeño/Bawa/Sombo/ long tatashe)

•    1 Large Onion

•   3 Umilo/Ulima Seed (blended with a dry mill or coffee blender,  in the absence of those pound it in a mortar

• 1 Ehu Seed (blend with the Ulima)

•    Meat Stock

•    2 Bouillon cubes

•    Salt to taste

•    1 wrap Ogiri

•    1  cup of concentrated Palm nut cream. If you’d be making yours use about 500g of  Palm nuts (Banga/Akwu). That should yield about 3 cups of palm nut extract.

Procedure

–   Wash, season with salt and bouillon cubes your assorted meats, cook with onion till tender, add assorted fish if using any and add blended pepper, cook till the pepper doesn’t taste raw.

image

–    Add blended Ehu and Ulima seeds, crayfish and Ogiri. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.

image

–   Add your blended Egusi into the soup, it would soak up all the water.  Dilute the palm nut concentrate if you are using the tinned type and add to the egusi in the pot.  Stir till all is incorporated. At this point taste if it requires additional seasoning with salt or bouillon cubes. Adjust to your taste buds, do not over power.

image image

–      Allow the egusi to cook for 10 mins, then  stir in the two washed and shredded vegetables. Once the vegetables have gone in cook only for an additional 5 minutes, with the lid off, so as not to over cook and to let excess water escape. The heat of the soup is enough to finish it off after that. Serve with your choice of side dish.

image image image