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Banga Soup Recipe: How to Cook Delicious Ofe Akwu (Palm nut soup)

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Banga soup is a popular Nigerian soup prepared with palm nut extract or juice, this soup is native to the Igbo tribe and it is commonly eaten with boiled rice or starchy bolus. Banga stew is called by different names such as Banga soup, Ofe Akwu or palm nut stew; the picture you are seeing above is the Igbo version of Banga soup, which has its common name as Ofe Akwu; hence, there are other versions of Banga soup which I will list right away.

  • The Efik version of Banga soup is called Abak atama soup
  • Delta version is called Banga soup
  • Lastly, the Edo version is called Omoebe soup (black soup). Even though different tribes name this soup differently, there is one peculiar thing about Banga soup that makes it common and unique to many Nigerians, hence the use of palm fruit extract, but what differentiates the soup from each of this tribe, is the method and the use of different vegetables and spices for its preparation.

However, ofe akwu is a simple savoury stew prepared with many ingredients and traditional spices, anything like beef tripe, goat meat, assorted meat, dried fish, fresh fish or stockfish could be used to prepare this gravy soup. Ofe akwu is very easy to prepare and most of these ingredients are easily sourced from the local store or market. The vegetables used in garnishing Ofe akwu range from scent leaf(basil) to Ugwu (fluted pumpkin)and any of these are only added in small quantity, at most a handful, however, both scent leaf and ugwu leaf can be used together to make ofe Akwu and both taste great as well.

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One important thing about ofe akwu is that you may not have to start from scratch to cook the palm fruits, pound and then extract the juice; you can buy the already extracted canned palm nut juice from the store to save the stress because its faster compare to doing the extraction from scratch. Ofe akwu is best enjoyed with boiled rice, boiled yam or plantain, but you can as well serve this with eba if you prefer that.

Best tips for preparing ofe akwu (palm nut soup)

  • Make used of fresh palm fruits because fresh palm fruits keeps the soup fresh and thick
  • Do not add too much water to the soup, ofe akwu is not a watery soup; you will have make it a bit thicker than atama soup, hence just make
  • sure you are happy with the consistency; the Juice extracted from the palm nut should be enough to cook the soup until it is thickened.
  • You can used either scent leaf or Ugwu leaf to prepare this soup, however, both leaves could be combined, but in little amount.
  • Cook the soup until it becomes thick before the adding the shredded vegetable, the leaf should still remain fresh after the soup has been
  • brought off from heat.
  • Make sure the soup is not overly thick while cooking it because it will become thicker as it sit longer.
  • While pounding the palm fruits, the process should be done carefully, without breaking the kernels/nut inside the fruit, you are only going to
  • separate the pulp from the hard kernel.
  • Used few traditional ingredient like opei or ogiri in the soup it leaves the soup with irresistible aroma and taste.

Ingredients for preparing ofe akwu/ palm nut soup

  1. 1kg fresh palm fruits or 1 canned palm fruits extract
  2. 500g goat meat
  3. 200g stockfish
  4. 1 big size dried or iced fish
  5. 1 piece of okpei (locally made locust beans)
  6. A handful of scent leaf, finely chopped
  7. 1 handful Ugwu leaf(optional)
  8. 1 bulb onion, chopped
  9. 4 pieces of scotch bonnet peppers, blended
  10. 3 tablespoonful ground crayfish
  11. 4 seasoning stock cubes, crushed
  12. Salt to taste
  13. Rice to serve with the stew

Directions for cooking Ofe akwu (banga soup)

  • Wash, season meat with onions, pepper, seasoning cubes, salt and place on heat to cook
  • Add ugwu leaf to the meat and cook, when the meat is almost cooked, add iced fish and cook for 10 more minutes. Remove meat from the stove and keep aside.
  • Wash palm nuts into a pot and add water to cover the fruits and cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the palm fruits and drain all the liquid out, pour them into the mortar and slightly pound until the fibre separates from the hard nuts. If you are using the canned palm fruit extract, skip this step and increase the liquid in the meat just a little.
  • After pounding the nuts, add 1 cup of lukewarm water to the nuts and squeeze lightly with your palm to remove more juice.
  • Drain the extracted milk with a colander in to the pot you will use to cook your soup.
  • Add about cup of water to the palm nuts and squeeze it the second time to get all the juice, then discard the empty fibre, you can filter the extracted juice twice before pouring it into the pot, to get rid of some escaped particles of palm nuts.
  • Place the pot containing the extracted juice on heat and let it simmer on a high heat for 10 minutes. You will notice patches of oil separating to the top.
  • Bring the precooked meat into the content, add ground crayfish, pepper, opkei, onions, 2 seasoning cubes, salt, stir and leave it simmer still on a high heat. Leave it to cook for 5-10 minutes until it start thickening.
  • When you are happy with the consistency, add the chopped scent leaf and ugwu leaf if you are using both leaves and reduces the heat to low,
  • let the content simmer gently for 3 minutes.
  • Put off heat and serve your ofe akwu with boiled rice or eba if you prefer.

Simple directions for preparing ofe akwu

1. Wash and season meat with onions, pepper, 2 seasoning cubes and salt, then place on heat to cook for 20 minutes.
2. Add stockfish to the meat and cook, when the meat is almost cooked, add the dressed fish and cook for 10 more minutes. Make sure you dont add too much water to the meat while cooking it because you will have excess liquid from the extracted juice, just enough to cook your soup. When you are sure the meat is cooked, remove from the stove and keep aside.

3. Wash palm nuts into a pot and add water to cover the fruits and cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove the palm fruits and drain all the liquid out, pour them into the mortar and slightly pound until the fibre separates from the hard nuts. If you are using the canned palm fruit extract, skip this step and increase the liquid in the meat just a little.

4. After pounding the fruits, add 1 cup of lukewarm water to it and squeeze lightly with your palm to remove more juice. Strain the extracted milk with a colander in to the pot you will use to cook your soup.
5. Add about cup of water to the palm nuts and squeeze the second time to get all the juice out, then discard the empty fibre, you can filter the extracted juice twice before pouring it into the pot, to get rid of some escaped particles of palm nuts. At this point, if you are using the canned palm nut pulp, empty it into the pot you want to use to cook.

6. Place the pot containing the extracted juice on heat and let it simmer on a high heat for 10 minutes. You will notice the oil separating to the top.

 

7. Bring the precooked meat into the content, add ground crayfish, pepper, opkei, onions, 2 seasoning cubes, salt, stir the content and leave it simmer still on a high heat until it starts to thicken, this might take about 5- 10 minutes depending on your source of heat.

8. When you are happy with the consistency, add the chopped scent leaf and ugwu leaf if you are using both leaves and reduces the heat to low, let the content simmer for 3 minutes.

9. Put off heat and serve your ofe akwu with boiled rice or eba if you prefer that.

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