Nigeria is vast state with diverse ethnic groups and numerous diversified cultures. In the same vein, different food recipes are uncountable and these recipes are blessings to us. One of such delicious soup is the banga soup! Many states of the country, like Bayelsa, Edo, Rivers and Delta including Anambra, and Abia states are well known for this kind of soup. The itshekiris in the call this palm nut soup ubey-ekpo, while the urhobos know this soup as amiedi. Others are not however left out. The yorubas know the soup as obe-eyin, while in some igbo- speaking states like Anambra and Enugu, another version of banga soup with variety, known as ofe-akwu is prepared. But this one is used on rice instead of swallows, like eba, iyan, fufu or amala.
Banga soup which is made from sauce squeezed from palm fruits, is botanically known as elaeis guineensis. It is widely eaten in Nigeria and even in West Africa as a whole. Infact, in Cameroon, our East African neighbours know it as mbanga soup.
Here in Nigeria, there are two main types of these nuts. One is fleshy and succulent; the other has bigger nuts and less pulpy. Normally both are mixed together to get the best result…
Rich in vitamin k, magnesium and vitamin a and e, it is cholesterol free, since the sauce is made from palm fruit. It contains powerful natural anti-oxidants that help in protecting the body against cancer. It equally helps to freshen the skin to look clean and supple. It lowers cholesterol level and protects the heart against heart disease.
The sauce is made by boiling the palm-fruits in abundance, in a pot with water until the pulps are soft and tender. The pulps are then transferred to a clean mortar and pounded until the sauce is extracted. It is strained from the kernel skin; the chaffs are discarded while the sauce is transferred to the pot. Make sure the sauce is thick, which helps the soup not to be watery.
Let us move to the kitchen and have a taste of this food !
Assorted goat meats can be used for this soup, fresh fish is also very good. Assorted dry fish is not a bad idea too.
Recipe for 4 servings
5 cups of fresh palm nuts
1 kilogram assorted meat[ combination of beef, shaki and others]
3 dried mangala or okpo fish
2 smoked titus or cat fish
1 bunch of basil leaf [efirin, nchuawun] [shredded]
Salt and seasoning to taste
1 big chunk of stock fish [pieced]
1 large onion [ground or sliced]
3 tablespoons ground crayfish
1 large stock fish [optional]
Wash and season the meat with salt, onion and seasonings, bring to boil and cook until quite tender. Add all the meat combinations. Make sure the stock is thick enough. While this is cooking, wash the palm nuts, pour into a sizeable pot and bring to boil. Allow to cook until very tender. This should be between twenty and twenty five minutes. Once it’s tender, remove from heat, drain and transfer to a mortar. Using a pestle pound until the fleshy part is separated from the nuts. Once this is achieved, pass the nuts through a sieve and transfer the palm products to a large bowl, pour some warm water over the nuts and extract the syrup. Make sure while doing this, the liquid does not become watery. Discard the chaff and set the palm stock on fire. Allow to boil for 20 minutes to allow the watery palm sauce to thicken. Add the meat stock and other ingredients, except the basil leaves, they will come last. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes. Wash the dry and smoked fish, including the stock fish with some warm water and add to the boiling pot. Add the crayfish, salt and seasonings to taste. Stir the soup with a wooden or a cooking spoon and add any other ingredient of your choice. The shredded basil leaves will definitely be the last ingredient. Other tribes prefer adding shredded bitter leaves, ugu leaves or even okro. Once any of these are added, cover and simmer for few minutes, remove from heat and serve hot alongside any swallow. You know what I mean, the likes of pounded yam, fufu, eba or even a warm plate of starch.