Banga soup which means palm nut soup is a Nigerian delicacy, a native to sourthern part (Niger-Delta). This soup is called Ofe Akwu by the Igbos and Abak Atama by the Efiks.
There method of preparation is quite different because of the type of spices and herbs used. Banga comes in two types, we have the Agric (fleshy and contains more oil) and the Native(smaller but sweater). It’s always advisable to combine both to get the maximum benefits.
The oil used in preparing Banga soup is extracted from palm fruits which are quite different from the red palm oil used.
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Palm Oil is pure oil extracted from the palm fruit pulp at high temperatures while the palm fruit oil extract used for the Banga Soup is extracted at a very low temperature.
This is a mixture of oil and water and contains less saturated fat than palm oil. Banga soup can be prepared with Ogiri okpe.
This is a food flavoring produced from fermented oil seeds such as egusi seeds, Prosopis africana (Mesquite seeds), castor oil seeds, fluted pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
It originated from West African, precisely igbo. It has a very strong aromatic smell that sets the whole house on a high pitch once the ogiri okpei jumps into the soup pot.
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Ingredients for Banga Soup
a. 1 kg Palm Fruits or 800g tinned Palm Fruit Concentrate
c. Dry Fish
d. Vegetable: Scent Leaves for Ofe Akwu or dried and crushed bitterleaves for Delta-style Banga Soup
e. 2 medium onions
f. 2 tablespoons ground crayfish
g. Salt and Chilli Pepper (to taste)
h. Ogiri Okpei (Iru)
i. 1-2 big stock cubes
Before you cook the Nigerian Banga Soup
a. Wash palm nuts, and place in a pot with water to boil
b. After 30 minutes it should be thoroughly cooked so drain the water
c. Place the cooked palm nut in a bowl,pot or mortar and pound gently to extract the juice or knead with your hands
d. When the skin is peeled from the nuts, add warm or cold water and sieve out the juice.
e. Cook the beef and the dry fish with its necessary ingredients (onions and stock cube).
f. Wash and cut the scent leaves into tiny pieces. The scent leaves give the Banga Stew (Ofe Akwu) a unique taste and aroma. It may be difficult for come across, for those outside Nigeria , pumpkin leaves can be an aternative
g. Cut and grind the remaining bulb of onion together with crayfish, ogiri okpei and pepper in a mortar or grind with dry mill and set aside.
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a. Set the pot of palm fruit extract on the stove and start cooking at high heat. Bring to a boil till you see the red oil at the surface
b. Now, add the beef, dry fish and stock, the onions, crayfish and pepper and leave to boil very well.
c. After 30mins the stew should be cooked, thick with oil floating at the top
d. Add the scent leaves or other vegetable and salt to taste. Leave to simmer for about 2 mins.
e. The Banga Soup is done. Serve with White Rice or use the Delta-style Banga Soup to eat Starch, Garri, Semolina, Amala or Pounded Yam.
For those using the tinned palm fruit juice, follow this method
a. When the beef and fish are well done, and add the palm fruit extract
b. Add water to get the consistency you like for your stews. Then bring to a boil
c. Add the onions, crayfish, pepper and ogiri(optional) blend and let it boil very well.
d. Add the scent leaves or other vegetable and
e. Add salt to taste. Leave to simmer for about 2 mins. The Banga Soup is done and ready to go with rice or eba
f. The one prepared with bitter leaves goes well with starch while the other prepared with scent leaves goes with white rice
g. Lets go further to look at how the Niger-deltas prepare this delicacy. The two methods are slightly different because of the spices. This is how an itsekiri woman prepare this meal.
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Ingredients for Banga Soup
a. Meat (1kg)
b. Crayfish (half cup)
c. Fresh prawn [oporo](one cup)
d. Fresh Palm Fruits (Banga) (8 cups)
e. Medium sized dry fish / smoked fish (1)
f. Red scotch bonnet pepper “Ata rodo” (8)
g. Ataiko (1 tbsp)
h. Irugege (1 teaspoon)
i. Oburunbebe Stick (Banga stick) (1)
j. Dried Beletientien leaves (half cup) orThinly sliced bitter leaves (half cup)
k. 3 cubes of knorr
l. Periwinkles (1)
m. Salt to taste
o. N.B: This ingredients can serve 12 people, you can reduce and add best on the quantity you need
Direction for Banga Soup
a. Crushed dried beletientien leaves, also called atama leaf in Efik or thinly sliced bitter leaves
b. Grind the ataiko, irugege and a cup of crayfish. Add them all together, blend to powder.
c. Blend the pepper.
d. Wash the dried or smoked fish and debone.
e. Wash and precook the prawn with a half cup of water, a cube of maggi and a pinch of salt.
f. Wash and steam your meat properly using two cubes of knorr and a pinch of salt.
g. Boil the palm fruit for 20 minutes, pound with a mortar and pestle,add water and strain the palm juice in your cooking pot. You will need about 7-10 cups of that palm fruit juice for this cooking. It should be thick.
h. Allow to boil for 15 minutes with the pot half-covered. It should be a lot thicker now.
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i. Add the washed dried fish, ground (crayfish, ataiko plus irugege), oburunbebe stick, precooked meat, ground pepper and salt to taste. Cover and allow another 10 minutes.
j. Add the crushed dried beletientien leaves or thinly sliced bitter leaves, precooked prawn, periwinkles and one cube of knorr.
k. Stir, cover and allow to simmer for 3 minutes. This is how to make the popular banga soup that is loved and made by the Deltans.
Serve with starch, eba or fufu.IMPORTANT!: Follow us on Instagram @InfoGuideNigeria
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