Ofe Akwu also known as Banga soup is a delicacy eaten by both both the people of Delta state and the Ibos especially those in Amambra. while Delta people use theirs to eat starch, Ibo’s use theirs to eat white rice. It’s a bit tasking and time-consuming, plus you will have a lot to wash up after cooking, but its worth it when you taste it!
Wash the Banga kernels thoroughly and boil making sure the water covers the Banga in the pot.
Wash the goat meat with salt taking care to remove sand and wood chips attached to the pieces of meat. Put in a pot and boil with 2 Maggi cubes and dry Cameroon pepper. Don’t add salt yet until the meat is half way done.
Blend the tomato, pepper, tatashe, crayfish, okpei, and uziza seeds then set aside. Fill a kettle of water and place on fire, this will be used for extracting the oil from the Banga.
When the water in the Banga shows signs of oil in it or the Banga soft, you know its done. Strain it in a metal sieve then pour in a wide mortar and pound while still very hot.
Pound until the fibre is seperated from the kernels. Pour hot water into the mortar and stir with a metal cooking spoon. Strain the extracted oil into the pot you plan on making your stew with. Pound the kernels a little more and repeat the extraction process two more times or until the water is no longer thick with oil.
On medium heat boil till the oil extract reduces to half its original quantity, this should take about 45 mins. Add your washed dry fish, tomato blend, 2 Maggi crayfish cubes and stock from the boiled goat meat. Taste for salt.
Boil uncovered for 35 mins or until stew starts to thicken. Add the cooked meat, allow to boil for 15 mins, then add the pumpkin leaves, scent leaves and fresh curry leaves, turn off the fire after 5 mins.
Serve hot with boiled brown rice or regular white rice.
*Tips: Adding salt to your meat before it boils makes it hard and takes longer to boil. Always best to wait till the meat boils properly before adding salt, its safe to add Maggi though.
Use metal utensils for extracting the oil from the Banga nuts – spoon and sieve, this will make washing up afterwards easy, as plastic can easily get stained and need more soap and effort to rid them of palm oil.
Also place newspapers on the floor around your work area in order to reduce the oil stains.
Don’t cut the scent leaf(nchu-anwu) until you are ready to add it to the stew otherwise it will blacken and lose its aroma.
You can wash and set aside though.