Yesterday 9th of March was exactly 2 years since my Mom Ngozi Clara Chukwuma went to be with the Lord exactly 2 weeks after my traditional wedding. 2 long years without her and I’m still standing, I thank God. It hurt like hell the first year, I practically cried throughout always bursting out in tears spontaneously. Now, I’m stronger praise God.
Naming this blog after her is my way of keeping her legacy alive. A naturally born Chef and fantastic cook in her time, she competed in Maggi Cooking Competition in 1987 and came 1st regionally then went on to the national level representing the northern zone and was 3rd runner up. She opened a restaurant in Kano there after and ran it till 1992 when the religious crisis broke out and we had to move to Onitsha.
She was an awesome mother who lived and sacrificed for my sister and I who were her pride and joy. While I miss her I’m grateful she was present at my wedding, wouldn’t have been the same without her. Everyone keeps saying she waited to see me settled in my own home before going to rest and I don’t doubt it.
In December 2011 I went back to Onitsha to spend my last Christmas as a single lady with her not knowing it was her last Christmas. She was so happy I was coming home, she told everyone…..Literally! She asked what food I wanted prepared for me and I requested my favourite, her signature Ofe Nsala. She stayed up till 11pm waiting for me and when I got home, I was served this hot delicious soup which I’m sharing with you today, the exact way she prepared it.
Ingredients : 3 litres
1 old layer chicken- dressed and portioned
2 tablespoons dry uziza seeds
2 slices yam -peeeled and cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cups whole crayfish
5 fresh utazi leaves
1 small bunch fresh uziza leaves
1 medium dry fish
3 fresh ose nssuka (fresh Cameroon pepper )
1 small ball Okpei
2 small wraps Ogiri
1 tablespoon dry Cameroon pepper (she loved pepper)
2 Maggi cubes
1 Maggi crayfish cube
Salt to taste
Points to note
One significant method of preparation is that she always pounded her ingredients in a mortar, she never blended and being the last born it was my duty to pound, lol! Of course I grumbled alot back then as a teenager but today I’m grateful I was in the kitchen with her, how else would I have learnt to cook when she left before I got a chance to start asking foodie questions? I thank God! At the time I knew nothing about flavours but she did and wouldn’t allow the convenience of blending (water) dilute the taste for her.
She also combined both Okpei and Ogiri, a combination she learnt from her mother, Beatrice Anadu ( you don’t have to guess, she was a great cook! ), I use that combination as well in most of my local soups especially Edikaikong.
She preferred cooking with old layers or fresh local chicken though they took longer to cook unlike other chickens such as broilers but as always it was all about flavours for her.
Season chicken with 1/2 the dry Cameroon pepper, 2 Maggi cubes and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Don’t add water the first 10-20 minutes of cooking. Once the chicken has almost run out of juice, add water 2/3 cups at a time.
In a motar pound the dry uziza seeds first until smooth, add the crayfish, fresh peppers , Okpei , uziza leaves and utazi leaves. Pound until smooth the add the ogiri and mix into a paste. Set aside.
Wash the dry fish in hot water and set aside.
Once chicken is halfway cooked, add the crayfish blend, yam cubes and more water to cover the chicken if the stock is below the meat level.
Once the yam is cooked, take it out and pound into a smooth paste to form uli ( soup thickner). Add the dry fish and 3/4 of the uli to the soup, save the rest. Don’t cover the pot.
Add remaining seasoning cube and dry Cameroon pepper, check for salt.
Once soup is thickened, turn off heat.
Wondering what happens to the remaining uli?
Azu 🙂 .