Ofe Nsala – The way Mom cooked it

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Ngozi Clara Chukwuma

Ngozi Clara Chukwuma

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.

 

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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.

Enjoy!

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 )

4 atarodo

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

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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.

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Old Layers

Method :

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Add remaining seasoning cube and dry Cameroon pepper, check for salt.

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Once soup is thickened,  turn off heat.

Mom's favourite part...hehe

Mom’s favourite part…hehe

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My favourite part

My favourite part

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Wondering what happens to the remaining uli?

My mom used to give me the first taste of the soup she made, she always saved some of the soup  thickner for me and what you see was my plate of reward for being her little (grumbling ) helper

My mom used to give me the first taste of the soup she made, she always saved some of the soup thickner for me and what you see was my plate of reward for being her little (grumbling ) helper

Azu 🙂 .

29 Comments

  1. helen says:

    Clara I love u so much this is wahooooo. Thank God for ur wonderful mama she equally left a genius behind. U took me strength home. ofe nsala I love it but ur mama added a finishing touch can’t wait to try ur method cheers.

  2. Charity Edochie Okoli says:

    Late clara was was my husbands cousin, all Azuka said about her is true. She pampered me with her nsala soup and other delicacies during my first morning sickness. Calling me “Charie nwunye m” An acclaimed good cook. I was at Azukas wedding too celebrating with sister Ngozi as I addressed her, not knowing she was leaving this earth. I will continue to miss her loving spirit missed her good cooking. But glad that she handed over the culinary art Azuka, Her “Miss Nigeria” as she fondly called her. Thanks Azuka for bringing back sweet memories of my beloved!

  3. Ada says:

    Job welldone sis. Indeed, we had a special mum! Really proud of you and I’m
    sure mum is smilling down from heaven too. Yummy dish! Sannu!

  4. Chiz says:

    May her soul rest in peace. I love the way u spoke about her. She’ll be so proud of you.

  5. neker17 says:

    I have eaten ofe nsala once in my life. And I loved it and hoped that I’d be able to make it one day. Thank you, Mama Azu for this recipe. I will try it out. I don’t really like crayfish and there’s a lot of it in the recipe. Can I reduce the amount?

  6. neker17 says:

    Is there a particular type of yam I must use?

  7. Dinah Inyang says:

    Made my first ofe Nsala last nite all thanks to u. It came out really well. I specially want to say thanks for ur effort in giving use these easy uncomplicated recipes, its sure improving my cooking skills and my hubby is really happy about it. #feelinglikeaminichef#

  8. chai..this is a variety of what we d calabars call afia efere,, / white soup.. I will surely try it.. but pls pls whats okpei..lol…God bless ur mum and may her gentle soul continuously rest in peace,
    I have some ogiri I bought and have noyt known what to use it for ..ill use it for this.. but please what other things do u use ogiri in or for?

    • Hi Wofai! Okpei is the Ibo version of iru (fermented locust beans). Most local ingredient shops should have it. Ogiri is also another version of fermented locust beans used by Ibos as well in almost every Ibo soup -oha soup, Ofe onugbu (bitter leaf soup) some folks use it in abacha, I use it in combination with okpei in almost every local soup including Edikaikong and Afang.

  9. […] food didn’t come as a suprise to my family because my Mum Clara Chukwuma was a great cook and from my above story, you can tell I have it in my […]

  10. Ngozi says:

    The way you wrote about your mum brought tears to my eyes. The things we pass on to our children without realising how much of it they imbibe. I like your combination of the two types of ogiri, I will try it soon. Well done and God bless you for honouring your mother.

  11. Great me says:

    Nne, it is well. I am so sorry for your loss. I cried when reading about your mom, God will keep comforting you. Thank you for keeping her legacy. I will cook this food this weekend. Thank you dear.

    • Awwww…thanks so much!
      I appreciate your comments, don’t cry oh! At least I have stopped physically. My heart still hurts though, can’t help that one, do try the recipe and let me know how it goes. Da’lu!

  12. uzoamaka Egbuniwe Chukwudebe says:

    hello nwannem. I am from onitsha. May the gentle soul of ur lovely mum rest in perfect peace. I am going to try making ofe nsala the way clara made hers. keep up the good work .

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