Several countries of Africa are known for several soup delicacies, from Nigeria to Sierra Leone, Cameroon and others, we have soups such as egusi, fisherman’s soup, groundnut soup, etc. Among these delicious delicacies is a special Nigerian soup; Banga.
Banga soup, which is also known as Ofe Akwu has been a most consumed and famous dish in Eastern part of Nigeria. In recent times, Google reports have shown a high search for banga soup and this indicates the high interest of people in this soup.
Banga soup is commonly enjoyed by the People of Delta, mostly by the Urhobos and Itsekiris and, it unarguably remains a south-south delicacy that has crossed the shores of its river.
Banga soup is basically made with palm fruits and banga leaves called beletientien.
The Urobo and Isoko people usually prepare the soup with fresh fish probably because water bodies surround their comunities.
Banga soup is served with starch by the Niger Delta people, but can also be consumed with eba, semo, wheat, or fufu (akpu). These are the most suitable foods to eat with Banga soup if you want to have a better experience of the deliciousness.
Banga soup is referred to as Ofe Akwu where Ofe means soup and Akwu means palm fruit and is mainly used as stew. People tend to prepare this particular recipe due to its nutritious content.
Ingredients for banga soup
Banga soup is gotten from extracting oil
from palm kernel then using ingredients like
Fish, Beef, vegetable(scent leaves or dried and crushed bitter leaves), onions, ground crayfish,
Salt and Chilli pepper( to taste), Ogiri Okpei(Iru), Stock cubes.
In addition to the ingredients, spices used for making banga soup may include:
Oburunbebe stick: This brown herbal stick makes a big difference in the taste and aroma of the Banga soup. It is usually added towards the end of the soup making process and left for 10 minutes, so that the flavour is infused into the soup.
Aidan Fruit (Uyayak, Tyko oryanghanyanghan): The skin of this fruit is used for preparing Banga soup. It is ground to powder and added to soups.
The scientific name is Tetrapleura tetraptera.
Rohojie: This is a tiny brown seed that is ground or pounded along with the Aidan fruit to give the banga soup its unique flavour and taste.
All these spices can be found at the local markets or African stores if you live outside Nigeria.
How to Prepare the Delicious Nigerian Banga soup
- To prepare banga soup, boil the palm fruit, till soft and then pounding in a mortar to extract the juice. After pounding, you add hot water and squeeze the chaff to extract more oil.
- Pour the juice in a pot, add meat, tiko and several selected smoked fish varieties which could include cray fish which is optional.
- Add pepper and allow it to boil, fresh pepper adds to and even multiply the soup flavour.
- Add your desired banga spices to the soup in tablespoonfuls.
- Allow it to boil and also taste the spices in the palm fruit extract.
Add some seasoning cubes and salt.
- Once the soups has thickened a little, you then add the fresh or dried fish. Also add periwinkles and other seafood of choice.
- Lower the heat after, sprinkle dried bitter leaf roughly in the soup and cover to cook for a while.
Still with low heat, let the soup cook until it is thick. After this, your soup is done and you can enjoy Banga soup with starch, eba or fufu.
Banga soup is so special in Nigeria today due to its nutritional benefits which include:
- It’s rich Vitamin K content which plays an important role in blood clot. It aids in building strong bones and prevent heart disease.
Vitamin K also aids in preventing Alzheimer’s disease and aids in preventing prevalent of insulin resistance which could result in increasing blood sugar, heart failure and metabolic syndrome.
Consumption of palm kernel juice in soup such as banga which has a magnesium with vitamin B6 combination reduces the effect of symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Magnesium content in palm fruit plays an important role in the over 200 enzymatic reactions in the body.
Banga soup has vitamin E which is a powerful natural anti-oxidants which help in protection against cancer. This vitamin also prevent Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.
Magnesium also aids in neuromuscular transmission and muscle relaxation.
Palm kernel juice also contains Vitamin A which is essential for healthy vision. It also aid in healthy growth of the bone and helps the skin and mucous membranes repel bacteria and viruses more effectively.
Generally, the usefulness of Banga soup can not be overlooked for it contributes a lot to the health. Its benefits aside those listed above includes that it helps in the lowering of cholesterol level, giving you a smooth and fresh skin, as it helps protect the heart from diseases and prevents cataracts and diabetes.
Have you tasted banga soup before? What do you think of it? Share your opinion with me in the comment section.