The Idoma people of Benue state are known for their love for good food, as there is an annual food festival in Benue State to celebrate women and the various traditional foods. Most popular among their delicacies is the Okoho soup which is made with the peculiar Okoho plant, bush meat and many other ingredients. Okoho soup is best eaten with pounded yam, amala. semo, eba, etc.
Okoho soup, a special delicacy of the Idoma people, is obtained from a plant called Okoho in the area. Okoho plant otherwise called olicho in some parts of Idoma land especially among the Edumoga people, is an herbaceous vine with an extensive stem that grows naturally as a wild plant in most parts of the Savanah belt, especially the North-central region. Botanically called Cissus Populnea and belong to the plant family, Amplicidaceae. It is also known as okoho by the Ibos and Igalas, while it is known as ajara or orogbulo among the Yoruba tribe. In its early stage, the stem, which is the part used for the soup looks greenish and very tender, but it turns whitish grey at maturity when it is ready for use. The wild vine is available all year round, but much more harvested in the dry season, a phenomenon that can be attributed to the fact that the stem becomes fully ripe at that period and access to them in the bush becomes easier as a result of bush burning that gets rid of the thick bushes.
It can be said to be the foremost in the class of draw soups that form part of the delicacies of the West African people. One must use the hand to be able to control the tenaciously flowing viscous so that it does not cling to the fingers and flow out of the plate at once. One good thing about Okoho soup is that it does not only serve as a soup that goes with all manner of swallows, it is highly medicinal and also aids digestion such that anyone who suffers constipation can eat it and get relief thereafter.
Okoho soup requirements
- 1 medium size stick or stem of Okoho plant
- Dried fish (medium size) preferably dried cat fish
- seeds of fresh pepper(Tarodo)
- Locust beans 2 balls of 2 varieties(dawadawa and iru)
- Egusi(one cup)
- Onions(one medium size)
- A pinch of crayfish
- 2 maggi cubes for seasoning
- ¼ kilo of beef or dried bush meat.
How To Prepare Okoho Soup
Wash and peel the okoho stem into very thin strands and wrap into a bunch into a medium size bowl of hot water to soak for about 15 minutes. When the water has simmered a bit to be tolerable to the hand, start squeezing the sap from the strand until you achieve a very thick liquid from the strand. Remove the strands from the thick liquid and store the liquid for the soup.
Then parboil the beef or dried meat with the onions, salt and the grinded pepper. When half way cooked, you add the grinded locust beans and the dried fish to cook for about 15 minutes.
Prepare the egusi by blending till very smooth and add the crayfish to it. Thereafter, you add very little water to make a very thick and stiff paste till you can see oil being produced. You may add a pinch of salt to the egusi mixture for taste.
Then carefully drop small balls of this mixture into the boiling broth and cover to steam till they are firm to touch.
Carefully remove the meat, egusi balls and fish and carefully pour in the okoho sap and set the heat on low for about 10 minutes.
Add the meat, egusi and fish and stir briefly and set aside for the pounded yam and soup meal.
Pounded Yam is one of Nigeria’s main solids that accompany delicious soups such as Okoho.
How To Prepare Pounded Yam
Pounded yam is the stretchiest of all the Nigerian fufu recipes that is if it is well prepared. It has the softness of semolina fufu and it is not as hard as cassava fufu.
Peel off the brown outer layer of the yam, slice and wash the white part with lots of clean water. Transfer into a cooking pot and start cooking with just water. Be sure that the sliced yams are almost completely submerged in water.
Cook for ten to fifteen minute then check to see if the yams are soft enough for pounding, you can check with a kitchen fork by piercing. Once the yams are soft enough for pounding you are ready for the pounding part. Be sure that the water is not completely dried because you will need it while pounding the yam.
Sometimes the yam gets very strong during pounding that you will need to add a little water while pounding, you can use ordinary water but the water left after cooking the yam is most suitable.
Pick with a fork and transfer into a mortar then go ahead and pound with a pestle, pound until the yam are seedless and can easily be molded, you can add water and pound until you have a smooth soft pounded yam.
You need to know that the yam used for the preparation of pounded yam must have stayed for at least three months on the surface, we don’t use newly harvested yams for the preparation of pounded.
Items Needed For pounded Yam
- Tubers of yam
- Cooking pot
- A kitchen Knife
Okpehe also known as fermented African mesquite bean is a popular seasoning among the Idomas, Igala and the Igede people of Nigeria. it is a local seasoning / condiment used in soups, stews.
In addition to being umami-rich, fermented foods are rich in live cultures like probiotic yogurts which help the immune system by introducing good, healthy bacteria.
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