What have you been eating lately? Beans? Plantain? Yam? Rice? Same same staples?
Have you tried Ukwa? …Lately, I have been all about some of Nigerian whole foods; beans, yam, sweet potatoes, lots of vegetables; my regulars being water leaves, fluted pumpkin leaves and greens and of course Mangoes…!
I mean, I was at the market a few days ago and mangoes where all over the place! You could probably get a basket of like 50 mangoes or more for N500.
So please, when next you are buying mangoes from the road side, price it well abeg!
…And now, Ukwa is on that list of whole foods for me! My mum came home last week with some Ukwa and said she had bought it because of me.
She chopped some onion into it, added stock cubes and cooked it until soft, later adding salt. We weren’t going to have it for dinner that day so she put it in the freezer (more like in the fridge, if you know what i mean with Naija light/power situation!).
It is super whole food in my dictionary! I am talking the red palm oil that is taken down the tree in a bunch like so…
…And all that is done is that the “fruits” are boiled and the oil is extracted from the flesh.
The oil is reddish orange in colour and would not agree to any white stuff being call palm oil without a definitive word like “refined” or “processed”!
Our grand parents, great grand parents and ancestors were particularly strong and healthy, lived long and aged gracefully while eating a lot of whole foods including red palm oil which was most widely used for adding in soups, stews, frying and everything else including just simply pouring over soft boiled or roasted yams or plantain, sprinkling some salt and dry pepper and sending it “home”! Yum!
So i added some palm oil into a pot, chopped some onion and fried until onions were a little brown and scooped the Ukwa into the palm oil, stirred and allowed to heat through and this made one tasty pot of Ukwa and i had it for lunch two days in a row!
It was oh so delish and I went back to the seller and bought double the quantity mum got! So here goes a recipe for some seriously tasty Ukwa.
I threw in some water leaves at the end of the cooking time because any opportunity to have some vegetables is good but this is completely optional. Enjoy!
- 1.2kg Peeled Ukwa (About 1 derica)
- 1.25 Liters seasoned Chicken Stock
- 1 medium Onion (About 180 grams, finely chopped and split in half)
- 2 small Rodo/Scotch Bonnet Peppers (Chopped)
- 6 tablespoons Red Palm Oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 handfuls of Water Leaves; Optional.(thoroughly washed and roughly chopped)
- Wash Ukwa thoroughly, about 3 to 4 times to remove dirt and sand particles. Drain and transfer to a medium pot or saucepan then add chicken stock, one half of the chopped onion and all of the rodo. Bring to a boil on high then reduce heat to medium and simmer until Ukwa softens, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, pour palm oil into a small pot or sauce pan and add the second half of the chopped onion. Place on medium heat and fry until onion is slightly brown but not burnt. Once Ukwa is soft, pour the palm oil and onion into the pot of Ukwa and stir to combine. Taste before adding salt, adjusting as needed. Stir in water leaves if using and immediately take off the heat