Today as I sat to type this, childhood memories flooded into my heart. Lovely memories of not too long ago, of my great grand mum and this great delicacy of my people. I know that my title of this soup would cause a little stir in my readers but the truth is that this delicacy is really a traditional delicacy of the Itsekiri’s and Urhobo’s (Uvwie included) of Warri.
Growing up, my great grand mum was from Uvwie andI had early memories of I, my older sister and my cousins going over during holidays to her house nearly everyday while spending the hols with our grand parents. This woman who was almost a hundred years then was so smart and strong. she would cook this wonderful delicacy with catfish (the pond mud real ones then) and make starch.
She will serve the soup into small and big native mud pots and dry the soup. Then place these on the rafter top in her mud kitchen more than 20 plates of soup and plates of starch on the flour covered. We knew the little ones were for us and the bigger ones were for adults who came also. Sometimes she was there, at other times she would go to her farm. But the joy of it all was, we consume this meal knowing it was prepared with so much love and when she passed on when I was about 8years old, I missed her. But then I always carried in my memory that love which I also so my mum prepare this soup with so much care with, which I do. Like every real Urhobo or Itsekiri, this soup means a lot to us and we prepare it with care and love.
Banga soup can be prepare with fresh or dried fish, fresh or dried meat and in different ways but depending on what you are using. Most times fresh fish is used, then fresh prawn or fresh shrimps, periwinkle craps(optional is added. Fresh assorted beef can be added to this also. Then you can also use dried meat or bush meat with dried fish or dried fish alone and in this case, crayfish would now be used. for dried meat or fish sometimes you can add okra.
- Fresh fish
- Meat (1kg)
- Crayfish (optional) depending type of banga soup(dried smoked fish or dried smoked meat.
- Fresh prawn/shrimps [oporo](one cup)
- Fresh Palm Fruits (Banga)
- Medium sized dry fish / smoked fish (1)
- Red scotch bonnet pepper “Ata rodo” (8)
- Atiako (1 tbsp) (depending on soup size)
- Irugege (1 teaspoon)
- Oburunbebe Stick (Banga stick) (1)
- Dried Beletietien leaves (half cup) or
- Thinly sliced bitter leaves (half cup)
- Fresh lime leaves
- 3 cubes of knorr
- Periwinkles (1)
- Salt to taste.
Step1 Boil palm kernel nut for 30-45mins, let it cook very well. Till water is dark and smell can be perceived in the kitchen.
Step2 Check the palm kernel if soften, pour out water and extract the oil by pounding the nut with a pestle on a mortar, after which, add some water wash and sieve into a pot. Continue till nut is clean of all fruit extract.
Step3 Put the extract which in a pot on the stove and boil for 30-45 minutes.
Step4 Pound the pepper, atiako, rogojie, sprinkle few leaves of obeletietien, and the slice the lime fresh tender lime leaves into it. Lime leaves has and add wonderful aroma to this soup. Especially if using fresh fish and shrimps or prawn. It helps to minimize/ if not totally eliminate the slimy taste of the fish.
add all other ingredients to the soup, add salt and seasoning, break the oburun-bebe stick into 2 and drop ½ of the stick in the soup, these spices gives it a great aroma and taste.
Step5 Add the meats/fish/beef, snail, periwinkle and boil for 15-20mins, after this, check seasoning if tasty., the soup is ready. Most people think Banga soup need to be thick before you put off the stove, no. Its only agricultural palm fruit (banga) that is naturally thick when used for this soup but I like my mum and great grand mum love to use the native banga which is light, then we thicken the soup by serving into native clay small serving pots and dry on the stove. The taste of this pots mix with the taste of the soup is what makes this delicacy what it is.
This soup is served with starch or Eba.
For starch, buy fresh extracted starch, dissolve with water into a deep frying pan or pot. add a little palm oil, keep stirring till it start forming. Then stir harder to avoid it having what we term seeds in it. stir and keep turning till it is light yellowish in colour. Voila! your starch is ready.
Have a lovely eating experience. Remember ladies what my mum taught me “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, this is because men love good food. So try this today and you have got the secret weapon to your man’s heart,cheerio!!