OfeOwerri is a favourite meal for the igbos, especially the Imo State part of Nigeria. This is usually prepared with either Uziza and Ugu or Uziza and Ukazi, vegetables found here in Nigeria.
Uziza helps a lot to prevent allergy and running nose. Those who do not eat hot spices can benefit a lot from the use of Uziza to prevent or cure their running nose.
Ugu (pumpkin) leaf is reputed to be highly rich in dietary iron, calcium and magnesium. Research shows that this vegetable has great antioxidant capacities, helping to restore any damage to our cells and skin, protecting our heart and enhancing youth.
It also protects against liver damage caused by agents such as paracetamol and other toxins.
Another unique ingredient used in the preparation of this Igbo delicacy is coco yam. Coco yam is a class in the category of tubers, which are known for the fertility benefits. They are also good sources of Vitamins and mineral manganese. Most importantly, they serve as our daily requirement of carbohydrate.
These vegetables are available in the African food stores, but here in Nigeria, it is gotten raw from the market.
2 medium branches of Ugu leaves
1 medium bunch of Uziza leaves
8 medium pieces of Meat/Chicken
4 medium pieces dried fish (azuokpo)
Stock Fish( okporoko)
1 wrap of Ogiri
1 bunch of Cocoyam
2 tablespoon of dry pepper Dry pepper (ground)
1 cooking spoon Palm Oil
2 litres of Water
Salt to taste
Season the meats and stockfish with salt, ½ cup of the crayfish, 1 tbsp. of dry pepper. Add some snails (if using) . Don’t forget the stockfish head because that is where you get the real stockfishflavor. Pour water to the level of the meats and cook until tender
- HOW TO MAKE THE COCOYAM PASTE
- Wash the Cocoyam thoroughly and boil with the skin on in lots of water for 10 –15 minutes
- When cooked, peel off the skin and pound into a paste. The cocoyam is usually sticky so add a tablespoonful of palm oil. This does 2 things: it keeps the cocoyam from sticking to the mortar and also it enhances the color of the soup.
- Once the meat and stockfish have softened, taste the stock and make any necessary adjustments to the flavor.
- At this stage, add the cocoyam paste in small portions with your cooking spoon or simply mix the ground ‘Achi’ powder with some water in a bowl, stir well and pour into the soup. Reduce the heat and watch the soup thicken. Stir thoroughly to ensure all cocoyam lumps dissolve totally into the soup. The soup could be runny or thick. Or it could be just in-between. Your choice.
- Add the palm oil and washed chunks of dry fish to the soup. (We are adding the dry fish at this stage to prevent it from dissolving in the soup) Part of the thrill is to pick pieces of fish from the soup while eating. Cover the pot and let the soup cook until the oil combines with the soup and looses that raw taste (this takes about 2-5 minutes)
- Stir often if you are using Achi because the Achi may settle at the bottom of the pot and cause the soup to start burning.
- Add the ogiri, the remaining crayfish and dry pepper and stir thoroughly.
- Thoroughly wash the vegetables with cold water. Wash twice or thrice to remove any traces of dust or sand. (it is advisable prefer to wash veggies before they are sliced. That way, vital nutrients won’t be rinsed off. But okazi is basically washed after slicing)
10. Stir after adding the vegetables and allow to simmer on low heat for an extra 5 minutes then turn off the heat.
- Serve with your choice of ‘swallow’ i.e. fufu, pounded yam, plantain flour or eba.
Hmmmm! I just can’t wait to cook this meal this weekend, you can join me if you wish.