Nigeria is famous for mouth-watering delicacies. There is hardly anyone who has not heard about Naija’s party Jollof or the wonderful Efo riro. Another addition is this amazing sweetness from the southern part of Nigeria: Banga soup. Banga soup is made out of palm nut extract and it is most popular among the Delta/Urhobo and Igbo people. When it comes to Banga soup, its method of preparation varies according to each tribe and even down to its ingredients as well. There is the Igbo version of Banga soup called the ofe akwu, it favors ngwu or scent leaves, the Efik version called abak atama and oghwoamiedi, the Urhobo version.
Banga soup is rich in taste as well as in budget. A banga soup pot can contain a kind of protein or a different mix of them. I prefer mine with the likes of ponmo, tripe, beef, intestine, smoked turkey or chicken, etc., yes, I am a foodie. Banga soup goes very well with starch or eba but also with any swallow you favor. Since it is a traditional soup, there is a special pot used in serving it, the Evwere, which gives it a thick richer taste.
Without further ado, I am going to teach you how to make the Delta version of Banga soup because it is my favorite. There are quite a bunch of herbs and spices needed in making an authentic pot of Banga so we should make a list of the ingredients needed;
· 1 cup of fresh palm nuts
· 1 kg of chicken
· Pieces of smoked turkey
· 1 medium-sized fresh fish of your choice
· Assorted meat of your choice
· 1 cup of crayfish/shrimps
· 2 pieces of dried fish, preferably catfish
· 1 tablespoon of grounded prawns
· 3 tablespoons of grounded pepper
· 1 medium-sized chopped onions
· ½ cup of crushed obeletientien leaves or dried bitter leaves
· 1 tablespoon of Cameroon pepper
· 1 oburunbebe stick
· Maggi cubes (I recommend knorr or Gino max)
· Salt to taste
Now, let us get down to the real deal. Firstly, you would want to clean, gut, and wash your fresh fish carefully. If you prefer using catfish, then I would advise you to pour hot water on it to get rid of its slime. This is one of my favorite parts of cooking, I get to taste chunks of meat as I cook…I already told you guys I am a foodie. Okay, so you should wash your meat first and then boil them together, it is better to start with the tougher ones and add the softer ones later. Don’t forget to boil the offal separately if you are using any. I usually boil my smoked turkey first, and then add the chicken a little while later.
Of course, I add salt and a little pinch of Cameroon pepper. I like my meat soft but not too much. So when they are tender, I add the stockfish and the blended scotch bonnet (atarodo), and the Cameron pepper. Allow it to boil together for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the smoked fish. Once you have done this, reduce the heat of your stove and allow it to boil for 2 minutes.
Get a bigger pot, pour the extract from the palm into it. Add some of the stock from the meat to it. When you have done this, increase the heat of the stove to a medium level. Stir it with a spoon as the soup thickens. Never use a thickener for it because it would affect the taste of the soup and you would not want that, right?
And yes, right from this point you can not cover the pot till it is fully cooked.
Allow it to cook for 10 to 15 minutes. It is time to add grounded crayfish, dried crayfish, grounded pepper, and salt and orunbembe stick. When adding salt, you must be mindful of the saltiness of the seasoning cubes you use. There could be enough salt in them already. Allow the soup to thicken a bit more before adding your fresh fish, reduce the heat and leave the soup to boil for 6 to 7 minutes. Pour into the soup the meat you boiled. When they are properly mixed, there should be palm oil covering the broth. You can reduce some of it if you find it too much.
Lastly, add your Obeletientien leaves to it. Leave it to simmer on residual heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
And there you have it, an original Delta Banga soup. I am sure you would love to try this out in your kitchen sometime, let me know if you do and I might just drop more African delicacies to win your way into boo's heart or better still give yourself a treat.