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NIGERIAN TRADITIONAL DELICACY: OKOHO SOUP

Okoho is the main traditional food of the Idoma people of Benue state, Nigeria. It is made from the plant Cissus populnea belonging to the family Amplidaceae. The soup is made from the Okoho stick which is very slimy after preparation. It is usually prepared with bush meat (such as grass-cutter, alligator etc). The okoho stick is referred to as Ajara or Orogbolo by the Yoruba tribe. The Hausa call it Dafura. Okoho soup is the most respected and demanded food in all Idoma events which includes; weddings, burial ceremonies, birthdays and other festivals. The soup is also highly medicinal and also known for its ability to aid digestion.

INGREDIENTS

Okoho plant, dry fish, fresh pepper, locust bens, melon (egusi), onions, crayfish, stock cubes, dried bush meat/beef, and salt.

COOKING PROCEDURE

Wash and peel the white layer of the Okoho stem by scraping the body gently with a knife, peel the okoho into very thin strands and remove the rope-like layer. Discard the hard stick in the middle. Wrap the bunch together and soak in a bowl for about 15 minutes. Thereafter, squeeze and press the sap from the strand until you obtain a very thick and shiny liquid from the strand. Remove the strands from the liquid and set aside.

The bush meat or beef for this delicacy should be parboiled with onions, ground pepper, stock cube and salt. When the meat is halfway boiled, pound your locust beans to become smooth and then add to the pot. Add dry fish as well and allow to cook for an extra 20 minutes.

Grind your egusi together with crayfish until very smooth. Put inside a bowl; add hot water to make the paste and start kneading till the egusi oil starts coming out. Cut and mold the kneaded egusi into balls. Carefully drop them into pot on fire and allow it to cook for a few minutes. Carefully remove the egusi balls and meat from the pot with a cooking spon and set aside.

Then add the main ingredient, the thick okoho liquid into the boiling broth and set the heat on low for 10 minutes. Use your spoon or cooking broom to turn your soup, stir for about 5 minutes. Add your meat and molded egusi balls, stir together for few minutes before turning off the heat. Your favorite Okoho soup can be best served with pounded yam. It can also be served with any swallow (fufu, semo, eba, wheat, pupuru etc) of your choice. Bon appetite!

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