First off… Let me quickly brag about my culinary expertise, or cooking skills as some of you would have me put it. I’m a chef extraordinaire. But if there’s one thing I love to brag more about, it’s my eating skills! I can literally eat anything. So far it’s food, let’s go there.
Late last month, I had the chance to taste 3 different Asian meals – one Indian and two Pakistani dishes- and it just made me more appreciative of our Nigerian dishes. Of the 3 Asian dishes I tried, only one caught my fancy. They call it Biryani. It’s actually Pakistani version of jollof rice to me. On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it 6/10. But I’d share my experience with Karahi and Biryani with you guys later.
Today, we go together into the kitchen of my Igbo brethren from Eastern Nigeria. Igbo Kwenu o! I’ve had cause to enjoy different Igbo soups in my short eating life, ranging from Ofe aku to Ofe owerri to Ofe nsala; but this Oha soup always always tastes spectacular. It leaves me licking my fingers and wanting more everytime. Little did I know that it was very easy to cook too. A little research here and there and trust me, I’m sure this Christmas is gonna be lit.
Here’s what I found out. You don’t need much to make this lovely soup. The ingredients are basically
- Vegetable: Oha leaves (please don’t ask me for the English name of this vegetable. I looked all over the internet, can’t find it! It has one botanical name like that but… who cares… Oha is Oha abeg)
- 8 small cocoyam tubers
- 3 cooking spoons Red Palm Oil
- Assorted Beef: Includes best cut, shaki (cow tripe)
- Assorted Fish: Dry Fish and Stock Fish
- Chilli pepper, salt and crayfish (to taste)
- 2 Stock cubes
- 1 teaspoon Ogiri Igbo (optional)
See, nothing ghen ghen🙅.
Let me quickly mention that there is this myth that if you cut the Oha leaves with knife, it will turn out bitter in the soup. I don’t know how true it is and I’m not sure I want to be the one to find out😀. They say it’s best to just tear the leaves into small pieces with one’s hands. I can’t wait to get into the kitchen already!
But before you start cooking the Oha Soup, it’s important to
- grind the crayfish and pepper and set aside.
- pound the cocoyam: Wash and boil the cocoyam corms till soft. Remove the peels and use a mortar and pestle to pound the corms to a smooth paste.
Now to the soup proper!
- Boil the shaki (cow tripe), stock fish and dry fish in 1 litre of water till they are well done. First sign of a done shaki is that the cuts will start curling on itself.
- Wash the beef and add to the pot of shaki etc. and continue cooking. When the meat is done, add 2 stock cubes and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the pepper, ogiri Igbo and ground crayfish and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the cocoyam paste in small lumps and then the palm oil.
- Cover the pot and leave to cook on high heat till all the cocoyam lumps have dissolved. You can add more water if you feel that the soup is too thick.
- Add the oha leaves and leave to cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add salt to taste, stir and the soup is ready!
My people, in the words of a Great Nollywood Elder, Pete Edochie, “He who knows how to cook must find he who knows how to eat”. So for all of you that will be cooking Oha soup this season, remember to holler at your boy o! I’m sure I can’t have enough of it. I prefer Garri(eba) or pounded yam. I don’t really like amala but I can manage Semolina sha. And even if it’s fufu, feel free to invite me over. I’d take the next Uber straight down to your house.
I remain your wonderful cook and eater!