Tuesday, 30 April 2013


My Banga Soup recipe is a little bit of this and a little bit of that from all over the place and my friend who watched me cook yesterday was clearly a tad confused, not that i was concerned, it's the finished product that counts and at the end of the day i had 3 near comatose and fully satisfied friends in my house.

Its not your traditional Ofe Akwu recipe, its Banga with seafood (growing up in Port Harcourt, you can't do soup without seafood especially not Banga Soup aka native Soup), its Banga with the Niger Delta Spices and its Banga with Atama Leaves (i'm not Efik or Ibibio but i do cook a lot like them).

Lets start, shall we?

500Grms Seafood Mix (Shrimps, Calamari & Baby Octopus)
1.5Kg Beef, Goat Meat and Kpomo
1Kg Fresh Palm Fruits
1 Cup Crayfish
250Grms Stockfish
1 Dried Catfish
1 Red Onion
1 Oburunbebe Stick
1 Tablespoon Uziza Seed
1 Teaspoon Rogojie
1 Tablespoon Ground Ehuru
3 Seasoning Cubes
Salt & Pepper

Now i know there are a lot of weird sounding spices here, you can go ahead and just ask in the market to Banga Spice Mix and the women will know exactly what you need.

In a mortar, grind the rogojie and uziza seeds together. Its best in a mortar because they are very small and smooth seeds that will very easily evade the blades of your dry mill or  blender. Grind and set aside. Rinse mortar.

Season meat with chopped onion, 1 seasoning cube, salt and pepper and cook together with stockfish until tender then set aside.

While meat is cooking, wash palm fruits and boil for about 15 minutes in salted water or until the flesh is soft and can be torn of the kernel.

Put another 3 cups of water to boil.

Drain and add palm fruit to mortar and pound gently. I know this looks like a lot of work but i really isn't, the skin comes right off and you don't have to work it for more than 5 - 7 minutes.

When you are done pounding, add half of your hot water to the palm fruit in the mortar and allow it sit for about 2 minutes, this will help draw out all the oil from the fruit. If its too hot to touch, you can dot a little cold water into it but not too much because we don't want a watered down juice.

Its time to get dirty! Get your hands in there and squeeze and juice the palm fruits

When you feel you have enough juice, take the chaff and kernels and transfer them into another bowl.

Strain the juice you have in the mortar into a pot and repeat process with the kernel and chaff (which will definitely still have some pulp in it) till you have a clean dry kernel and chaff.

Now of course you don't have to go through this long process if you don't want to. You can just go buy palm concentrate in a can, i hear it tastes about the same but i've never tried it and don't know if i ever will. I like things the old school way mummy taught me. :)

Now, remember your meat? Yeah, its time to get it back on the heat.

As soon as it starts to boil, add crayfish and dried fish and stir and leave for another 2 - 3 minutes.

When it comes back to a boil, pour in all the extracted palm juice and  your ground ehuru, uziza and rogojie seed. Split your stick in half to get right into the essence of it and toss it right into the pot as well.

Believe it or not, your soup needs no more work.

Allow to boil on high heat for 30 - 45 minutes. As it boils it'll continue to reduce and thicken. When the red oil concentrate begins to come to the surface then we are almost done. I do not like to use any thickener for my banga soup, if you must use just a little, even a tablespoon of flour dissolved in half a cup of water can help but do not make it too thick because the soup continues to thicken even after cooking and with every re-heat.

Hope you didn't forget your sea food mix, this is when it is needed.

Toss it all in and allow to cook for 3 minutes.

Add a good pinch of dried atama leaves (too much and your soup gets bitter), stir, taste for seasoning and allow cook for another minute then take of the heat.

Serve with pounded yam, eba or even rice.

Enjoy! Food, glorious food!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


You're tired, you're not in the mood to wash pots and pans, and you want something healthy? This is it...

500grms Potatoes
6 Chicken Breasts (with Skin and Bone In)
1/2 Cup White Wine
3 Medium Size Lemons (2 Sliced and 1 Juiced)
1 Portobello Mushroom
1 Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
4 Cloves of Garlic (Minced)
1 Small Onion (Chopped Roughly)
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
100grms Green Beans (Trimmed)
Salt & Black Pepper

Season chicken before hand with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic and ginger and set aside for about 30 minutes. 

Pre-heat oven to 450F.

Grease a casserole dish and set aside.

Whisk together remaining oil, wine, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Arrange the bottom of the casserole dish with lemon slices.

Toss beans in the marinade, remove with tongs and layer over the lemons. Add Onions. Toss potatoes in marinade and arrange in casserole dish.

Next toss the chicken in the marinade  and arrange on top of the potatoes, skin side up.

Lightly rinse mushroom, you don't want to over do it because portobello mushrooms are very delicate. i love them for their deep woody taste. (I ate most of it before it even hit the plate). Tear it up and place in all the open spaces.

Pour over any remaining marinade and pop it into the oven.

Allow to cook for 1 hour, take out chicken and check if your potatoes are cooked. If the need a little more time pop them back in for another 15 minutes.

Feel free to peel the skin of the chicken right off after before eating if you like, but just leave it on for the cooking process as it helps to keep the chicken moist while in the oven.

Enjoy with a side salad...

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


I used to say that sweet and savoury had no business being on the same plate, not because id tried it and hated it but because i just couldn't imagine the struggle of flavours. friends would laugh and point out that i like sweet and sour meals and i'd say that was different, the only exception. Then i had a Hawaiian pizza with pineapple... Lets just say i'm about to start cooking with a lot of fruits...

Mango season is here!!!

I don't like a lot of fruits but i like mangoes, came across this recipe and thought to try it out and it was delish! The right combination of savoury and sweet... whats not to love?

This recipe serves 2...or 1 very very hungry fellow. :)

250 Grms Boneless Chicken Breasts (Cut Into Strips)
1 Ripe Mango (Peeled and Chopped)
1 Carrot (Sliced Into Thin Strips)
1 Cup Spinach (Cut Into Ribbons)
1 Spring Onion (Chopped)
Green and Red Bell Peppers (Sliced)
250 Grms Rice Vermicelli Noodles
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Sweet Chilli Sauce
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

Get about 4 cups of water boiling for your rice noodles.

Lightly season your chicken with a bit of salt, ginger and garlic while you deal with the other cutting and slicing business or allow it to sit for 30 minutes before you begin to cook if you decide to cut the long process short by getting a stir fry veggie mix bag...

Add a tablespoon of oil to a pan and stir fry chicken for about 5 minutes or until it begins to brown, take it out and set aside.

Add the remaining oil then add spring onions and mango. Fry together for about 2 minutes.

Your water must have boiled by now, add noodles to a bowl and cover with hot water and set aside for just 2 minutes.

Add remaining vegetables to pan and stir fry for another minute.

Add soy sauce and sweet chili sauce, stir and taste for seasoning. Season lightly so we don't mask the flavours of the mangoes and fresh vegetables.

Add chicken back into the pan.

Drain rice noodles, add to the stir fry in the pan and toss together...

Voila, an easy lunch/dinner in less than 20 minutes.