BANGA A.K.A NATIVE SOUP...
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
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!