Palm fruit, which is also known as Banga and is used in making Banga Soup, remains one of Nigeria’s most common food products. In fact, not just the fruit but all parts of the plant are useful in one way or the other and Palm oil is of course the most visible and commercial product of the Banga (palm) tree.
Palm oil which is gotten from the flesh of palm (banga) fruit is used to prepare a popular delicacy called “Banga Soup (Ofe-Akwu).
Banga soup (Ofe-Akwu) is a special dish from Delta state. It is commonly enjoyed by the people of Urhobos and Itsekiri of Nigeria.
It is called different names by different ethnic groups for example: The West/Yoruba call it obe eyin, Eastern part refer it to ofe akwu,Itsekiri call it obey ekpo, the Balyesans named it lii fulou or luu fiai and the Akwa –Ibom/Cross River call it efere abak/atama.
While the neighboring countries like Cameroon referred it to as Mbanga soup while Ghanaians named it abenkwan.
The soup is made from palm fruit juice which are extracted through pounding the nuts with mortal and pestle. (See image below).
Recipe for Banga Soup (Ofe-Akwu)
– Palm kernel nuts
– Yellow pepper
– Seasoning (seasoning cubes, tyko, rogojie, obeletientien)
– Beef meat/ goat/fish
– Stick of Oburunbebe
Method of Preparation
1. Boil palm kernel nuts for 25 minutes
2. Check the palm kernel if it soft, pour out the water and extract the oil by pounding the nuts with mortar and pestle. After then add some water to it , stir it and leaves it for some minutes
3. Pour the extracted content into a pot and boil for 30 minutes
4. Pound the pepper, tyko, rogojie, sprinkle few leaves of obeletientien. Add all to the soup, pinch of native salt and seasoning cubes.
5. Break the oburun-bebe stick into two and drop half of the stick in the soup, these spices give it a great aroma and taste.Add boiled meat (assorted, Pomo, snail, periwinkle and boil for about 10 minutes.
6. At this point, the soup becomes thick.Then remove the oburunbebe( brown stick) Keep it for another use.
7. The soup can be served with starch, fufu or eba.
The soup is best preserved by warming it in native pot.Inability to get all the species it can be cooked ordinarily with stockfish, snails.
10 Health Benefits of Banga Soup (Ofe-Akwu)
1. Researches showed that consumption of palm kernel juice in soup such as banga contains magnesium with combination vitamin B6 appears to be efficacious to reduce the effect of premenstrual syndrome symptoms such as insomnia, weight gain, bloating, leg swelling and breast tenderness.
2. It also contains vitamin E which is a powerful natural anti-oxidants that help in protection against cancer and guarantees to give your skin a fresher look and lowers your cholesterol level, thus protecting against heart diseases.
This vitamin also prevent cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.
3. Palm oil in banga soup is very rich in vitamin K that plays important role in blood clot. It is essential for building strong bones and prevents heart disease.
4. The vitamin K , which contains antioxidant present in palm kernel Juice prevents cancer.
5. Magnesium content in palm kernel juice play important role in over 300 enzymatic reactions with the body including the metabolism of food and synthesis of fatty acids and proteins.
6.Vitamin K properties contributes to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Meanwhile, Vitamin K also help to improve insulin sensitivity.
7. Magnesium is involved in neuromuscular transmission and the activity of muscle relaxation. No wonder after consuming a plate of banga soup there is general body relaxation……… Smiles!
8. Palm kernel juice also contain Vitamins A that is essential for healthy vision and may slow down retinal function in people with retinitis pigmentosa.
9. Vitamin A is also ensure healthy growth of the bone; the state of health of the reproduction and immune systems. It also helps the skin and mucous membranes repel bacteria and viruses more effectively.
10. In the elderly, intake of banga soup made with palm kernel juice helps to prevent the prevalent of insulin resistance (diabetes), coronary heart disease( heart failure, abnormal heart rhythm), metabolic syndrome and osteoporosis.
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