Art of Banga Soup.
There is absolutely nothing that can be compared to its taste, made from its unique ingredient for without which it can be made. It leaves your taste bud very jumpy even though it is a local dish, anyone from anywhere can enjoy it. I remember the first time I tasted it, I was so eager to taste it over and over again plus I think I actually ate the soup with rice five times that day because I had lost interest in eating any other food. To satisfy your curiosity, I am referring to a soup known as ‘Banga’. This soup is mostly eaten among indigenes of Delta State, Nigeria.
The soup can be cooked in different ways depending on the individual or tribe that wants to cook it but it is very common in Delta State. The way I learned how to cook the soup is what I will be writing on. Before the soup is cooked, there are several key ingredients required for soup, which are Palm Kernel, Ground pepper, Bitter Leaf, Egusi, Seasoning (Knorr cube), Crayfish, Stock fish, local roasted fish, Salt, Meat and Pomo.
Apart from the ingredients, you also need to get your pots, sieve with big holes, mortar and pestle. The process of cooking this soup requires some technicalities I must carefully note.
The first step is to carefully select your palm kernel, wash it because of the minor dirt attached to the body most especially the ones gotten directly from the farm then put it into a pot, after which you add water into the pot only a little above the palm kernel, put on the gas and let it boil for about 20-30 minutes.
While the palm kernel is on fire, you can be washing the Bitter leaf, Roasted fish, Stock fish, Meat, Pomo and Bitter leaf before the palm kernel boils. After washing the meat, you can also start boiling your meat and pomo, allow to boil for about 5 minutes. For the roasted fish and stock fish, you soak them inside warm water for few minutes until soft before washing them.
Once the palm kernel is boiled (you will know if it has boiled when it is soft, that is, the back of it is soft), you remove it from the pot and put into the mortar. Get a clean pot you want to use to boil the soup and put the sieve inside the pot; you put the pot with the sieve beside the mortar where the palm kernel is then get your pestle and start to pound the palm kernel while it is still hot. You pound until the flesh begins to leave the nut of the palm kernel. After pounding, you add warm water into the mortar of pounded palm kernel (small amount of water) then squeeze till you have the quantity of juice that you need for your soup.
If your palm kernel juice is ready, put on your gas cooker and allow the palm kernel juice to boil for few minutes after which you add your ground pepper, Egusi, salt, Knorr cube and meat water then leave to boil for an extra 5 minutes. Five minutes later, add washed local roasted fish, stock fish, meat, pomo and bitter leaf then leave to boil for about 2 minutes, taste the soup to be sure that the seasoning was added appropriately, if not add the missing ingredient and leave to boil. Egusi is an optional ingredient to the soup, also bitter leaf. If you have tasted the soup and everything is okay and all ingredients have been properly added, turn off the gas.
The soup is best served hot and can be used for Garri, Rice, Fufu, Yam or Pounded yam.
Bibiana Ossai © 2016.