Banga soup, also known as palm nut soup, is one of the favourite delicacies of the people of the Niger Delta, particularly the Urhobos, Isokos and of course the Ijaws.
It is very easy to prepare and packed full of flavour from the vegetables and spices used in making it.
You can have this soup from your kitchen to the table in 50 minutes.
The delicacy is similar to Ofe Akwu recipe (Ibo style) but they use different spices.
Banga soup is best eaten with starch but some take it with pounded yam or Eba.
The recipe for banga soup is now very easy to cook thanks to ready-made canned palm nut fruit. Getting banga spice can be difficult if you are living outside Nigeria but a friend of mine, Karo said it can be prepared without the spice, and you can add a little ‘something’.
The little something here is a good quality pepper soup spice like my active kitchen pepper soup spice.
1 Banga spice: you can buy a ready mix or simply make your own by blending Ataiko and Irugeje in a dry mill)
2 Beletete leaves: you can substitute with dried basil, bitter leaf or dried scent leaves.
3 Oburunbebe stick: using this is optional but it gives more taste to your meal.
4 Fresh catfish :Any other fresh fish would work for this recipe too. It could be tilapia, river fish or any other fish, either fresh or dried.
5 Fresh shrimps: this can also be referred to as lobster.
6 Ground crayfish: makes the food tastier and more spicy
7 Perewinkle: which is optional
8 Seasoned cube
HOW TO COOK BANGA SOUP
Season assorted beef and dried fish with salt, onions, seasoning cubes, add water and bring to boil till tender.
Put your pot on a the fire, add your banga into the pot with a large amount of water with the banga totally submerged. Leave to boil for at least 20 minutes, depending on the quantity.
Once the banga is soft, pound to extract the oil from the palm, add water to get your desired quantity, then squeeze to get your oil into your desired pot for cooking.
Put the extracted banga on fire to boil for about 20 minutes, addbitterleaf and beletete. At this point, do not cover. At this point, you will see the palm fruit extract bubbling and starting to thicken, and the oil floating on top of the soup.
Add assorted beef, periwinkle and cook for another 10-15 minutes.
Add Banga spice, oburunbebe stick, ground crayfish and cook for another 10 minutes.
The Banga spice adds a very rich aroma to the soup and you can just smell it. Check for salt and seasoning, dilute the soup with reserved stock if it is too thick. (Stir in between to avoid soup sticking to the bottom of the pot).
Add fresh fish and shrimps to the soup, leave on fire for another 10-12 minutes. (if you need to stir at any point after you have added the fresh fish, you will need to be careful or you can simply hold the pan on its 2 handles and give it a little twirl).
At this point, your soup is ready to be served with starch, Eba, fufu, pounded yam or any other swallow of your choice.
Banga is best served in the Urhobo native pot popularly known as Ewere.