from: Western Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering
This recipe, which is popular in Nigeria and its neighbors, uses ogbono (sometimes spelled agbono, and also called apon) as the soup thickener. Ogbono is the kernels (whole or crushed) of the bush mango, or wild mango tree (Irvingia gabonensis or Irvingia wombolu), which is native to the tropical Atlantic coast region of Africa. Nearer the equator, in Cameroon and Gabon, ogbono goes by the names etima, odika, or dika. (See: Beef in Wild Mango Kernel Sauce.) Packaged ogbono or apon (whole or crushed) is available in African import grocery stores outside of Africa. Ogbono may be the most powerful of all African soup thickeners; it is best to add it to the soup in small amounts, while stirring to avoid making lumps, until the desired consistency is obtained.
What you need
- one pound meat (beef, lamb, or goat) or chicken; cut into bite-sized pieces
- cayenne pepper or red pepper
- one cup palm oil, or any cooking oil
- two or three tomatoes, peeled (if desired) and chopped
- one chile pepper, cleaned and chopped
- one onion, finely chopped
- one-half cup ogbono, crushed
- two Maggi® cubes dissolved in water, or a spoonful or two of Maggi® sauce
- one dozen okra pods, ends removed, whole or chopped (optional)
- one piece dried, salted, or smoked fish; de-boned and cleaned -- or -- one cup dried shrimp or prawns, whole or crushed (optional)
- a large bunch spinach leaves, or any greens (bitterleaf, collards, kale, turnip greens, etc.) [it may be a good idea to parboil the greens before using them in the soup] (optional)
What you do
- Rub the meat with the cayenne pepper and let it stand for about an hour.
- In a large pot, bring a few cups of water to a boil. Add the meat and cook it for several minutes. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer.
- In a skillet, heat most of the oil and fry the tomato, chile pepper, and onion until they are tender.
- Add the fried vegetables and the Maggi® cube water to the meat. Cover and continue to simmer on low heat.
- Heat the remaining oil in the skillet, stir in the ogbono, and fry it for a few minutes, stirring constantly to form a smooth paste.
- Add the ogbono paste to the meat and vegetable mixture. Stir to avoid forming lumbs.
- Add the okra and dried fish, shrimp, or prawns (if desired). Cover and cook a few minutes more. Add water if needed to obtain the desired consistency.
- Add spinach leaves or other greens. Adjust seasoning. Cover and cook until all is tender.
- Serve with Fufu, or boiled yams, or potatoes.
If you can't obtain ogbono, you can achieve a similar mucilaginous quality by adding more chopped okra, or substituting crushed egusi seeds, or crushed pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas). You might use crushed pine nuts (as are used in pesto), or even crushed walnuts or crushed macadamia nuts.
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