Idoma people are found in Benue State of North-Central Nigeria. They are the second largest ethnic group in the state. The Idomas occupy the 9 local government areas of Apa, Agatu, Ado, Obi, Ohimini, Okpokwu, Ogbadibo, Oju, and Otukpo; although, Obi and Oju are principally made up of the Igede tribe.
The Idoma people are known for their love of food. One of the popular delicacies of the people is okoho soup. This soup is known for its sliminess. The major ingredient for the soup is the okoho plant which gives this soup its peculiar taste. Okoho plant is an herbaceous plant with a long stem that usually originates as a wild plant in most parts of the Savannah belt. The stem of the plant is medicinal. It is also said to aid digestion.
Before sharing the recipe for this soup with you, let me add that okoho soup requires a certain skill before it can be enjoyed. This is because it draws very well. Amongst the Idoma, okoho soup is typically served with pounded yam. This soup and its accompaniment is eaten with hand, not fork and knife.
Dried bush meat
Medium size stem of okoho plant
Dried cat fish
Locust beans (dawadawa and iru)
How to Prepare
Rinse the okoho stem to eliminate sand. Peel off the white layer of the stem then strip the stem into very thin strands. Tie up the strands in a bunch and place the bunch in a medium size bowl of hot water. Allow to soak for about 15 minutes. By this time, the hot water would have cooled to a point where it is tolerable to the hand. Now, start squeezing the sap from the strands. When you’ve gotten a very thick liquid from the strand, remove the strands and set the liquid aside for the soup.
Rinse the beef and spice it with onions, seasoning cubes, salt, and dry pepper. After about 15 minutes, add the dried bush meat, the dried cat fish and the grinded locust beans. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Blend the egusi smoothly. Add crayfish and a pinch of salt to the blended egusi. Also add a little water to it. Mix until a thick, oily, stiff paste is formed. Then, gently drop small balls of this mixture into the boiling broth. When all the paste has entered the pot, cover the pot and allow the content to steam till the egusi balls are firm to touch.
At this point, remove the meat, egusi balls and fish with care. Then pour in the okoho sap. Cover the pot and set the heat on low. Cook for about 10 minutes before adding the meat, egusi balls, and fish. Stir briefly and allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Enjoy with pounded yam.
Featured image source: Legit NG