Ugba or ukpaka is the local name for fermented African oil bean. The African oil bean tree grows approximately 6 metres in girth and 21 metres in height. The tree is low branched; it has low wide buttresses and an open crown that allows light to penetrate under its canopy. The glossy brown seeds are the most widely used part of the African oil bean. It is contained in a flattened pod that explodes when it is ripe.
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Ugba is a product of alkaline fermentation of oil bean seeds. Fermented ugba tastes better than the unfermented one and has a softer texture too. It is a nutrient packed natural food. This delicacy serves both as a meal and a food flavoring agent. It is also a cheap source of protein for those who cannot afford expensive options. Ugba is used as an accompaniment to a number of dishes like nkwobi, isi ewu, abacha, and ji agwolu agwo.
Ugba salad is a traditional Igbo meal that hails from Imo State. This food is an exclusive delicacy that is served in traditional ceremonies in most parts of South-Eastern Nigeria. The meal has become so popular that it is a restaurant special in most parts of Nigeria. The cost of ugba has made this meal an expensive one. One wrap of ugba is usually very small; at least four wraps are needed to make a plate.
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Ugba Salad is prepared with shredded ukpaka. This meal is made the same way as abacha. Other ingredients for making this delicacy are stockfish, palm oil, pepper, wrapped locust bean, kpomo, edible potash (ngor), garden egg leaves, seasoning cubes, and salt.
Ugba salad can serve as a meal or a snack. It is best enjoyed with a glass of cold palm wine.
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Nurudeen A. Olasupo, Chimezie P. Okorie and Folarin A. Oguntoyinbo, “The Biotechnology of Ugba, a Nigerian Traditional Fermented Food Condiment,” Frontiers in Microbiology, 7, 2016.
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