We live in a multicultural society. Even though it has been said that the beauty of such society lies in its diversity, a level of open mindedness is required for the hidden jewel in each culture to be discovered and harnessed for the benefit of all. Today, our Nigeria in detail segment takes us to Abia State in southeastern Nigeria. In our bid to understand the people of Abia State better, we’ll be discussing ofe okazi, a local delicacy that hails from the state.
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Ofe okazi is the culinary treasure of Abia State. It is a soup prepared for special guests. As the name implies, the soup is prepared with okazi leaves, a dark green leafy vegetable. The vegetable is also called ukazi or afang leaves. It has a slightly bitter taste and it is said to have a number of health benefits.
Okazi is well loved in Abia. The good people of this state prepare a number of delicacies with it. In fact, while most people prepare ofe okazi with okazi as the only vegetable, some others add uziza leaves to the soup. This makes this soup the Abia equivalent of ofe owerri. Fresh or dried okazi can be used in making ofe okazi. Both can be bought in most local markets in the country. However, dry okazi should be added early so that the vegetable can tenderize before the food is ready.
Usually prepared with an assortment of protein, okazi soup keeps the mouth busy and gladdens the heart. Crayfish, pepper, seasoning cubes, salt, dry fish, stockfish and palm oil are used in preparing this soup. Mention must be made of the fact that palm oil should not be added with a generous hand. Rather, the quantity added should be just enough to colour the soup.
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Also, ofe okazi is thickened with ofor or achi. The soup should neither be too thick nor too watery. Ugu, akpuruakpu egusi and achara are optional additions to this soup.
Ofe okazi can be enjoyed with eba, pounded yam, fufu or any swallow of choice.
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