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Recipe For Ukwa Etelu Ete

Last week was interesting. My article, 5 Things You Should Know About Ukwa, was quite sensational. Someone challenged my assertion that ukwa is indigenous to Anambra State. So, we put up the question of its origin on our WhatsApp status and people sent in their views. Of course, Anambra won. I’m happy with the attention the article attracted and I thank everyone who participated in the discussion.

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On our menu, today, is Ukwa Etelu Ete. This is obviously not the regular ukwa pottage but the one prepared for special occasions. Those of us who have tasted ukwa prepared by an experienced caterer (not the try your luck ones) will agree that there’s something different about it. Some of us have even attempted to recreate that classic taste of ceremonial ukwa and failed. I hope today’s article will demystify ceremonial ukwa.

Now, the first thing you should know about ukwa etelu ete is that it is prepared like soup. It is prepared with the addition of one local ingredient, ogili isi. Oya, let me tell you how to do make it.

Ingredients for Ukwa Etelu Ete

5 cups of ukwa

One tablespoon of palm oil

1 teaspoon of ogili isi (aka ogili)

Ngor (potash)

Dry fish

Scotch bonnet pepper to taste

Seasoning cubes

Bitter leaves

Salt to taste

How to Prepare

Put the ukwa in a clean tray and pick out dirt from it. When you are done, transfer it into a clean, sizeable bowl and add water to it.

Wash by gently rubbing handfuls of ukwa between your palms. Please note that if you don’t wash gently, you’ll break the seeds.

When you are done washing, scoop out the ukwa with your hands then discard the dirty water. Rinse the ukwa several times to ensure there’s no sand left in it.

Next, put it in a clean pot and add water to it. Please note that the quantity of water added should be at least three inches above the ukwa.

Place the pot on medium to high heat.

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Rinse and blend the pepper. Rinse the dry fish in lukewarm water and debone it. Pour three tablespoons of ngor into a soup bowl then add some water to it. Set these aside for later use.

If you are using already washed bitter leaves like I am, rinse well and taste. If it has a bitter taste, put it in a pot and boil for 8 minutes.

Turn off the heat and use a sieve to drain the water. Set the vegetable aside for later use.

Check the ukwa. If the water has turned milky, use a sieve to gently pour the ngor water into the pot.

Cover the pot. Cook until the ukwa is very soft, then turn off the heat.

Next, place a clean sieve over a bowl. Pour the ukwa and whatever liquid is left in it into the sieve.

Take one cup of ukwa water from the bowl under the sieve and pour it into the pot. If you don’t have up to one cup of water, that’s alright. Just complete whatever you have with some water.

Set the pot on medium heat. Add pepper, dry fish, palm oil, ogili, bitter leaves, seasoning cubes, and salt to it. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the ukwa. Stir well and cover the pot. Cook until the food is not watery. Turn off the heat.

Your ukwa etelu ete is ready. Serve hot.



Featured Image Source: Pinterest

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Obiamaka Angela Udevi

Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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