On our menu, today is Okpa, a Nigerian delicacy that is made from Bambara nut flour. This food is indigenous to Enugu State. It is also known as Okpa Wawa; in fact, the appellation, wawa which is generally attached to Okpa is actually a reference to its origin, the good people of Enugu who are also known as ‘Ndi Wawa’.
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Okpa is one of those foods that require minimal ingredients because it is naturally delicious. Thus, I don’t add onions, crayfish or seasoning cubes to my Okpa. I feel these ingredients alter the naturally sweet taste of the food. I also use a generous quantity of fresh palm oil in mixing my Okpa; it gives me a great taste and a sharp, yellow colour.
Please take note of the word, “fresh” for you will not achieve the classic Okpa taste with rancid palm oil.
3 Cups of Okpa
1/2 Cup of Palm Oil
Scotch bonnet Pepper to taste
1/2 Teaspoon of ground uziza
Salt to taste
Method of Preparation
Put water in a kettle to boil. Sift Okpa into a sizeable bowl. Add palm oil to the Okpa. Use your hand to mix both ingredients till the palm oil is well incorporated into the Okpa flour.
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When the water is hot, add it, a little at a time into the Okpa mixture while mixing with your hand to achieve a lump-free consistency. Let me mention at this point that I use my hand in mixing Okpa and the water I use in mixing at this time is usually hot but not so hot that it can burn my hand.
Having said that, once a smooth okpa mixture is achieved, add very hot water to the mixture. Use a spatula or cooking spoon for stirring the mixture at this time. Aim for a watery consistency, one that is similar to raw pap mixture. If your mixture is thick, you’ll most likely end up with strong pudding, the type my people call ‘mgbadume’.
Pour the remaining hot water into a pot and put it on low heat. If you are still concerned that your Okpa mixture might still have lumps, pour it through a wire mesh sieve. The sieve will catch whatever lump is remaining in the mixture. Add pepper, the ground uziza and salt at this point. Taste for salt and if the taste is satisfactory, start pouring the mixture into aluminium plates, transparent plastic bag or foil.
The water in the pot should be boiling at this point so gently put each wrap of Okpa into the pot. When you’ve put the last one into it, cover the pot and increase the heat to medium. Allow the Okpa to steam for forty-five minutes to one hour. Please note that Okpa is steamed with little water; so, you need to monitor it closely to avoid burning. When it’s cooked, you can serve and enjoy it with pap, custard, tea or a bottle of cold drink.
Featured Image Source: Guardian NG
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