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Origin of Nigerian Foods: Omi Ukpoka

Food is a central identity marker. It defines personality, social class, lifestyle, and relationships. Our understanding and relationship with food is governed to a large extent by our culture. We can tell where a person comes from by the type of food he eats and by the ingredients and method of preparation he uses. Even though globalization has led to cultural food diffusion, people’s food choices and habits are still influenced by their culture.

Edo State is situated in the South-South geopolitical zone. The five major ethnic groups in Edo State are the Bini, the Afemai, the Esan, the Owan, and the Akoko-Edo. The great people of Edo State are very traditional. Just as we have in all ethnic groups, food is a vital instrument in the transmission of the Edo culture. The people of Edo State also have a number of interesting delicacies like omoebe soup, pepper rice, owo soup, and omi ukpoka soup.

On our food history segment today, we will be discussing omi ukpoka, a soup that is indigenous to the Afemai people of Agenebode in northern Edo State. Omi ukpoka is generally known as corn soup. It is prepared with ground dry corn, the type used in making akamu. The corn is blended with smoked fish. Its preparation also includes herbs like uda, uziza, and ehuru. These herbs are not only therapeutic, they are also responsible for the unique taste of the soup.

Omi Ukpoka is best prepared in small quantity so that it can be consumed at once. This soup is best eaten as e dey hot. This is because the soup, thanks to the corn, thickens further when it is cold.

Omi ukpoka has a texture that is similar to ofe nsala or light egusi soup. It has high carbohydrate content and so, it’s not recommended for people on a diet. Omi ukpoka is preferably served with pounded yam but it can also be enjoyed with any swallow of choice.


Edo State Government

1Q Food Platter

Naija Food Therapy


Featured image source: Pulse NG

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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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