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Banga Soup...

I don't know a better delicacy to have come out of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria; you can enjoy Banga Soup with starch, pounded yam, eba, rice and I've even heard someone say that she enjoys it with boiled yam (you can make it LCHF compliant by eating it with keto eba). It requires a little more work, (OK, a lot more work) than most of the other soups but it is totally worth it.

This soup requires a number of local spices that you can buy individually or buy as a spice blend, i don't know the English names of a lot of these spices but you won't go wrong if you go to the market and just ask for Banga Spice. Also, if you google the native name, you can pull up pictures to help you know what these spices are.

1Kg Beef

1Kg Goat Meat

1Kg Assorted Meat (Optional)

Snails (Optional)

Periwinkle (Optional)

1 Dried/Smoked Fish - De-boned and cleaned

250Grms Stock Fish - Washed

1 Medium Catfish, Cleaned and cut into medium sized pieces

1 Cup of Ground Crayfish

1Kg Palm Fruit or 5 Cups Unsqueezed Palm Fruit Pulp

1 Onion

Oburunbebe Stick

Uyayak (Aidan Fruit)

Banga Spice Mix - A mix of rohojie, shavings of the oburunbebe stick, ehuru and other spices

3 Tablespoons Dried Atama Leaves

2 Tablespoons Offor or 1/2 Cup Ground Cooked Cocoyam (Optional)

Seasoning Cubes

Salt & Pepper

Step 1 is the most important step. This is where the flavor of your soup is built.

Wash your meat and season with salt, pepper, seasoning cubes and chopped onions and enough water to come up to the level of the meat. You want to also add your stock fish at this time so that it flavors your meat as well and it has enough time to break down.

Tip 1: Do not put too much water in your meat as you will not be able to drain it and you do not want a light soup.

Tip 2: Cook tougher cuts of meat first, when the meat is half cooked then add other cuts such as beef. For those who don't know, if you choose to add shaki (tripe) to your soup, make sure you cook it down first as it gets extremely tough. Even if you are using a pressure cooker, cook tougher cuts first and then add other meat cuts. If you put them all in at the same time, by the time they are cooked, your other cuts of meat would have turned to mush!

When your meat is cooked, your soup is 50% cooked. Set meat and stock aside.

Because i'm not in Nigeria, i was unable to get fresh palm fruits, but i did get the next bestt thing - the pulp which had already been taken off the palm kernel.

Let me back track a bit for those who have access to palm fruits.

Soak your palm fruits in salt water for about 30 minutes to loosen any sand that might be stuck to it. Rinse 2 or 3 times then transfer to a pot and cover with water, add salt and cook for 20 - 25 minutes. It is ready to come out when you pick a palm fruit out and the pulp is soft and coming off the kernel.

Transfer the palm fruit to a mortar and pound until all the pulp comes off the kernel. You can also transfer to a food processor with a plastic blade and pulse until all the flesh comes off. You will want to do this in little batches, and pulse in short bursts so as not to damage your food processor.

Now you're at the my starting point.

Transfer pulp to a pot and cover with enough hot water to cover it. While it sits, the hot water will be working to loosen the palm juice from the pulp. You can speed up this process by swirling around with a wooden spoon.

When the water is warm enough to touch, get in there and squeeze as much juice as you can from the pulp.

You will not be able to get all the juice out in one go, so strain and repeat. Be mindful of how much water you're using, you want a thick palm juice with a consistency of a milkshake or slightly lighter.

I know this is a lot of work, but this tastes so much better than the banga paste that comes in a can.

Put the palm juice on medium to high heat and add banga spices, including uyayak and oburunbebe stick.

I don't know what it is about the oburunbebe stick but it really makes all the difference. I tried to make Banga Soup without it once and the difference was clear.

When the palm juice comes to a boil and is fragrant, add meat, dried fish, snail, periwinkle, catfish and crayfish. Season to taste with salt, (Cameroon) pepper, 3 season cubes and turn the heat down and allow the soup to cook for about 15 minutes.

Another indicator that your soup is ready is that you start seeing circles of red palm oil forming in the soup.

At this point your soup should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it isn't, turn the heat down to medium, add your thickener in little increments until you're ALMOST at your desired thickness. Please bear in mind that the soup will continue to thicken as it cools down.

Add atama and cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve with your desired carb and enjoy.

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