By Ndem Nkem
There’s no better way to learn about Enugu’s cultural heritage than through your tastebuds. For a big bite in the Coal city, Jovago.com, Africa’s No.1 online hotel booking portal has insight on great meals to check-out on a food lover’s trip to Enugu.
Popularly referred to as ‘ Lion’s food or the King’s meal’, Okpa is a traditional Nigerian dish popular in the Eastern part of Nigeria and is believed it to be originated from Nsukka, Enugu. Okpa is made from Bambara flour got from the Bambara nut. It is very easy to make as very few ingredients are required and it takes just about 45 minutes to cook. While a lot of vendors sell them wrapped in thin transparent nylon bags, the locals prefer using banana leaves as the wrap. Visitors are sure to get the best of this delicacy at 9th Mile Corner in Ngwo near Enugu.
Often referred to as African Salad, Abacha is a traditional Igbo meal made with dried shredded cassava, fermented oil bean seeds and a lot of spices. Believed to have originated from Achi in Enugu state, the meal can be served as an appetizer or main course. No event happens in the Enugu without Abacha on the menu. The key to making a good African Salad is to make sure that all the ingredients are well incorporated and the palm oil used in the right quantity. Visitors in the city will find Abacha on the street, local bukkas and even some upscale restaurants that serve indigenous meals.
A constant in every Enugu beer parlour, Nkwobi or Spicy cow-legs is a much-loved delicacy in the eastern part of Nigeria. While it is easy to make as it basically cooked cow-foot mixed in spicy palm oil paste, it is rarely prepared at homes. It takes a lot of time and so people prefer to buy from restaurants and local joints. These joints cook it in large quantity so it is economical for them. A plate in an average restaurant ranges between 600-1500 Naira.
Yam and Agbugbu (FioFio)
This is a favorite for most locals in Enugu and most visitors tend to fall in love with this meal at first taste. Porridge made with yam and a kind of beans- Pigeon peas, a tropical and subtropical perennial legume that belongs to the family of Fabaceae, also called Akidi, in the local dialect. The meal is easy to make, all you have to do is cook the pigeon peas until they are soft, then gently mash and boil together with the yam and a little bit of water until the yam is cooked. It is usually accompanied with palm oil onion and pepper sauce.
The Igbo version of Banga stew, Ofe Akwu is made with palm fruit oil extract. The filtrate which is totally different from pure palm oil is distilled at a very low temperature and is a mixture of oil and water. The scent leaves, however, give the Ofe Akwu its unique aroma and taste. The preparation can be tedious, but the taste is rewarding. Ofe akwu is usually served with boiled white rice, yam or plantain , and is certainly eaten as the main course.
Ofe Onugbu and Akpu
Ofe Onugbu is the native name for bitter leaf soup and Akpu is also referred to as Fufu. The bitter leaf soup is a very simple soup as its ingredients are not many. You only require a lot of meat, fish, palm oil, bitter leaf, cocoyam paste, salt and optional spices. The soup is very tasty as the bitter leaves are detoxed off the heavy bitterness in the leaves before being cooked or used in the soup. Akpu, on the other hand, is made of cassava and makes for a perfect swallow combo with the soup.
Ndem Nkem is Travel/Tech writer for Jovago.com