The Idoma’s Special Delicacy: Okoho Soup
One experience I will never forget from our vacations as a family to the village for Christmas celebration is the big basin full of wraps of pounded yam and okoho soup to celebrate that families are home and together. At that time eating okoho soup was an interesting battle… take my word for it, it requires a special technique to master the act of fetching that soup because of its slippery nature(that’s when you understand the part of the bible that says: “for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God through the pulling down of stronghold”).
Okoho soup which is known to be the main traditional soup of the Idoma people of Benue State normally prepared with bush meat or smoked meat and finally crowned with pounded yam(Onihi) is a soup made from the stem of a plant(intriguing right?) known by the Idomas, Igalas and Igbos as Okoho, to the Hausas as Dafara or Latutuwa, to the Yorubas as Agara or Orogbolo and goes by the botanical name Cissus populnea belonging to the family of Amplidaceae. this plant grows up to two to three meters tall and is a semi–climber, it grows in the savannah and is found in countries such as Senegal, Uganda, Sudan, and Nigeria. The stems of this plant are cut and used for the preparation of the soup as it is the main ingredient.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CISSUS POPULNEA
This plant has a well full of its highly medical uses which include the treatment of indigestion and venereal diseases which could be responsible for infertility amongst others.
The stem – has been reported to contain phytochemicals such as tannins, cyanogenic glycosides, flavonoids, anthraquinones, carotenoids and carbohydrates and vitamins for the treatment of respiratory issues, ulcers, mouth sores, throat sores, and sore breast; it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The root – is used traditionally in the management of
Sickle cell disease, skin disease, infected wounds, and boils implying that it exhibits antibacterial functions
INGREDIENTS FOR PREPARING OKOHO SOUP
The main ingredient needed for preparing okoho soup is okoho stem.
Two other important ingredients includes the special Idoma spice “Okpehe“(African Mesquite or iron tree), it also goes by the botanical name “Prosopls Africana” and Abahi (egusi balls) Other ingredients consists of basic ingredients needed for preparing soups in Nigeria. However lets use my grandmother’s recipe.
Bush meat(grasscutter or alligator) or smoked meat.
Okoho stick (stem).
Okpehe(locust beans) as the Tiv people call it “Gbaaye”.
Salt to taste.
Abahi (Egusi balls).
METHOD OF PREPARATION
Peel off the bark from the okoho stick by scratching the body gently with a knife.
Place your peeled okoho stick on any clean safe surface and hit with a pestle gently to loosen it.
Remove the rope-like layer, then discard the stick.
Wrap your rope like layer together like a sponge and place in a bowl, add hot water and allow to sit for 8 – 10 minutes.
If it is confirmed that its lukewarm enough to put your hand into, begin to squeeze it inside the bowl (squeeze until the water becomes thick and slippery, then set aside).
Parboil your bush meat, add seasoning cube, dried pepper and salt to taste. Allow to boil.Add your pounded Okpehe and dried fish and allow to cook.
To prepare Abahi:Grind your egusi with crayfish, add a little hot water to the grinded egusi and begin to knead until it begins to bring out oil( this mixture should not be too strong, a moldable consistency will do).
Mold into balls and add to your pot of already boiling meat. Allow cooking for some minutes.
Remove your meat and molded egusi from the pot while boiling and set aside.
Now remove the okoho rope from the already squeezed okoho leaving the thick liquid, pour liquid into your soup and stir for 5minutes.
Put on low heat add back your meat add molded egusi, and stir together for some minutes.
Turn off heat.Okoho soup is ready!!!!!!!!
Serve with any swallow of your choice preferably pounded yam.
Okoho is quite slippery if it’s your first time you have to eat with patience or tell your Idoma friend to teach you.
FUN FACT ABOUT OKOHO
Okoho aids microbial activities which may cure a lot of sexually transmitted infection that could be said to be liable for infertility…no wonder the Idoma people are fertile.
I am thinking you will agree with me when I say “A meal that is not only nutritious but also tasty, sums up to a perfect meal”. No wonder its so special to the Idoma people! I can’t wait to hear all about your experience when you try it out!