Ukwa is definitely one of the popular foods in Nigeria, a very great delicacy of the Igbo tribe. It is also called Afon in Yoruba, Ize in Benin, Jekri or Sobo in thaw, and Ediang in Efik, It is the seed of the African breadfruit which is similar to the breadfruit eaten in the Caribbean and South Pacific, but a bit different. The African breadfruit grows as large as watermelons and weighing 10 or more pounds. Also, it is not sought after for its “meat” but rather for its seeds.
To extract the seeds from the fruit, the fruits are allowed to ripen and fall from the large trees in which they grow on. The fruits are then allowed to rot, and machetes used to crack open the fruit or sometimes the fruit is even thrown on large rocks.
Studies have shown that breadfruit comes with lots of essential vitamins and minerals like beta-carotene, vitamin c, and folic acid (folate). Like other tropical delicacies, Ukwa is rich in vital B-complex groups of vitamins, thiamin, pyridoxine, niacin and Omega 3 Fatty acids. 100g or 3.5oz serving of Ukwa is composed of about 10% fat primarily unsaturated fat (the good fat), 12-15% protein, 25% carbohydrates with 2% fibre and with only about 240 kcal in this serving amount, it is a good option for individuals with diabetes.
The dish could be eaten plain (with the water it is cooked with) or separated from the water for just the seeds to be mashed with some other ingredients like corn. Today, we are looking at three recipes of these delicious dish – plain, porridge and with corn. Plain Ukwa (this will be the foundation for the remaining 2 recipes) Ingredients Ukwa seeds, 2 seasoning cubes, dry fish, stock fish, edible potash, palm oil, grounded or black pepper, grounded cray fish, okiri and salt to taste. How To Make Before you cook the breadfruit: If using dry ukwa seeds, soak it overnight in plenty of cold water. If using fresh ones, you need not soak it.
So, simply wash the seeds thoroughly with clean water, then use a sieve to remove hidden tiny stones which usually settle at the bottom. Boil the thoroughly washed seeds in a pot with enough water to cover the seeds all up (just a little bit, about 1 inch above the level of the seeds). NOTE that the seeds will not soften until there is a catalyst to aid it, hence, the need of potash. Dissolve the edible potash in water, add in the clear water to the boiling seeds and throw away the residue. Add in the washed dry fish or stock fish, cover the pot and cook all till well done. You may need to top up the water while cooking so watch it closely. The ukwa is done when the seeds melt when pressed.
Ukwa Porridge After the above steps (for the plain ukwa), now add in palm oil, ogiri, pepper, ground crayfish, seasoning cubes and salt to taste, like you will do for your beans porridge. Stir, cover and cook on medium heat till the palm oil changes colour from red to yellow. This should take about 5 minutes. Cover and leave to simmer and the ukwa porridge is ready to be served. Read also: Tired Of Repeating Same Food? 10 Food Varieties To Try Out Ukwa and Corn Porridge
Recipe 1 Once the plain is done, preparing the corn is next for this dish. Boil the corn till it is tender too, then set aside.
For this you will need proper pepper (scotch bonnet and onions). Blend the pepper and onions then make stew in another pot (add in little salt and seasoning as you already added to the ukwa) As the stew simmers, add in the boiled corn then mix well. Then, sieve the boiled ukwa from water and add into the mixed corn, then stir further till all three are mixed and blended perfectly. Cook for about a minute more and you are all done.
Recipe 2 The additional ingredients you need for this are onion, green and yellow pepper, scotch bonnet pepper and tin tomato for the stew.
Put the washed seeds in an empty pot, add in the potash water and ordinary water, then cook for 40minutes. Add in the stock fish and allow to cook for 10 more minutes. Add the corn and leave to cook again, topping the water little by little. When soft enough to eat, prepare stew in another pot and serve your ukwa with it!Photos Credit: Getty