Friday, 12 October 2012

Spices used in Urhobo dishes

I have received a few emails concerning the spices I used. A lot of my readers would like me to tell them their names in English. So I decided to do a blog concerning the various spices used in Urhobo dishes. The only little problem is that certain spices I do not know the English name just the native name. However, I have taken pictures of the various spices in my kitchen cupboards so this can also help you to identify them. In addition, I will also make reference to what soup they go well with.



The list as follows:


 
The Obeletientien is darkish green in colour and is used in Banga soup and also pepper soup. It does not add or remove any flavours. It is used as a form of garnish. Only a tea spoon will do the job. The English name for this is dry leaf spice. Any Nigerian shop especially the Edos and Urhobs will know what you are talking about.







The Oburunbebe stick is also known as ‘brown stick’. You really need to go to an Edo or anyone from the Delta Region shops to get this spice. It is a spice that is associated with these people and many other tribes in Nigeria may not know it. This stick is used for the Urhobos Banga soup. It certainly makes all the difference in taste and smell. The stick can be blended; however we tend  not to blend the stick and instead cook it and also recycle the stick once used (for a certain period of time). When using this stick for Banga, 1/2 is more than enough. It goes into the soup near the end of preparation and removed once soup is ready.








I have searched high and low on the internet for the English name for Rogojie, however it has been a painful search which ended up in vain. There is the scientific name, however I doubt very much that name is known amongst those who sells them. This spice is also used for the Urhobo banga soup and plays a vital role in its taste and also in pepper soup. Correct me if I am wrong, the Rogojie derives from the fruit of the Aidan tree. The pods have 4 longitudinal, wing-like ridges nearly 3 cm broad. Below is a picture of the spice before the seeds are extracted from it.



Yanghanyanghan





Uziza seeds belong to the pepper seeds family. The English name for this is also called Ashanti pepper and Benin pepper. It is used in many Nigerian dishes including its' leaf uziza leaves. This spice is used in dishes where it imparts heat to the dish.






Uda is also known as Negro pepper, grains of selim and Ethiopian pepper. It is a spice used in many Urhobo pepper soup dishes, including that of Ukodo. It is used for post pregnancy. As soon as the woman gives birth many tend to chew on this pepper. It is supposed to heal the woman, which is why when many urhobo women give birth you always find that someone will bring pepper soup for her.




Ehuru seed is also known as Eiri and Jamaican Nutmeg. The odour and taste of the Monodora myristica seed is similar to nutmeg and it is used as a popular spice in the West African cuisine. It is used in all Urhobo pepper soup dishes including the yam porridge. The spice dwells within the shell. Once remove the shell you can grate, blend or use as a whole in dishes.




Ulima seeds (do not know the English name) is used in pepper soup dishes. The spice dwells in the nut. Remove shell and used to cook this soup.







Gbafilo is a medium to large shaped type egg with rough sandpaper-like surface. The nut, which shakes freely inside, is removed and ground for pepper soup.







 
Atariko are small seeds which are either sold in, or removed from, the alligator pod (as per picture above). This spice is highly scented and the tiny seeds are used to flavour pepper soups, or banga soup with rigije.


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Tamarind seed comes from a curved brown bean-pod, which is located at the tamarind tree. The pod contains a sticky pulp enclosing one to ten shiny black seeds. This spice is used for flavouring as it known for its' sweet, sour, fruity aroma taste. This can be used in all Nigerian dishes.


 
Lemongrass spice is widely used by the Urhobos when cooking Ukodu (pepper soup yam porridge). It is a long thick grass with leaves at the top and a solid portion several inches long at the root end. In other cultures fresh lemon grass is preferred for cooking due to its' vibrant flavour, but we Urhobo prefer it in its' dry form.



Ikawun aka Potash is grey in colour and is used in many Urhobo oil dishes


Uweru aka Urhobo Potash this is white in colour and only Delta state sells this (sorry) also used in Urhobo oil dishes.



So far this is the list of spices I used. I will update the list in due course.



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19 comments:

  1. Hi MO, I think the Yanghanyanghan(a.ka.a UYAYAK) is called the Aidan Fruit in english...I wish I can get this spices in europe :(
    Banga can't be banga without them .

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    1. Nky you said it. If you do not use the spices in Urhobo banga soup it just becomes the banga that the Ghanaians and those from Cameroon eat. What puts the Urhobo banga out there is the spices we use. Nfy are you based in London? You know London is like Nigeria? We have everything here. If you are not or finding it hard to get some I can always post you a blended form.

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    1. Hi Angelina, Not sure if you may get this reply.

      For the herbs there are only 2 places that I will recommend in London. There is an Urhobo woman based in Deptford High st, heading towards surrey quays, so you want the bottom part of deptford not the top part. She is after tomi kitchens pass the bridge. She has everything. Just tell her the soup you want to cook and she will bring everything to the table.

      The other place is an Edo woman based in Peckham. She is at the bottom part of peckham as if you are going towards nunhead. Her shop is before Asda (do not get the shops confused as before hers is a Yoruba womans’ shop. You can tell them apart as the Edo women shop is smaller). She equally sells everything, but I find out certain potashes (as we Urhobos have many types) she doesn't have compared to the Urhobo woman. However, just like the Urhobo woman tell her what soup you are cooking and she will bring all the spices to the table. O yeah, whilst the Edo woman tends to blend all the spices, the Urhobo woman has it in its raw form.

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  3. Whereabouts in London can I get these spices?...and do you by any miraculous chance do cooking lessons?lol...I'm getting married to an urhobo man, and I'm clueless about Nigerian food!

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    1. Hi Tiana, thanks for reading. Firstly, congrats and welcome to the family, if you don't mind me asking what is his name? As we Urhobos tend to know ourselves. I am more than happy to help you with our dishes.

      For the herbs there are only 2 places that I will recommend in London. There is an Urhobo woman based in Deptford High st, heading towards surrey quays, so you want the bottom part of deptford not the top part. She is after tomi kitchens pass the bridge. She has everything. Just tell her the soup you want to cook and she will bring everything to the table.

      The other place is an Edo woman based in Peckham. She is at the bottom part of peckham as if you are going towards nunhead. Her shop is before Asda (do not get the shops confused as before hers is a Yoruba womans’ shop. You can tell them apart as the Edo women shop is smaller). She equally sells everything, but I find out certain potashes (as we Urhobos have many types) she doesn't have compared to the Urhobo woman. However, just like the Urhobo woman tell her what soup you are cooking and she will bring all the spices to the table. O yeah, whilst the Edo woman tends to blend all the spices, the Urhobo woman has it in its raw form.

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  4. I am so proud of the person who wrote this blog (I don't know the name). The web is full of non-authentic ways of cooking "urhobo" banga soup. I am also proud of everyone who has left a comment. I will check out the urhobo woman's shop in Deptford. I am very proud to be urhobo. God bless you all.

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    1. Pamela thank you so much. Will be blogging more urhobo dishes.

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  5. This beletientien leaf used in banga you say is also used in Peppersoup. Is it the same thing as scent leave?

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    1. Sorry for the late delay. Yes I believe it is.

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    2. Great compilation - well done.

      Belentientien and Scent leaves are not the same. They come from different sources and taste different too.

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    3. My goodness just saw my response and so not true. Pregnancy hormones back then . Obeletientien is not the same as scented leaf oooo. I should have said can be used as an alternative. Although Urhobos do use Obeletientien for soups such as banga, various types of pepper soup and oil sauces. Thanks Butterfly.

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  6. You be better chick. Thanks so much for sharing all these dishes, tips& tricks. God bless you

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  7. Wow! This is a treasure trove. Thanks for the pics, you just made my day!

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    1. Aww more than happy to. Will soon be updating list. Stay tuned.

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  8. Please, I need your help with the stick called oburunbebe. I want to know if it's the stick called 'orin ata' in Yorubaland, which is also used for chewing stick and other medicinal uses. Please, I'm being serious as I'm Yoruba and not familiar with the Urhobo name. I just want to be sure I'm buying the right stick.

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    1. Hi I am not familiar with the Yoruba name. However, from your description I doubt very much. The stick is not use for any medical thing neither as a chewing stick. Best to ask an Edo womam or Urhobo woman shop

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  9. Also, are Rogojie and Rigije the same thing please?

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    1. Hi not sure.. I'll get back to you on that.

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