Banga Soup Prepared with Catfish and Starch

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The journey of a thousand miles people will say starts a step but the courage to take that first step is where the journey really begins. Sometimes trying something new is a journey – including tasting a delicious meal for the first time far different from your own cultural dishes. 

For five years I have spent my time around people of the South South region of Nigeria known as Niger Delta. A place richly blessed with liquid mineral resources (Oil and Gas) being the major source of revenue for the country at large and creating jobs for both indigenous and foreign expatriates like me. This has made so many people boss of your own founded company as there are lots of opportunities that give roles to contractors and or subcontractors to contribute to the whole process. The liquefied gas from Nigeria contributes 10 percent to the amount of cooking gas consumed worldwide.

So for this period of time I gave myself the chance (making out time in my schedule) to learn from this peace loving people and their culture every day.  It was on one of those occasions I met Eloho. Although she’s not a native of the land, but she is more like an indigene, since her family have spent over fifteen years there from the time they moved in for employment in 2001. The land of milk and honey is where I find myself – Bonny Island.

We’ve known each other for three months but it seem to me like it is three years. She is amazing, that I know already, but people say she’s the best cook in the Island. Eloho has been working as a chef for Stomach First restaurant after her successful completion of the mandatory Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE), one of the requirements (minimum of five credits including Mathematics and English Language) to gain admission in any tertiary institution in Nigeria. But she was unable to score above the minimum Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. So she made up her mind to get a job a do what she knows how to do best – cooking delicious meal.

Every Friday we go for happy hour but on this very faithful day she said she was going to cook for me and was it. A day I will never forget.

In less than 20 minutes everything needed for the cooking was ready and the recipe was: Starch (extraction from processed cassava), palm fruit (aka Banga), catfish, Maggi, salt, onion, beef, palm oil and native peppe soup spice. In another 30 minutes she was done cooking.

Here is how it was prepared:
1.       Steam the meat and fish with maggi, salt and onion.
2.       Boil the Banga till you can feel it has become very soft for pounding.
3.       Pound the outer layer off and extract the liquid that comes out in palm oil form.
4.        Then, boil it for ordinary water to evaporate before adding your steamed meat and Catfish.
5.       Add the native spice and a little Maggi and Salt again and that’s all just leave for few minutes before you turn off the hot plate.
6.        Next, put little drop of palm oil in a frying pan and allow it to hit well while you mix the starch in another bowl.
7.        Pour the starch into the frying pan with hot oil and steer till it becomes solid.

8.     Finally you’re already to taste a live changing food. Best served when not too cold.

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