Yesterday, i came back from the market with my freshly brought periwinkles. For a moment, i thought they were all dead till i came back to the kitchen to find them everywhere on the kitchen walls. The actual thought that the main ingredient for my Okazi soup was crawling away sent shivers down my spine. It took me almost an hour to get every single one that crept away back in place. From that moment, i vowed never to leave periwinkles by themselves Unguarded (Kitchen Tip no 1…lol!).
Ofe Ukazi “Igbo” or Afang Soup “Efik” is a tasty Nigerian soup which is quite popular in the Eastern & south eastern (Cross river….Akwa ibom) parts of Nigeria. The major ingredient which the name of the soup was coined from is the wild spinach leaf (Ukazi/Afang leaf) “Gnetum Africanum” (View full list of Nigerian leafy vegetables here). It’s got a tough (hard) papery glossy texture and is tasteless without any distinctive smell until cooked. Due to it’s tough texture, its usually sold pre-sliced in the Nigerian market by the vendors.
Sometimes after it’s sliced, it’s further ground with a dry mill as this tends to bring out the taste more in soups. The igbos prepare Ofe Ukazi in two ways; With Egusi Or With Achi which serves as the soup thickener. Usually when it’s being prepared with Egusi, Achi wouldn’t be added as egusi serves as a good thickener. Also, When prepared with Achi, some igbos (Especially those in the riverine areas) prefer Grinding the Okazi leaves a little bit more after Slicing. This helps in bringing out the real taste of the soup. Similarly, the Efiks prepare Afang soup slightly different from the Igbo version. For afang, Waterleaf is usually substituted for Achi or Egusi (Just like edikaikong). Also, The Efiks grind the okazi leaves further after slicing.
Afang or Okazi leaves is a rich source of protein and both essential and non-essential amino acids. it also has an anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties
How to make Ofe Ukazi or Okazi / Afang soup
• Prep Time: 15 minutes
• Cook Time: Over 45mins
• Serves: 4