Nigeria is so blessed with great food and one of them is Ukwa (African breadfruit ).
This fruit could keep an individual healthy and strong, but it many have stayed away from some of these natural food with great health benefits.
African breadfruit botanically known as Treculia Africana or Ukwa in Igbo language is an edible traditional fruit.
Belonging to the Moraceae family, and commonly eaten by the Igbo people in south-eastern Nigeria. Hey! this does not mean you should avoid eating it if you are not from south-east.
I like eating ukwa. It has a distinctive potato-like taste and aroma that I love so much especially when prepared fresh.
Most times little or no ingredient is used in cooking this great meal and it will still taste great.
Back in the days, it was my grandmother that taught me how to extract the ukwa seeds from the fruit.
When I began to cook it, it took me a whole day to prepare.
I remember sleeping off without eating the long awaited delicious meal due to exhaustion, but all that has changed now.
I think breadfruit is among those meals that taste better the next day may be because I grew up eating mine like that.
EXTRACTION OF UKWA SEED FROM THE FRUIT
You may not need to go through this process, since you can buy already extracted Ukwa in the market.
For those who have access to the pulp, here is how to extract.
The ukwa fruit is hard and spongy in texture when ripe and contains numerous seeds like orange pips embedded at various depths in the fleshy pulp.
Normally the ripe fruit usually falls from ukwa tree to the ground with heavy crashing sound and this happens during the rainy seasons. Below are the steps of extracting ukwa seed from the fruit
- The fruits are stacked in a heap and allowed to ferment. Fermentation period varies between 5 to 10 days. The fermentation is done in order to facilitate the extraction of the seeds. This process imparts an offensive odour to the seeds
- The fermented fruit is macerated and washed preferably in the stream or at home with lots of water until all attached slimy, jelly-like materials have been gotten rid of. Those who know the nutritional value of Ukwa will go through this process to get the seed.
- Cleaned seeds are subsequently parboiled, air-dried and dehulled
Voila! Your ukwa is ready for consumption. Cooked seeds make very delicious meals.
4 REASONS WHY AFRICAN BREADFRUIT (UKWA) SHOULD BE ADDED TO YOUR DIET
- Breadfruit is good for the heart because it contains high quantities of potassium and it also regulates the heart and excess sodium.
- Breadfruit is high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which aids to condition the hair, controls the sebum production in the scalp, thereby minimizing dandruff and itchiness.
- African breadfruit is high in Vitamin C which aids in the creation of collagen, a protein which provides elasticity to the skin.
- The iron content in breadfruit boost blood circulation in the scalp and stimulates the hair follicles to promote hair growth. Regular consumption of the breadfruit helps in reducing hair breakage.
Though pricey, breadfruit might be the next super-food, and with good cause.
HOW TO PREPARE UKWA
It can be prepared in many ways: as a roasted snack usually eaten with coconut or palm kernel ( aki na ukwa) or as a porridge. The ultimate outcome should be enjoyable no matter how you prepare it.
As a food
Ukwa can be prepared in two familiar recipes:
- Ukwa could be cooked with potash and just eaten like that.
- It could also be separated from the water, and mixed with some ingredients and thereafter served with the extract (mmiri ukwa).
3 cups of ukwa
Potash (akanwu) a spoon full
Fresh pepper (about 2)
Ogiri (optional) (a local ingredient)
Maggi (half cube)
Salt to taste
Red oil (5 to 10 cl)
2 cups of maize (optional)
Fresh bitterleaf (optional)
- Boil the corn until it is tender and set aside.
- Wash the ukwa thoroughly with lots of cold clean water being mindful of stones and sand that usually settles at the bottom.
- Put the ukwa in a cooking pot and cook to boiling point before adding the potash (dissolve the potash in water to filter out the residue). Potash is a tenderiser.
- The ukwa is done when the seeds are soft when touched. You may need to top up the water while cooking so be on the watch out.
- Stir and add the bitter leaves.
- Cover up and allow to boil for 2 minutes the ukwa is ready to be served.
This is one of the two ways of eating this special delicacy. Some add a pinch of salt while some do not use salt for this particular recipe.
Also Read: 8 Simple Steps To Making Your Garri At Home
The second recipe is a continuation of the first recipes. Simply follow these three basic steps:
- Once the Ukwa is done, separate the seeds from the water and set aside.
- Pound fresh peppers add red oil, a half cube of maggi (if you cook with it), one ball of ogiri (optional) and stir.
- Put the soft corn, turn then add the soft ukwa seed and turn very well.