When Braggers Prove Themselves
I know we aren’t the Kardashians, but if you’ve been keeping up with our African food exploration, then this article may give you a little déjà vu. You may be wondering why. Let me help you out… are you thinking of Kittely African okra stew? I bet I’m right. Just like there are plenty of red palm oil recipes out there, there are many easy Nigerian recipes with okra/okro. The okra soup ingredients may differ, and you’ll see how as you continue reading. But this can range from what you eat the Nigerian okro soup with, like okro soup and fufu, to what you put inside. An example is iru locust beans, which we will be using today! Hint, there’s a reason why Nigerians brag about their foods and hopefully, you will find out when you taste it. You are invited to subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
Nigerians love vegetables, and it’s understandable
You know how all the kids on tv never like to eat their broccoli or ANYTHING considered a vegetable? Well, not in Nigerian households! Not only because they don’t really have a choice lol, but also because so many easy Nigerian recipes have vegetables. And they are delicious too, so refusing is just pure madness (like Africans who are Closet Vegetarians). Plus, veggies are cheaper. And many African households have their own gardens, providing most of the okra soup ingredients they need. Now, if only it was easy to grow palm trees for those red palm oil recipes… would people leave their houses?
Fun fact: African vendors don’t only sell food, but flowers too. Among other things of course. Where do they get them? From public bushes in not commonly known areas! Oh, the resourcefulness! I wonder if I can find any iru locust beans trees…
Now do you understand why Nigerians love their Nigerian okro soup with veggies? Not only them but many West Africans. That’s why we even have a tasty Ogbono stew with facts of their veggie-loving nature.
Locust beans benefits
Locust beans, also called Parkia biglobosa, are grown on trees native to Africa. They can be fermented and tossed in different red palm oil recipes like stews and rice. When they are fermented, they are called Dorawa or Iru locust beans. They can also be made into a seasoning called dawadawa, used to enhance the flavours in dishes. Add it to your favourite okro soup and fufu recipes to give them some aromatic extra goodness!
Now onto the benefits. According to studies, the highest nutritional value found in iru locust beans is protein (you see!). Protein is great for cell growth and repair, and perfect for low-carb diets. It can also help in controlling diabetes and cholesterol levels. Locust beans also contain tannins, which stimulate the immune system.
Okra soup ingredients benefits
Moving onto the star of red palm oil recipes… palm oil. Palm oil is used in many easy Nigerian recipes, as well as other Western ones. In this article, we explain how it provides vitamins E and A. They help your cells function and the latter is beneficial for eye health. Again, Closet Vegetarians abound in Africa.
The last star (but not the least, I mean, it’s in the name for a reason) is the okra/okro. We have given the benefits of okra in this Okra stew recipe. But to summarize, okra is a great source of different vitamins. These are vitamins B and C. Also, they provide fibre and calcium. Fiber is good for your digestion and Calcium is great for building your bones and teeth. Expecting mothers are advised to have lots of calcium in their diets. And, rumour has it, eating okra will help in delivery. Have you heard this, or know someone who has tried it? Let us know in the comment section.
In the article linked, you’ll also find that okra stew can be made with lima beans. As mentioned at the start, the same recipe can be made in different ways, depending on which African country you want to represent. And what can we say, the West Africans love their beans too. You can try to add these to your Nigerian okro soup instead if you can’t get a hold of iru locust beans. Just mix and match to find your perfect and easy Nigerian recipes, but try to keep it authentic. And of course, one of the many perfect pairings is okro soup and fufu, so head over here to learn how to make fufu.
What does Nigerian Okro Soup taste like?
Abeg (I beg), tasting is believing. I am no stranger to eating Nigerian foods thanks to this journey of learning about Africa through food. I call it as I experience it. The stew tasted sweet with a lovely aroma thanks to the iru/dawadawa. Unlike other okra recipes I’ve made, this Nigerian Okra soup recipe taste gives me vibrant colours, a lovely smell and the same sweet taste. The word that came to mind as I ate it was regal. Nigerians bragg enough as it is so why would I want to add that? I felt regal while eating Nigerian Okro soup with my gari fufu. Gbam!
What makes Nigerian okra soup different? They don’t overcook their vegetables which is why you have vibrant colors and possibly nourishing vegetables. It’s like the vegetables are blanched at the end which retains the slimy consistency most people love ( I like mine less jor!). Overall, I’m happy with the results.
Traditional African food brings good smelly food
Wait! Don’t be discouraged by the title. Sometimes to come up with amazing okra soup ingredients, the kitchen has to get a little dirty… or smelly or so they say. Iru locust beans have great benefits, but the process of fermenting them comes with the release of some not-so-pleasant ‘scents’. But don’t worry, the smell is only high when it is uncooked thus the wrongful stigma. After I cooked it, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the aroma is low-mild and almost undetectable! You’ll see that your other okra soup ingredients will have enhanced flavours and a lovely aroma. Seriously, your scrunching nose will be replaced by mouth-watering that only red palm oil recipes and locust beans can bring.
Heck, after I added half a tablespoon of Iru to the soup base, I noticed the smell wasn’t coming up so I decided to grind some in the electric blender. Only then, was I able to get the noticeable lovely sweet-sour smell to show up 😄.
What does Locust beans taste like?
I will not ruin the surprise for you, but you can expect a neutral taste from the locust beans itself. Like we said before, locust beans only get their smell after fermentation so that means the fermented smell is what is released in the Okro stew. After that, the locust beans have a neutral taste and are pleasant to chew while eating your stew. See, Iru locust beans are misjudged wrongfully I think. As a Liberian, I am a fan of Iru now and adore the smell considering it is low-mild and is packed with a sweet-sour lovely aroma.
Related: Tasty Egusi Stew Recipe
Easy Nigerian recipes exploration party
Now we’ve established that locust beans are not related in any way to the little critters that plagued Egypt once. And we are ready to prepare some Nigerian okro soup and fufu. (Because are easy Nigerian recipes really complete without fufu?) Leave a like if you’ve enjoyed this recipe, and subscribe for more!
- 12 Ounce Okro minced
- 2 Cups Water
- 1 veggie cube
- 1 TSP & 1/2-teaspoon Himalayan Salt
- Desired amount of plant protein
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1/3Cup & 1/4cup Organic African Palm Oil
- Quarter of purple onion
- Half TBSP Iru
- 2 Habanero peppers diced
- 1 Seaweed sheet (optional)
- 2 Shitake Mushrooms dried (optional)
- 1 Small bunch of Spinach leaves (minced)
- Half Tsp Iru (Optional if you want strong aroma)
Firstly, start by washing your fresh Okra/okro, bell peppers, spinach, onion and habaneros. If you use dehydrated plant protein (which I did), you want to soak them for 20-30mins before adding them to the soup. If you use fresh tofu, you can boil or fry it at this stage. Check instructions on how to fry fresh tofu.
Next, you want to mince the okra. Some people grate it because they desire extra slime. If you want that, you can grate the okra or chop it up very finely in a food processor (chop it finely, do not puree). If you prefer low-mild slime, mince it by carefully slicing each pod into four strips, then proceed to mince the slated okra strips. This results in very minced (small pieces) of okra. Mince the rest and set aside.
After that, core your washed red bell pepper and cut it into small chunks. Then, take your quarter onion and cut it into medium-small chunks also. This allows it to blend puree easily in the food processor. Puree the bell pepper, and onion and set it aside. Chop up your habanero too and set it aside.
Following that, take your washed fresh spinach bunch and dice it. Big chunks or small pieces? You choose. Your okro soup will turn out beautifully!
Optional- If you desire a seafood essence, take the seaweed sheet and dried shitake mushrooms and blend them until it turns to a dust-like texture. Adds flavour to the soup since we do not use crawfish (aka crayfish). Thank you Grubanny for this inspiration!
In a medium cooking pot, add 2 cups of water and turn on the stove to medium-low. Add your plant protein (raw seitan only, keep fry tofu for later if that’s your plant protein of choice). To the mixture, add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 veggie cube. After the mixture begins to boil, add half a tablespoon of Iru/locust beans (dawadawa). Stir the mixture and low boil for 10-15 mins. Optional- If you want to use the ground seaweed-shiitake mixture, you can add it in this step.
Before the 15 mins of boiling is up, add your pureed red bell pepper mixture to the soup. Taste for salt and if needed, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Be sure to check on the soup and stir from the bottom. A fragrant aroma will start to greet you at this point.
After the 15 mins boiling, add in the 1/3 cup & 1/4 cup of Organic African Palm Oil. The mixture should be boiling before you add the red palm oil. I like mine rich so you can adjust the oil as you like. After you’ve added the oil stir the mixture and allow to cook for 1 minute. Then, reduce the heat to low and add in the minced okra and stir well to combine. You do not want to overcook the Okra, that is why we reduce the heat. Do cover the pot and allow the okra to simmer for 5mins. If you cover the pot, there will be less slime. If you keep the pot open there will be more slime. If you like it slimy, DO NOT cover the pot.
After the okro soup cooking time is up, add in your diced spinach. Stir well to combine. Remove the pot from the heat and do not cover it. Spinach cooks just fine with little heat.
Allow your Nigerian Okro soup to rest for a minute and serve it with yam fufu, gari fufu or millet fufu.
I think these are the rightful starches to eat with this landmark meal. Rice seems out of place here. ENJOY!
Okra is the same thing as Okro (called in Nigerian way).
Also, we know this meal’s consistency is too thick to be a soup. SEO Wahala! Soup is less thick and stew is thicker. For SEO reasons, we decided to call it “soup.”