There are several ways of enjoying Okro (also known as Okra or Gumbo). I absolutely love it in its dried form, especially when used to make soup. This soup is very common in the Northern part of Nigeria and several other west and north African countries, with some modifications. I grew up eating this soup and was very excited to stumble on some dried okro a few days back. Sit back, relax, and let me show you how to cook this fantastic soup.
(1) About 500 Grams of Nama Shanu (Beef) (Cut into stew sizes)
(2) About 500 Grams of Beef Bones. (If using bone-in beef, use a total of 1 kg of bone-in beef and leave out the beef bones)
(3) 2 Bouillon Cubes
(4) 1 Medium Sized Albasa (Onion)
(5) Gishiri (Salt) to Taste
(6) Ruwa (Water) as Needed
(7) 2 Large of 4 Small Smoked Mackerel Fish
(8) Thumb-Size Piece of Citta (Ginger)
(9) 2 – 3 Burkunu (Scotch Bonnet Pepper)
(10) 1 Heap Tablespoon or Dawadawa (Iru/Locust Bean)
(11) A Small Handful of Dried Crayfish
(12) 2 Tablespoons Mai Ja (Palm Oil)
(13) About 5 – 6 Tablespoons Dried Kubewa (Okro)
Notes: (1) Beef is the traditional meat used to cook this soup. You can also use other types of meats, poultry and seafood. But if you want to stick to tradition, make use of beef.
(2) When buying beef, ask for beef from male bulls as they are often more tender than those of female cows. This is because female cows are only killed when they are old and past calf-bearing. If you can get beef with some tendons, that would be great for some chew often referred to as “ja ni in ja ka” (Loosely translated as “draw me, I draw you”)
(3) The beef bones are a very important as part of this soup. Part of the trills of this soup is chewing the bones at the end of the meal with all the trapped in sauces and juices. Please do not leave them out.
(4) While any type of smoked or dried fish can be used in this soup, this soup is amazing with smoked Mackerel or Sardines.
(5) Traditionally, the pounded and caked dawadawa is used for this dish. If you cannot find the pounded dawadawa disk, feel free to use the whole beans. Just crush them before using.
(1) Wash the beef and bones and place in a large pot. Chop the onions and add. Also add the bouillon cubes. Place the pot on fire and set to boil. Cook for about 45 minutes, You want the beef to be very soft.
Note: Do not add water to the beef just yet. Wait until the beef has cooked in all its juices before adding more water as needed.
(2) Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients starting with the smoked Mackerel. Wash the fish, remove the bones and tear into chunks. Do not tear them too small as they will breakdown further in the soup. It is also pleasant to stumble on the occasional large chunk of smoked fish in the soup. Also add parts of the fish head for crunch.
(3) In a mortar, crush the brukunu along with the citta and dried crayfish. When these have crushed sufficiently, add the dawadawa and crush a little more. If using dried dawadawa, crush it first before adding the other ingredients.
Note: A true northerner will place a whole burkunu in the soup. This is usually served with the soup and crushed in the plate while the meal is being eaten.
(4) After the beef has cooked for 45 minutes, add some more water. The quantity of water you add here will depend on how much dried okro you have. I used about 2 cups of water to cook the beef and added about 5 more cups of water after 45 minutes.
(5) Allow the water to come back to a boil and then add the crushed ginger paste, smoked mackerel, whole brukunu and palm oil. Do not allow any of that lovely ginger paste to go to waste. Rinse the mortar with some of the soup water and add to the soup. Allow this to boil uncovered for about 20 minutes.
(6) After 20 minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and smoked fish from the soup along with any other bits you have in the soup. Do yourself a favor and taste the broth now. Amazing right? Check for seasoning and adjust if needed.
Note: The meat and other things are removed so as to prevent the soup form forming lumps when the dried okro is added.
(7) Very little dried okro goes a long way, so use sparingly. Take some okro in one hand and pour into the soup little at a time. With the other hand, stir the soup continuously until all the okro has been incorporated. Keep adding dried okro until you get the consistency you love. If you add too much dried okro, just add some more water to thin it out. Note that this soup will continue to thicken as it cools.
(8) Return the meat and other ingredients to the pot and cook for about 10 minutes, uncovered.
This soup is best served with Tuwon Masara, Tuwon Shinkafa, Tuwon Acha or any other Tuwo of your choice. To complete the taste, add a teaspoon of Mai Shanu to the soup and watch it melt into the soup. While eating this soup, set the pepper to a side of the plate, crush and incorporate into the soup as you progress with the meal. This is a soup you will absolutely and totally love.
Miyan Kuka. Recipe here.