Ọ̀gbọ̀nọ́: African Mango Kernel

Ogbono Soup

This kernel or seed is encased in the fruit- African Mango (Ụ̀gị̀rị́). It is a fleshy oval-shaped fruit that is green when unripe and turns yellow when fully ripe. The botanical name for its tree is Irvingia gabonensis. In English, it is known as dika nut. It is a multipurpose fruit native to West and Central Africa.

Here are some Western African countries Ọ̀gbọ̀nọ́ is native to Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. It is also consumed in Cameroon, Central Africa.

Though also consumed by other tribes in the South West, Ọ̀gbọ̀nọ́ is home to the South Eastern tribe, the Igbos. 

The following are different names of Dika nut in Nigeria

  • Igbos: Ọ̀gbọ̀nọ́
  • Yorubas: apon
  • Efik: uyo
  • Nupe: pekpeara
  • Bini(Edo): ogwi 

Harvesting Ọ̀gbọ̀nọ́

The Ọ̀gbọ̀nọ́ fruits are available from May to September, with peak harvesting in June and July. They are a source of carbohydrates, fat and protein. They can be eaten raw, roasted, or ground and cooked with meat, vegetables, and spices. 

After the Ụ̀gị̀rị́i fruit is consumed, the seed is left to dry for days and split to obtain a pearly white ovoid kernel that is sun-dried.

The kernel is then ground into a powdery form and used as the food thickener.

Health Benefits of Ọ̀gbọ̀nọ́

Ọ̀gbọ̀nọ́’s viscosity is a giveaway to its fat content. According to scientific research, it raises the levels of high-density lipoprotein ‘good’ cholesterol. It may also promote weight loss in overweight and obese adults and reduce inflammation.

In addition, they are also nutritious because they are rich in calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. They are also good sources of antioxidants, including polyphenols, carotenoids and flavonols.

It is a great defence against diabetes. Although it increases insulin sensitivity, it lowers blood glucose, waist circumference and triglycerides in patients with metabolic syndrome. It is especially effective when cooked as a low-sodium dish with another resourceful vegetable abundant in the southeast- bitter leaf or Ólúgbù.

How to prepare Ọ̀gbọ̀nọ́ Dish

The soup is loosely termed draw soup. It is very easy to make and gives a rich earthy flavour to the palate. It is enjoyed with any type of swallow- garri, fufu, amala, wheat, oat etc.

To cook ogbono soup, put beef (or any meat of choice) into a pot, and season with cubed, salt and pepper after it simmers. Allow beef to cook until almost tender, then add ground ogbono. Allow to cook, add a splash of water to loosen the soup. Add leafy greens, ground crayfish and palm oil. Allow to cook on a simmer for around five minutes or until the greens are tender. Take the pot off the heat and enjoy with any swallow (cereal dough). 

Ọ̀gbọ̀nọ́ is perhaps the most powerful food thickener known to Africans. It must be prepared with a keen eye.

The soup is prepared to the consumer’s preference. Some prefer their soup with less oil, some thicker, some lighter. 

Finally, Ọ̀gbọ̀nọ́ soup is enjoyed by all ages, tribes and foreign nations. 

In Nigeria, it is abundant in the market at retail or wholesale prices. In countries like the US and England, it is sold in African shops. 

Written by: Cinnamon Okwandu 

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