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Yam Botanical name – Dioscorea alata
It is April and rainy season is beginning to set in, especially in the Eastern part of Nigeria. Yesterday in Nsukka, it rained heavily from night till today’s morning. The weather was really cozy and sweet, creating a room for a sound sleep. Whenever this happens, one thinks of what will be taken down the stomach and of course, a cold drink is a no…no, as well as the regular food we eat. That is why I thought of a hot, pepperish dish to go with the weather, and guess what? What came to my mind was ‘ji mmiri oku’.
This is popularly eaten in Igbo land and is also known as Yam peppersoup. This dish is usually served to young mothers during omugwo, to help wash their stomach or womb and bring it back to shape, especially with the help of some ingredients used in preparing it such as uda and ehuru. Also, during Iri Ji Ohuru in Igbo land, otherwise known as New Yam Festival (Ofala), this delicacy is prepared with assorted meat to have a taste of the newly harvested yams. It is usually taken very hot. Now, let’s see how I prepared mine:
1. One small sized tuber of yam, preferrably Nwa opoko species
2. Half eating plate of dry fish
3. Three tablespoonfuls of crayfish
4. A mix of red and yellow pepper (ose Nsukka), like 4 balls
5. Dried Uziza seeds
6. Uda and Ehuru
7. Two stock cubes
8. One cooking spoon of palm oil
10. Few scent leaves or any other
8.Salt to taste
1. Use warm water to soak the dry fish to remove any dirt and to soften it a bit
2. In the pot, put a little water and allow it to boil
3. Blend the crayfish and pepper together and put in the pot
4. After 3 minutes, put the stock cubes and salt to taste, then allow to boil for five minutes
5. Put the largely diced yam in the pot and allow to boil for about 20 minutes
6. Put a little red oil just to colour it a bit. Too much oil takes up the taste of the ingredients.
7. Allow to boil till the yam is done, but not too soft.
9. Turn off the burner and put the leaf so the heat will soften it. I didn’t have scent leaf, so I used celery leaf to garnish.
10. Dish on a plate and serve.
Note that you do not need to use your wooden spoon to turn the yam so it wouldn’t turn to porridge.You need the water.