Ukazi Leaf (Gnetum africanum)
Some people confuse Ukazi leaves with Uziza leaves. Although they appear to be similar in some way, but ukazi leaves are kind of tougher. There is a special way of shredding them. You can even pound or grind them if you are cooking Afang Soup. Ukazi leaves have a slight bitter taste. Calabar and Akwa Ibom people of Nigeria are known for Afang soup. This afang is also Ukazi. So, they use the leaves to prepare this special soup which I ate last Saturday at a colleague’s house during the matriculation ceremony of her daughter at University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She is from Rivers State and had to order the leaves from Port Harcourt the previous day. But that does not mean we cannot find Ukazi leaves in Nsukka. We have people from Imo and Abia States of Nigeria who sell Ukazi leaves at Ogbete market in Nsukka. I also use Ukazi leaves to prepare egusi soup. They also sell periwinkles, both fresh and dried ones [See picture below]:
Another soup which I love using Ukazi leaves to prepare is this special Calabar Edikaikong soup which I learnt from fellow Youth Corper during my NYSC at Niger State. She is from Rivers State and planted the leaves in her farm on our compound. So precious as the leaves were to her, she ordered them from her State and planted them. She was always watering them and it was a wonderful experience back then as I also planted mine. I had a garden where I planted beans, corn, etc.
Looking at the above picture of kpomo and dried periwinkles, no other thing comes to mind than Afang Soup and Edikaikong. The cow skin or kpomo/kanda is usually shredded in bits. The dried periwnkles come alive, fresh and green when you soak it in warm water for some minutes before cooking.