African breadfruit Porridge, Ukwa Porridge
African breadfruit porridge, Ukwa porridge has a delicate but muted sweetness, a flavour peculiar to it. It tastes so good, it can be eaten just boiled without the addition of any other ingredient even salt. African breadfruit, Ukwa (treculia africana) is very nutritious and excellent for vegetarians. It has oils rich in unsaturated fat (good fat), vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and folic acid. It is eaten mainly by the Igbos of southeastern Nigeria.
Ukwa can be prepared and eaten in so many different ways from plain with no additional ingredient right to going the whole nine yards with embellishments and accompaniments. Each and every way is awesome. Toasted ukwa is a snack that is enjoyed with coconut or palm kernel nuts.
Breadfruit is an expensive food ingredient especially when not in season, so most households will reserve it for special occasions during the offseason.
Akanwu (potash) is used to aid and quicken the cooking of Ukwa. Cooked alone, it will take like forever to cook and will never really get desirably soft and mushy, I have not tried cooking it in the pressure pot. Ngu, an alternative to akanwu, is derived from burning dry palm fronds and collecting the ash. This ash is called ngu, it is not as commonly available as akanwu. Ngu also acts as an emulsifying agent in the preparation of Abacha ncha, Ugba salad, Okazi (Afang) salad, Homework, goat trotters in spicy sauce (nkwobi) etc.
Some people add onions, groundnut oil etc, all unconventional and modern additions to ukwa. Personally, I don’t enjoy these but hey, it’s your pot of ukwa you can give it a try.
Tips about African breadfruit, Ukwa
- Unlike most carbohydrates that increase in volume with cooking, ukwa reduces in volume e.g. 5 cups of ukwa will give you about 3 1/4 packed cups of cooked ukwa. Always account for this when estimating the quantity to cook.
- Always buy ukwa seeds that are whole and soft, not broken up into lots of tiny bits.
- It should have a strong pleasant aroma of ukwa.
- It should not be all glossy and hard, you should be able to crush it easily between your fingers.
- Ukwa is sold fresh or dry.
- Fresh ukwa needs to be cooked as soon as possible especially if you live in a particularly hot and humid environment.
- If you are not going to cook your fresh ukwa immediately after purchase, spread it out on a tray and place under the sun or in an airy place and stir and spread from time to time.
- Putting uncooked fresh ukwa in the freezer is a hit or miss. Most times, the freezing affects the texture when it is finally cooked. It is better to air dry uncooked fresh ukwa or cook it then store in the freezer.
- If uncooked fresh ukwa is left uncooked for sometimes just a day, you will notice a hint of green colouration. Wash thoroughly and cook.
- Once it begins to undergo this change colour, mould will invade it and it will become slimy. At this point it is inedible, throw it away.
- If after the addition of akanwu, your ukwa doesn’t soften, it might be that you bought the bad or poorly processed ukwa.
Possible add-ins for African breadfruit porridge, Ukwa porridge
For 5 cups of African breadfruit (Ukwa) 5 Fresh, unprocessed bitter leaf (onugbu leaves) 8 leaves scent leaf 40g processed bitter leaf (onugbu leaves) 1/2 cup sweet corn 1/4 cup ugba (oil bean) dry fish smoked fish stock fish goat meat
You can use any of the leaves in combination with a protein of choice.
Either Ugba or sweet corn can be added.
On the other hand, you can omit all and just serve it plain.
To prepare African breadfruit porridge, Ukwa porridge
5 cups Ukwa (breadfruit) 1 tablespoon akanwu (pottash) 1 tablespoon palm oil salt scotch bonnet (fresh pepper) optional 8-10 leaves scent leaf
(If using any protein, boil and fry, grill or turn in a pepper/onion sauce).
In a small bowl, place akanwu, add 1/4 cup water, stir well and set aside to allow any sand in it to settle at the bottom of the bowl.
Pick out dirt from ukwa, place in a bowl of water and wash.
Wash by gently rubbing handfuls of ukwa between your palms in the bowl of water and ensuring the seeds do not break up. Scoop ukwa out of the water, discard dirty water. Do this several times to ensure there is no sand in the ukwa.
Put ukwa in a pot add enough water to reach about 3 inches above, place over medium-high heat.
Boil until the water turns milky.
Swirl akanwu gently and add 3-4 tablespoons of the akanwu liquid, the cooking liquid will immediately turn pale yellow.
Cover and continue cooking.
Cook until the ukwa is soft.
Place a sieve over a bowl and pour ukwa and cooking liquid into the sieve.
Place the ukwa back into the pot and set the cooking liquid aside.
Add to the pot about 1/4 cup of the ukwa water, palm oil, salt, pepper and scent leaf.
Stir well, cover and lower heat to medium.
Cook until your ukwa is almost dry.
Add sweet corn, stir and take off the heat.
It will absorb the little water remaining, that way it won’t end up dry.
Your Breadfruit porridge is ready to be served.
Serve with the cooking liquid or use this liquid to prepare Ukwa soup.
- When washing ukwa, the water will be cloudy, don’t worry that the nutrients are leaching out, there is plenty where that came from.
- If after about 45 minutes your ukwa is not soft, add more akanwu/ngu liquid.
- If ukwa is soft but the grains are standing alone like well-cooked rice, add a little more akanwu/ngu water.
- Don’t mash the ukwa seeds to make it look like a porridge. If you need to do that, it means you didn’t add enough akanwu/ngu or you bought the bad type of ukwa. You will end up with a mash of ukwa mixed with hard seeds, very unpalatable.
You will also enjoy my African breadfruit pottage (Ukwa etelu ete), African breadfruit soup (Ukwa soup), Adalu (Beans and corn Porridge) and Plantain porridge. Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.
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