Oto Mboro (Unripe banana porridge)
Oto Mboro is a porridge made with grated or pureed unripe bananas and vegetables. Similar to Ikokore (water yam porridge) and plantain porridge. It is delicious and healthy, so much so that it is part of the food given to young maidens who are confined in the fattening rooms of the Efik and Ibibio tribes of Cross River and Akwa Ibom states of South-South Nigeria. It is high in nutrients but quite low in calories. Oto Mboro is also ideal as a healthy weaning meal for babies.
It happened that we were at a small gathering discussing food, when my friend Helen, a fine lady from Akwa Ibom state of South-South Nigeria said that she had this tasty delicacy she will cook for me, that even her chubby delightful baby boy loves it. This dish she said is made with unripe bananas and I said, “plantains”? Helen said no bananas.
Excitedly I quickly got the ingredients on the list she gave me and we fixed a date which didn’t happen. So I disturbed her to no end until she finally came over. I absorbed and gleaned information as usual, by the time Oto Mboro was set before me, I understood why she was raving about it and it was surely worth the wait.
You need to use unripe banana which is easier to grate. Use the tiny grater just like when grating water yam for Ojojo. You can also use the grating disc of the food processor. This quantity of unripe banana will give about 1 1/3 cups of grated banana.
Any of these can also be added to the dish, crab, prawns, periwinkle, stockfish etc. Some people add scent leaf or uziza leaf. To take Oto Mboro a notch higher, leave it overnight in the fridge, then warm and eat the next day. During this warming, a toasty crust forms at the bottom, similar to the treasured socarrat at the bottom of the Spanish paella. Scrape it into your Oto Mboro and enjoy.
To prepare Oto Mboro (Unripe banana porridge)
160g beef 700g unripe banana dry fish 1 cup chopped onions (1 medium) 2 scotch bonnet, chopped 1 1/2 tablespoons crayfish 1/4 cup palm oil 2 seasoning cubes salt 45g ugu vegetable
Wash and cut meat into small cubes and place in a pot.
Season with salt, add half of the chopped onions, pepper and a little water.
Boil meat until tender.
Meanwhile, wash and peel green bananas.
Using a knife, scrape off the thin membrane covering the flesh of the banana.
Grate banana to a puree, use a fine grater, food processor or a blender with very little water.
Wash and remove bones from dry fish, wash and shred ugu vegetable, set aside.
To the cooked meat add water, dry fish, onions, crayfish, palm oil and seasoning cubes, stir and cover.
Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add a little salt to the grated banana and drop in spoonfuls using your fingers or a spoon, into the broth and cover immediately, do not stir. If you must, just gently shake the pot.
Cook until banana lumps have firmed up about 3 minutes.
Stir gently and allow some breaking up of the banana lumps.
Cover and cook until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
You will hear a slight sizzling of the oil, add ugu and stir very well.
Cover and cook for about 1 minute and take off the heat. Oto Mboro is ready.
- To peel green bananas, cut off about 1 inch from the top and bottom. Run your knife along the ridges lengthwise as deep as the skin goes. Peel off the skin segment by segment.
- Failure to scrape off the thin membrane or long stringy bits on the flesh of the unripe bananas will result in your Oto Mboro having a tangy taste similar to the sourness in tomatoes.
- Do not overcrowd the pot with the banana puree, so that the boiling sauce will be able to cook and firm up the puree.
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