Mmm, that sweet aroma fills your entire kitchen, indicating that your Banga Rice or soup is ready to eat with either Eba (Garri), starch, fufu, amala, Semovita, etc., when you smell the sumptuous goodness in the air, mmm, how heavenly!
Once you put a spoonful in your mouth, your taste buds explode because of the wonderful combination of ingredients that gives it marvelous sweetness. You could literally overfeed yourself on Banga soup because of how delicious it tastes.
Before we get down to business, do you know what Banga is, its uses, and its nutritional value?
You are in luck because coming right up are some things to know about Banga, some of which you are aware of, others you learn today by reading this article. So do not stop till you get to the bottom. After all, the ‘End is better than the Beginning‘, eh?
Banga Rice is a traditional Nigerian rice recipe. It is the raw oil/juice gotten from boiling, pounding, and squeezing the palm nut. You can use the already prepared tinned palm fruit concentrate for cooking the Banga Rice, or you can get the palm fruit and prepare it yourself.
The English name for Banga is Palm nut. Palm-nut is the edible seed of the African oil palm fruit (Elaeis guineensis).
Do you know that we obtain two different oils from it? That is the Palm Oil and Kernel Oil? Now you do.
Banga is a popular dish in some parts of Nigeria; if you have not tasted it, then your taste buds are really missing out on some good stuff.
People call it different names in various parts of Nigeria, but it originated in Delta state from the Urhobos and Itsekiri ethnic groups. Now, it is known far and wide. (1)
- Yoruba- West (obe eyin)
- Eastern part (ofe akwu)
- Itsekiri – (Ekpo)
- Bayelsa – (lii fulou or luu fiai)
- Akwa –Ibom/Cross River – (efere abak/atama)
Countries like Cameroon refer to it as Mbanga soup, and Ghanaians name it Abenkwan.
All parts of this fruit are useful; Cooking, Cosmetics, Skin and Hair Products, etc., are all its products. The juice extracted from this fruit is different from the red palm oil used for cooking in Nigeria, but the juice is the heart of Banga. The red oil is extracted on high heat, making it contain more saturated fats than the juice.
After mining the juice, it is cooked with other ingredients such as fish, snail, or assorted meat and spiced up with disparate flavors to give you a mouth-watering delight.
Palm oil and juice are derived from the outer parts, while kernel oil is from the inside. Dry it to crack the shell to get the kernel.
How To Prepare Banga Juice
To prepare your delicious Banga rice delicacies, you will need the extract from the Palm-nut. There are two ways to process your Banga to get what you want.
Note, the Palm-nut is also a crucial part of the sweetness of your food. Your food will thank you for picking the right Palm-nut.
STEP 1: Manually
Be warned; this process involves a lot of strenuous and tedious work.
- Wash the fruits and put them into a pot. Boil them with enough water.
- Boil them until they are soft and well done; The flesh will easily peel off from the nut, and you can even eat one to taste it.
- While they are still hot, drain off the water and put the fruits in a mortar. Your pestle is very vital here, for it is essential to the making of Banga Juice.
Now, this is where all the hard work is; I hope you are ready. Put on your working face, fold your clothes if you want to, and Pound!
- Pound until the flesh splits from the nuts and it forms a smooth pulp or mesh. Pounding when the fruits are still hot makes it easier for them to detach from the nuts.
- Separate the mesh and nut; this is easier when you are to squeeze the mesh.
- Wash the nut in a different bowl with water and spread for it to dry.
- Scoop the mesh into a bowl
- Use your hand to squeeze as much of an extract from the mesh.
- Then sieve the liquid gotten from the mesh, put it into a pot, and boil again until it thickens to your liking.
And that is how you do it manually, but you can do it the easy and stress-free way using a food processor.
STEP 2: Food Processor
Do this using a food processor, and your Banga liquid will be ready in less time with no hassle.
- Rinse the palm nuts
- Place the palm nut in a pot with water and allow it to boil.
- Cook for 30 minutes (for it to become soft)
- Drain the palm fruit, and while still piping hot, pour it into the food processor bowl according to its capacity.
- Process on high for about 2-3 minutes, and check if there are still a few kernels that are still whole. Repeat till satisfied.
- Empty into a bowl and pour boiling water into it and stir well.
- Be mindful of the hot water you use because you will need to boil the extract until it has thickened to the consistency you need for your recipe.
- Set a sieve over a clean pot, pour the extract into the sieve, and squeeze out as much extract as possible from the mesh. Repeat if it is too small. Most times, there will still be a lot of palm juice remaining in the mesh.
- Leave the extract to settle for about 5 minutes and pour into a pan. Be careful not to spew in the last bit of extract because if there are sand or kernel pieces, they will settle at the bottom.
It is almost the same as the Manual process, just easier. So choose the method best suitable for you and get cooking. You can also use canned Banga juice, but I prefer traditional Banga Concentration.
You can preserve your Palm-nut Extract in the freezer for 6 months or more.
We all know that Banga soup, when cooked properly, is a killer, but while Banga soup is bliss, the rice is no different.
Note: Banga soup is also used as a sauce to eat rice.
Your Homemade Banga Soup
Soups and stews are a tremendous part of African cuisine, and we have a lot of them other than Banga soup. Only looking at a photograph of Banga Soup or considering it makes me salivate. One aspect of this soup is that you have to attempt it with one-of-a-kind leaves. Examples are Banga and Oha leaf, Banga, and Atama.
You can be more adventurous by including okra in it.
The Ingredients You Need For Banga Soup
- For red meat, you may use any meat of your preference, like tripe, cow leg, or every other red meat, as your heart desires.
- You can use onions of either kind, like white, yellow, or red.
- Cameroon Pepper
- Seasoning powder or Bouillon cubes
- Stockfish or Okporoko soaked in warm water
- Palm-nut Extract
- Scotch bonnets
- Banga Spice is a combined aggregate of Irugeje and Taiko
- Crushed Obeletientien leaves or Dried bitter leaves.
- Oburunbebe stick
- Dried fish – soaked in warm water and deboned
- Water/stock (very vital)
- grounded crayfish
- Salt to taste
The Steps You Need To Prepare Banga Soup
- Rinse the beef, and pour the diced onions, Cameroon pepper, seasoning powder, and salt. Stir and leave to boil.
- Add the stockfish and wait for 10 minutes.
- Remove the beef, stockfish, and meat from the pot and set aside.
- Pour the palm nut (Banga juice) into the pot. Add little water and leftover meat stock from the boiled meat. Cover and cook till the oil starts to waft on the surface of the soup.
- Meanwhile, mix the scotch bonnet pepper and onion and put it into the pot.
- Add the Banga spice, smoked fish, meat, seasoning powder, salt, crayfish, and Banga stick. Cover and wait for 10 minutes.
- Stir in and add your bitter leave. Leave to simmer until thickened to your liking.
- Serve warm with starch, pounded yam, semolina, garri, fufu, etc.
Each time you see Palm Nut soup or Sauce (For our yummy rice), recognize it because it is Banga, irrespective of which tribe or person cooked it. The cooking technique or approach differs, but the mystery key factor to any meal is affection and emotion.
How To Prepare Banga Rice
Do you think you can cook delicious Banga rice? Whether you can cook or not, this recipe is here to help you.
Cooking is an Art. Music is a passion for Artists; Drawing is to Painters as cooking is to chefs or upcoming chefs.
The art of cooking is when you combine different components to bring delicious goodness to life. It is not putting things inside a pot and waiting for it to be ready but choosing the right time and right proportion of things to put in.
First things first, you need to know that Banga Rice is a combination of Banga Sauce and Rice prepared together, not cooked independently and eaten together. Banga Soup can replace the juice if you do not have any.
For this Banga Rice, do not hold out. There is a saying, ‘Better food na money kill am.’ But what if you do not have enough cash? What then happens to your better food?
The answer is simple, cook with what you have; you can get a little of everything and enrich your food with glorious goodness.
Do not cook the Banga Rice too soft, rugged, mushy, or otherwise. Mind the quantity of water you use in your cooking; let your Banga give your rice a creamy flavor.
The following ingredients are needed to prepare the best Banga rice that will raise your taste bud to higher levels.
- Juice extracted from palm nut.
- Smoked or fresh fish
- Chopped Onions
- Fresh Prawns (Optional)
- Fresh Pepper
- Knorr Cubes or any seasoning cube of your choice.
- Banga Spies (Optional)
- Ginger (Optional)
- Curry leaf or Scent Leaf (Optional)
- Kpomo and beef
- Garlic (This is also optional) I did not want to put this because I am not a fan of garlic, but you are not me; know that if you cook the Banga food with garlic, I will not come to your house or even eat your food.
Remember to try new things and experiment; who knows, you might find the ultimate dish.
- If you are using beef and Kpomo, wash them, place them in a pot, and season with salt, seasoning cube, onions, Cameroon pepper, and water. Cover and boil to your desired taste and softness.
- Chop or grind onions.
- Shred the scent of curry leaves.
- Steam the fresh fish or prawn in a different pot; once done, put it in a separate pan.
- Open your seasoning cubes depending on the quantity of rice.
- Grind and prepare your crayfish.
- Wash the dry fish and keep it aside.
- You can either get a ginger spice or use the herb. If you are using the herb, wash, scrape the skin off, and grate it into a plate.
- Debone your smoked fish, wash and prepare it; then steam with crayfish, seasoning cube, ginger, pepper, salt, and little water according to your fish.
Once the preparation is fully complete, it is time to let your feelings go wide.
- Boil the rice until about halfway cooked. Drain into a sieve, rinse in cold water, and set aside.
- Dissolve the Banga extract or soup in enough water to cook the amount of rice you have. Add your beef and kpomo, if you have, chopped onions, fresh pepper, the Banga spices (if any), the smoked or fresh fish, crayfish, prawn, salt, ginger, and seasoning cubes.
- Cook for 5 minutes.
- Stir and taste.
- Add the already parboiled rice to it.
- The rice grains will cook and absorb the palm fruit broth.
- Allow the rice to cook until it gets soft.
- Keep on cooking until the whole water has been absorbed, add your leaf, and stir.
- Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer.
- Leave for 3 minutes and off the heat.
- Serve your dish while it is hot.
Now that you have learned how to prepare Banga rice, let’s move on to the health benefits of this Palm Nut (Banga). Knowing the Nutritional Value of what you take is a way to live a healthy life. Do you not think so?
The Nutritional value of Banga
1. Hair and Skin
Rich in Vitamins and used in the production of cosmetics, skin and hair products, etc. Some of the products you use on yourself contain Banga (palm nut oil), but you may not know that because you do not read most of what is on the products you use, do you?
Do you even check for the expiry date? Cosmetics expire too.
I acquired this knowledge recently. What about you, did you know?
You can use the extracted juice for your hair and skin. Your hair will thicken, grow sturdy, and improve because of its significant elements. It is also great for itchy skin.
2. VAD (Vitamin A Deficiency)
Among other things, carotenoids are in Banga; it helps in growth, vision, and lots more. Children and Pregnant women need a lot of vitamins, so no case of VAD will be reported. Banga is also essential to their wellbeing and growth.
3. Dietary Fats
Banga contains fats that help to provide energy, cell growth, and more, but too much ingestion of unsaturated fat is nasty for your heart and health. Beware; Something is good does not mean you take too much of it.
4. It contains Fiber, Protein and Vitamins
Lack of vitamins is detrimental to one’s health. Vitamin is essential for healthy vision, strong bones, a great immune system, etc. It also supports the brain when delivering oxygen and glucose that aids in blood functioning and reduces heart diseases.
Palm-nut is very beneficial to everyone, mostly pregnant women, as it’s something the body needs.
5. Reduce the Risk of Excruciating Disease
They are too many health benefits of Palm nut like:
- Antioxidants (prevent stroke).
- Tocotrienol (fight cancer either of the breast, colon, skin, liver, pancreas, prostate, and stomach).
- Magnesium with vitamin B6 (reduces the effect of premenstrual syndrome symptoms such as insomnia, weight gain, bloating, leg swelling and breast tenderness Etc).
It reduces stress and allows blood circulation, thereby increasing your brain function and preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson, Alzheimer, and senile dementia.
Or other diseases like Cataracts, Diabetes, irregular heartbeat.
What makes up the healthy part of Banga are:
Beta-carotene, saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, iron, palmitic acid, choline, lauric acid, palmitoleic acid, linolenic acid, gadoleic acid, myristic acid, oleic acid, calories, etc. You can do more research to add to your knowledge.