In this latest edition of our recipes page, we bring you a different kind of dish. So far we have given you recipes for everyday main dishes and snacks. The current recipe is for a salad.

The Ugba salad is made from a flat, wide (about 2 inches in diameter and one eight to a quarter of an inch thick) seed produced by the oil bean tree. It has a nearly unpronounceable scientific name, Pentaclethra macrophylla Bentham. So we’ll stick with Ugba. The Ugba tree is common in the eastern part of Nigeria. Though referred to as a bean, the seeds are not really beans, however, they grow in pods, much like legume beans.

It may not be likely to find ugba — made from these seeds — in African grocery stores in Europe or America. The reason being that ugba does not keep well. Ugba must be used within two weeks or it would ferment to the point of rot. The unfermented ugba may keep longer if kept in airtight cellophane wrapping.

The preparation of the oil bean seed to make ugba begins with cooking of the seeds, slicing the cooked seeds into thin strips and washing and fermenting them for 3 to 4 days before use. When first sliced, the ugba has a grayish white color, after fermentation it turns dark brown. Then it is ready for use in salads.

Usually, you do not have to bother with the above preparation. Ugba comes in pre-prepared strips ready to go into your salad.

As I mentioned earlier, you may not find the actual ugba in stores outside Nigeria. But you never know, there may be one or two intrepid merchants out there who have found ways to import and preserve Ugba long enough to sell them.

In any case, do not worry, if you can not find the ugba, there is a variety of ingredients for making the African salad. The basic ingredients (without the ugba) are the same and easily available in African stores in Europe or America. The ugba itself may be considered part of the roughage used in the salad, and there are a number of vegetables that can substitute for roughage. Any of these vegetables can also be used in combination with or without Ugba to make the salad.

Use of a basic set of ingredients ensures that you always get that unique taste of the African salad.

Everything you need, except perhaps the Ugba slices itself, for this dish can be found in your local grocery store.


Ugba: The african Salad


Basic Ingredients For Making Ugba Salad (Serves six)

      (1) Palm Oil (450g or 1lb)
      (2) Liquid Potash (Potassium Carbonate — Dissolved white solid in water)
      (3) Hot Pepper — 2 whole
      (4) Crayfish — 1 Whole sliced
      (5) Salt to taste
Roughage For Preparation of African Salads

      (1) Abacha or processed cassava slices
      (2) Garden Eggs
      (3) Ukazi Leaves
      (4) Ugba
      (5) Leaf of Garden Egg Plant
      (6) Onions
Other Ingredients That May be Used in African Salads

      (1) Stockfish (Dry codfish)
      (2) Kpomo or Cow skin
      (3) Smoked fish
Preparing The African Salad:

  • The Salad Cream
  • Shell coconuts, wash and grate the meat into a bowl.
  • Using the 5 cups of water (about 1.5 cups at time) soak the grated coconut meat and strain the milky water into a clean bowl. Repeat the soak and strain until the gratings are free of milk.
  • In a large cooking pot with about 1/8 cup of water, bring pork chops and chopped onions to a boil.
  • Add salt, black pepper and ground fresh chilies.
  • Stir, cover and let cook for 2 minute.
  • Add vegetable oil, stir, cover and cook for additional minute.
  • Add 5 cups of coconut milk water and bring to a boil.
  • Add rice, cover and cook at high heat for 5 minutes
  • Lower heat and continue cooking till rice is done – no more excess water (5-15 minutes)
  • Turn off stove, remove from heat and serve.
  • Serve meal for four, one pork chop per person. Garnish each dish with green peas or lightly steamed vegetables.
Bon appétit!

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