Esa soup like never before
When you hear that Nigeria is blessed with so many resources, it’s not just human and minerals. Food is certainly one of the resources that we should be seriously considering exporting. And I’m referring to native recipes and not even the contemporary versions that many of our young kitchen entrepreneurs are inventing and marketing daily.
In Makurdi, Maggi’s host Bunmi, introduces us to nine different kinds of soups, all original to Benue state. Think about that for a moment and then consider that there are 35 states in Nigeria (excluding the FCT). About how much food variety does Nigeria then account for? The answer is why you must watch the weekly Maggi Delicious Naija show to experience the richness of food, the diversity of culture, and learn a bit of Nigerian history while on the journey.
Do you know there are still homes where dinner is compulsorily eaten together and from the same bowl? In this episode of Delicious Naija, John and Linda Adinmayi explain that family meal time is one of the strong cords that binds their family of four. But before we encounter the Adinmayis’ home, Bunmi first introduces us to Benue’s beauty queen, Igyuse Rinnah Iveren.
The ladies sit outdoor at a table draped in red. While Igyuse runs through her beauty credentials and eulogises her state, a lady comes in with a tray of food and then another tray, and then another, and then another… and by the time the contents are fully assembled, there are nine different kinds of soups and two bowls of pounded yam! Welcome to Piano eating! Where to start from? The names. Gege, okro, aturu, nNune, sa are some of them. Indeed, Benue is the food basket of the nation.
Benue is in middle belt Nigeria and has beautiful soil that supports both grain and tuber farming. Add to this, the huge Benue river running through the entire land and you have a harvest of land and sea food. It is also immensely famous for delicious big yam tubers, perfect for pounding. When Bunmi and Linda visit the Makurdi Modern market, it is quite a sight. They shop for beniseed (or sesame seed), chicken, stockfish, some pepper, dawadawa (also called Ugba), some fresh spinach, bitter leaf and Maggi crayfish among others.
Esa soup is made primarily with sesame seeds or beniseed. The dry seeds are first fried and then blended, mixed with onion, and then used quite generously in the already boiling broth, which is quickly followed by bitter leaf and spinach. The finished sight is something very close to egusi bursting with green and red specks courtesy of fresh spinach and piping red tatashe, with the chicken and dried fish sitting quite regal in the mix! The best escort for this kind of assembly is nothing but mortar-pounded Benue yam. Little wonder John would pay frequent visits to the kitchen while his meals are being cooked confessing that the aroma always draws him in.
This soup is bursting with not just colours but lots of vitamins and minerals. Beniseed aka sesame seed contains minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorous. It is also a good source of vitamins, fibre, natural oils (great for the skin) and omega 3 fatty acids. Dawadawa or locust bean is also a good source of protein and is known to improve sight and lower blood pressure when fermented.
The food journeys of Delicious Naija can always be watched at 7.30 pm Saturday on Africa Magic (Family), at 5.00 pm Sunday on NTA and at 5.30 pm Friday on Arewa24.