When thinking of a Naija cuisine, the first thing that comes to mind is soup. The reason? Soups are the essential feature of most Nigerian meals.
From the North to the South, to the East and West; across the diverse ethnic regions of Nigeria, there are a thousand and one kinds of soup. And interestingly, each soup is named after the main ingredient used in cooking it.
Miyan Kuka is one of such soups. Traditional to Northern Nigeria, this soup is made from ground baobab (kuka) leaves. Native to the African continent, India and Australia, Baobab trees are extremely versatile and healthful. Often referred to as a tree of life, their nutrient-dense fruits and leaves are considered superfoods. Why? Just one fruit contains six times as much vitamin C in oranges, a double quantity of calcium in milk, and loads of Vitamins A, B, D & E, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and antioxidants.
Baobab health benefits are massive. Immunity boost, elimination of free radicals to reduce cancer risks and cardiovascular diseases, liver detoxification, anti-inflammation, pain-relief amongst many others is benefits of eating this superfood. The roots and barks are also not left out as they are an integral part of traditional medicine amongst the natives. And the seeds? Brimming with antioxidant vitamins and Omega 3, 6 & 9 essential fatty acids, oil extract from Baobab seeds are used as a soothing, rejuvenating skin care serum and moisturiser.
The leaves of baobab are enjoyed commonly as vegetables. Dried and ground into fine green powder, they are used in making the soup Miyan kuka also known as "luru", a relish enjoyed mainly in the North. Though often misjudged and shunned by those who don't know it due to its greenish colour, Miyan kuka is flavorful. The soup is best enjoyed cooked with dried catfish and should be lump-free.
Let's make some.
- 3 Tbsps Baobab leaf powder (Kuka)
- Beef (assorted)
- Dried Catfish (preferred quantity)
- Fresh locust beans
- 1 Tbsp ground ginger
- 3 Scotch bonnets (atarugu/ata rodo)
- 2 Tbsps Crayfish
- 1 Cooking spoon palm oil
- Salt and seasoning to taste
Thoroughly wash dried fish and leave to soak in hot water for some minutes. Debone and set aside.
Wash beef, season well and cook. While meat is cooking, blend pepper and dawadawa into a paste. When meat is soft, add a cup of water (quantity of water may vary with the volume of soup). Also add the pepper/iru paste, the ground ginger, crayfish, dried fish and palm oil.
Stir well and taste for salt (adjust with seasoning cubes if needed). Leave to boil some more then remove beef and fish into a bowl and set aside (a necessary procedure for the smooth blending of kuka into the broth).
Turn off the heat and gradually whisk in the kuka powder with a spoon. When you have your desired consistency, pour back the beef/fish into the pot, turn on the heat and cook for 3 minutes.
Your Miyan kuka is ready. Serve with any choice of swallow though best enjoyed with tuwo shinkafa.