“Ewedu’’ soup gaining recognition beyond borders as nourishing diet

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By Grace Yussuf, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Without any seen or heard of paid advertisement anywhere in Abuja, there is
no denying the fame of a local restaurant in the federal capital, run by a lady
simply known as Iya Ibeji.

Her only form of advertisement is the delicious, well prepared “amala’’(yam
powder mash) served with fresh  “ewedu’’ soup and “gbegiri’’ (beans soup)
that attract deluge of people from all works of life, especially civil servants.

And after enjoying this Yoruba delicacy, her clientele go back to spread the
good news, which attracts more customers every day.

“Amala’’ eaten with “ewedu’’ and “gbegiri’’ soup, though popular among the
Yoruba of south west Nigeria, including Kwara and parts of Kogi and Edo
States as well as parts of neighbouring Benin Republic, is however, gaining
popularity beyond the ethnic group.

When “ewedu’’ soup is served with “gbegiri’’ soup and sandwiched with
assorted meat parts — “orisirisi’’ — lovers of the combination say it
complements the eating of “amala’’ very well.

Although “ewedu’’ soup alone could be taken without “gbegiri’’ in some cases,
it depends on the choice of individuals and the type of food they want to take.

Mrs Mopelola Ayodele, an indigene of Ibadan, south western part of Nigeria,
says she grew up to know “ewedu’’ soup from her mother and she (Mopelola)
usually prepares it to eat “amala’’, “eba’’ or any other solid (swallow) food.

“It is our main soup for meals and we make it very well. In fact, we are the best
and if you want to eat better ewedu soup and gbegiri soup with amala, come to
Ibadan, you will not eat any other meal again,’’ she boasts.

“Ewedu’’ has, however, gained prominence beyond the south-western part of
Nigeria to the other parts of the country and abroad.

Jute leaf is called “ewedu’’ in Yoruba, “achingbara’’ in Igbo and “rama or
ayoyo’’

Research shows that in Ghana, “ewedu’’ is called “ayoyo’’ eaten by the people
in northern part of that country.

Similarly, in Sierra Leone it is known as “krain krain’’ and called “murere’’ in
western Kenya.

It is not unusual to notice advertisements presenting “ewedu-gbegiri-amala’’
combination to the public as a bait for customers in big cities such as Lagos,
Ibadan and even the Federal Capital Territory.

Further to this, “ewedu-gbegiri-amala’’ combination has become one of the
top meals on the menu lists of many restaurants, including some big hotels,
even across some Nigerian border cities.

“Ewedu’’ is one of the common African leafy vegetables cultivated in gardens
that has been in existence and eaten by humans since the beginning of 6,000
BC, research has shown.

Apart from this, nutritionists and mothers describe “ewedu soup’’ as
nutritious, presenting many health benefits.

They recommend “ewedu’’’ soup as a veritable vegetable that can fight off
cancer because it contains Vitamins A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E that prevent
tissue damage.

Medical experts note that “ewedu’’ soup is also beneficial in the fight against
prostate cancer, ovarian cancer and colon cancer.

They note that sufferers of dry scaly skin can make “ewedu’’ soup a part of
their regular diet to help keep the skin soft, supple and smooth.

They also claim that Vitamin A and Vitamin E in “ewedu’’ leaf is known for its
anti-ageing properties and can help to reduce the visibility of fine lines, age
spots and wrinkles.

In their views, the aromatherapy from “ewedu’’ leaf is suitable for treating
asthma and the content of anti-inflammatory substances in ewedu leaf can
work to heal the inflammation of the lungs.

Mr Gbenga Jagun, a dietician-nutritionist, describes “ewedu soup as a
pharmacy on your plate because of its numerous nutritional-health benefits.’’

According to him, the soup is a good source of vitamins and mineral elements
such as calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin K and Folic
acid.

He also says the soup is rich in both essential and non-essential amino acid
such as lysine, antioxidants and photochemical that can prevent cancer and
coronary diseases.

“It also contributes to the feeling of satiation and satisfaction associated with
eating; preventing constipation due to the presence of fibre in it.

“It is ideal in cases of obesity which helps to maintain body weight because it
has almost no fat and the calorie content is very low.

“It a good anti-anemic (prevents anaemia) due to high iron content and
facilitates the production of red blood cells.

“It is an excellent and appropriate food for the elderly because of its calcifying
action (supply calcium),’’ he explains.

Mrs Stella Ojo, a nurse with a Federal Government agency in Abuja, advises
everyone to make “ewedu’’ part of daily diet because of its numerous health
benefits.

“It is affordable for both rich and poor, the pregnant are also advised to steam
it and drink it for at least once a day.

“You can give it to babies either with any soft food, rice or better still, let them
drink it with spoon,’’ she advises.

Ojo also observes that “ewedu’’ soup can also be used to for interference in
women during menstrual period.

“Premenstrual Syndrome is a symptom of a disturbance experienced by a
woman that results in an emotional change and “ewedu” soup has been proven
to be effective in that regard.

“In fact, women who have experienced menopause are also recommended to
consume “ewedu’’ soup because this plant can increase estrogen substances in
the body that will reduce hot flashes and other vaginal disorders,’’ she says.

The National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan, has
therefore, produced a practical guide on the production and harvesting of
“ewedu’’, leveraging on its nutritional values.

NIHORT claims that “ewedu’’ grows well during the rainy season in the
Savanna and Sahel vegetation zones.

According to the guide, it is cultivated where annual rainfall average is
between 600 millimetres and 2000 millimetres with optimal temperature.

“Ewedu’’ Soup RecipeIngredients:
I Big Bunch of Ewedu Leaves
2 Cups of Water
1 Tablespoon locust beans (Iru)
1 Heaped tablespoon ground crayfish
1 cube of seasoning
Salt to taste

Preparation:

Pick Ewedu leaves, make sure you don’t pick the stalk/stem along with it.

Wash the leaves thoroughly to rid it of dirt. Pour the water into a medium size
pan, place on a bob on medium heat, bring to a rolling boil.

Add the Ewedu leaves and boil for two minutes, then add the locust beans,
continue to boil till tender, this should take roughly 8-10 minutes

If you’re using a short broom (Ijabe), use the broom to pound the leaves but if
you’re using a blender, take the Ewedu off the heat and leave to cool for a
bit…don’t switch the heat off.

Add the Ewedu into a blender along with the Iru, make sure you don’t add all
the water, just half a cup should do. Too much water will affect the viscosity of
your Ewedu.

Using the pulse function, pulse a few times until you get a semi-purée
consistency, then transfer the Ewedu back into the pan, add the ground
crayfish, cube and salt to taste.

Switch off the heat and let it simmer with the residual heat for three minutes.
Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Do not overcook or the Ewedu will go
brown.

“Gbegiri’’ soup recipe:

Ingredients:

2 Cups of black eyed or brown beans
3 Tablespoons palm oil
2 Tablespoons crayfish powder
1 Tablespoon locust beans (Iru)
1-2 Tablespoons ground dried pepper
1cube of seasoning
Salt to taste

Preparation:

Soak and peel your beans. You can peel it by hand or pulse in a jug blender.

Add the peeled beans into a pot, place on a hob on high heat. Add water and
cook till very soft and mushy.

Be careful not to add too much water, you can start with two cups and add as

you go, if necessary. Do not add salt.

Mash up the beans when soft. Save time and energy by blending till smooth in
your jug blender.

If you’re using a blender, be sure to wait until the beans have cooled down a
bit before blending so you don’t risk damaging your blender. Add water to the
beans before blending, not too much though, say half a cup.

If you used a short broom to mash the beans, you’ll need to pass the paste
through a sieve to remove clumps and get a really smooth consistency but if
your blender is very powerful, you wouldn’t need to do this.

Now, return the paste back into the pot and on low heat this time around. You
might need to add a bit of water to the paste.

The consistency should be semi- fluid. Add the palm oil, Iru, crayfish powder,
cube for seasoning, ground pepper and salt to taste.

Be careful not to add too much palm oil, you only need a little to slightly alter
the colour of the paste.

Cook for between five minutes and seven minutes, stir occasionally to prevent
burning and it is ready when the gbegiri soup thickens a bit and the palm oil is
well combined with the paste.

Caution: Gbegiri soup thickens up really quickly, so do not be alarmed if yours does thicken up. Just add a bit of water and reheat and you’re good to go.

Courtesy: (Recipe by Sisi Jemimah Adebiyi,a nutrionist)

 

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