Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Some commonly used root and species

African Black Pepper: Piper nigrum. Small black seeds dried for marketing. Grind before adding to any soup or stew to taste. It is much like the ground black or white pepper of Europe and America.
Atariko: Small seeds sold in, or removed from, an alligator pepper-like pod. Highly scented, but not as hot as alligator pepper. It is expensive so use only a few of the tiny seeds to flavour pepper soups, or banga soup with rigije. Sold in the markets by traders from the Niger-Delta areas.
Yanghanyanghan Tetrapleura tetraptera: These are long wing-been shaped pods sold dried in the market by Delta women for spice and in other locations for spice, cosmetics or dyes. Remove the inner soft portion from the ‘wings’ when dry and use ground in pepper soups.
Gbafilo: Large, egg-shaped seed with rough sandpaper-like surface. The nut, which shakes freely inside, is removed and ground for inclusion in pepper soups. Sold in the markets by traders from the Niger-Delta areas.
African nutmeg: Monodora myristical. These seeds, which are obtained from inside a large round fruit, are dried for marketing. When purchased, the seed should be opened and the inner serrated nut removed. This may be roasted over an open flame for a few seconds or used directly. Grind in a mortar or with a stone. A large quantity may be ground in a blender. The ground spice should then be stored at room temperature if well dried or in the refrigerator. In the Delta and surrounding areas, the African nutmeg may be bought at food stalls; in some other areas it is more easily found in the medicine or cosmetic sections of the markets. It is especially good in pepper soups, pottages, and with shrimp.
Enge: Xylopia aethiopica. Clusters of long black seed pods, more or less constricted between internal seeds. The long pods are broken in several places or crushed so that the seeds are broken. Use in pepper soups and other dishes. Remove the pod before serving.
Turmeric: Curcuma longa (Common name: red ginger). Root used dry for spice, in introduced curries.
Ginger: Zingiber officincale (Common name: white ginger). The root is used fresh or dried and ground for spice on meats, in moyin-moyin and in chicken dishes. Also used medicinally for catarrh, toothaches, neuralgia.
Rigije: Small brown flat seeds used with atariko in banga palm fruit pulp soups. Sold by Niger-Delta market women.
Ukpotoro Mucuna flagilipes: Black flattened seed with two grey stripes. The seed is shelled, boiled for thirty minutes and pounded with a small amount of oil before begin added to okazi vegetable soup where it provides a mucilaginous binding quality. Shelled, boiled and fermented, it can be slivered and substituted for oil bean.
Red peppers: Many varieties of red peppers, both fresh and dried, are available all year round in the market. Dry pepper is sold whole or ground and is used mainly to give hotness. Fresh pepper gives flavour, colour, thickening and hotness to foods. The seeds and membranes, which are irritating to the skin and some digestive systems, may be romoved before being used raw or cooked. Names for the most common types given below were selected because they are widely understood in urban markets.
  • Ata wewe-Small, very hot pepper which is usually dried.
  • Sombo-Long, small pepper which is usually dried. Not as hot as ata wewe.
  • Ata rodo or Atanla-Medium-sized red pepper which usually used fresh. Provision flavour, hotness and thickens the stew.
  • Tatase-Large ‘sweet’ red pepper which provides flavour and thickening. Not very hot, particularly if the seeds and membranes and removed.
  • To be continued..

RED- Local names
ITALICS- Scientific names
BOLD- Common names

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