Culinary, headlines, Latest, Weekend
By News desk
While many globally were settling for Chicken and Pork meat to celebrate the yuletide, Indians have accepted to settle for Rats during the season.
Freshly-caught rat is at the top of the menu for crowds flocking to a market in northeastern India that specialises in rodents from local fields.
Destined to be boiled, skinned and then cooked in a spicy gravy, rat is more popular than chicken and pork with customers at the Sunday market in the village of Kumarikata in Assam state.
Shoppers buy hundreds of freshly caught and skinned rats that local farmers say are hunted to avoid damage to their fields in the state which borders Bhutan. The ready-roasted kind also goes down well.
Rat has become a valuable source of income for the poor “Adivasi” tribal people who struggle to make ends meet working in Assam’s famed tea gardens.
In the winter months when tea picking slumbers, the Adivasis go to rice paddies to trap rats for the market.
A kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of rat meat, which is considered a delicacy, sells for about $2.8— as much as for chicken and pork.
Farmers say the region has seen growing numbers of rats in recent years.
“We put traps in the fields as the rats eat people’s paddy,” Samba Soren, a rat vendor at Kumarikata said.
The rodents are hunted at night during the harvesting season with traps made from bamboo.
The traps are placed at the entrance of the rat-holes in the evening and the rodents are caught as they come out to scavenge.
The vendors have to work at night to make sure other predators do not get to the dead rats first. Some of the rats weigh more than a kilogramme and the market traders say they get between 10 and 20 kilogrammes a night.
Culinary, headlines, Latest, Weekend
Bitterleaf soup is one of the most traditional soups in Nigeria. It is native to the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria.
The name is quite misleading in that a well prepared Bitterleaf Soup should not have even the slightest bitterness. This is achieved by washing and squeezing the bitter leaves (and changing the water at intervals) till all traces of bitterness has been washed off.
One will be deemed a bad cook if his/her Bitterleaf soup tastes bitter!
- Washed and squeezed bitterleaf – A handful
- 10 small corms cocoyam
- 3 cooking spoons Red Palm Oil
- Assorted Beef: Includes best cut, shaki (Cow tripe)
- Assorted Fish: Dry Fish and Stock Fish
- Pepper, salt and ground crayfish (to taste)
- 3 stock cubes
- 1 teaspoon Ogiri Igbo (traditional seasoning)
Before cooking your bitter leaf soup
- Make sure that the bitter leaves are well washed, such that there is no trace of bitterness left. If not, wash and squeeze it more. If the bitterness cannot be completely washed off (which is usually the case with most washed bitter leaves sold in the market), boil it for about 15 minutes and wash in cold water.
- Wash and cook the cocoyam till soft. Remove the peels and use a mortar and pestle to pound the corms to a smooth paste (as shown).
- Cooking directions
- Boil the shaki (cow tripe), stock fish and dry fish in 1 litre of water till they are well done. First sign of a done shaki is that the cuts will start curling on itself.
- Wash the beef and add to the pot of shaki etc. and continue cooking. When the meat is done, add 3 cubes of Maggi/Knorr and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add pepper, ground crayfish, bitter leaves (if they have not been parboiled) and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the cocoyam paste (in small lumps) and the palm oil then go to step 5.
- Note: If the bitter leaves were parboiled to remove the bitterness, then for step 3; add pepper, ground crayfish, the cocoyam paste (in small lumps), the bitter leaves and the palm oil. In other words, add all the ingredients at this stage.
- Cover the pot and leave to cook on high heat till all the cocoyam lumps have dissolved. You can add more water if you feel that the soup is too thick.
- Add salt to taste and the soup is ready
Ogbono Soup also known as Draw Soup makes eating Fufu Recipes so easy because of its slimy nature which helps the lumps of fufu slide down. If your kids do not like Okra Soup because of the chunks of Okra, then try Ogbono Soup, they will surely love it.
How to cook Ogbona soup
Some people like their Ogbono soup plain, with no added vegetables, others would not touch it unless there is some kind of vegetable in it. A third group love their ogbona with okra. Some people even go fancy and add Egusi to it.
Be sure to check out the following link where you’ll find more tips for preparing Ogbono Soup.
Ingredient to make Ogbona soup
- Assorted Meat and Fish: Beef, shaki, Stockfish, fish
- 2 handfuls Ogbona seeds
- 3 cooking spoons red palm oil
- Vegetable: Frozen Spinach (you can also use Pumpkin leaves or even Bitterleaf)
- 2 tablespoons ground crayfish
- Pepper and Salt (To taste)
- 1 onion
- 2 stock/seasoning/boullion cubes
Cooking Directions for Ogbono Soup
- Pour the palm oil into a clean dry stainless steel or aluminium pot. Set on the stove and melt the oil at low heat. Remember, only melt the oil, do not allow it to heat up.
- Once melted, turn off the heat and add the ground Ogbono.
- Use your cooking spoon to dissolve the Ogbono in the oil.
- When all the Ogbono powder has completely mixed with the oil, add the meat/fish stock (water from cooking the assorted meat and fish). Set the heat of your cooker to low and start stirring. You will notice the Ogbono start to thicken and draw.
- Keep stirring till the Ogbono has completely absorbed the meat stock.
- Add a small quantity of the hot water and stir till the Ogbono has absorbed all the water. Repeat this process till you get a consistency that is shown in the video below.
- Making sure that your heat is set to low, cover the pot and start cooking. Once it starts to simmer, stir every 2-3 minutes for 20 minutes.
So what you’ll do is: every 3 minutes or so, open the pot, stir every well, scraping the Ogbono that sticks to the base of the pot, cover the pot and cook for another 3 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, the Ogbono should be well cooked and you will begin to perceive its nice flavour and aroma.
- Add the assorted meat and fish, ground crayfish, salt and pepper to taste. The Ogbono may have become thicker from the cooking. If so, add a little bit more water and stir very well. Cover and cook till the contents of the pot is well heated up.
- If you prefer your Ogbono Soup without vegetables, turn off the heat and serve but if you like to add a vegetable then keep reading 🙂
- When the contents of the pot have heated up, add the vegetable (frozen Spinach used in the video). Stir very well, cover the pot and turn off the heat. Leave to stand for about 5 minutes and serve with any fufu, semo or eba.