Nigerian Cuisine: Okpa; How to make Okpa

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Nigerian Cuisine: Okpa; How to make Okpa

Bambara nut commonly known as Okpa is from the leguminous plant which is scientifically named voandzea subterranean and botanically referred to as Vigna subterranean, also known as Jugo beans. It comes in small pods which you crack open to take out the seeds, the seeds are hard, so the seeds are usually cracked open by the industrial grinders who can grind it into powder. It is not a work done with Kitchen blenders, the powder is normally boiled and salted, eaten as a snack, lunch, dinner.

Okpa is common among the Igbos of eastern Nigeria especially Enugu State. It is a good source of protein, it is loaded with nutrients including calcium, iron, beta carotene and Niacin, that is why it is regarded as a complete food and its chemical composition is comparable to that of soybean and Cowpea.


Okpa has numerous nutrients in it, some of the nutrient found in it are :

1. Carbohydrate

2. Protein

3. Fat

4. Fibre

5. Mineral

6. It has an antioxidant potential.


To prepare okpa few ingredients are needed, they are :

1. Okpa flour

2. Palm oil

3. Uziza seed(black pepper corns)

4. Fresh pepper

5. Salt to taste

6. Lukewarm water

7. Plantain or banana leaves

8. Twine for tying


1. Before you start cooking, wash the plantain or banana leaves with salt water. You have to wilt the leaves by passing them over a flame and leave to dry. You can only wrap okpa with dry leaves but not too dry. You can also use plastic bags that can withstand high heat, foil bags and plates but plantain or banana leaves are the best because they have good and lots of nutritional benefits.

2. Pound the uziza seed(black pepper corns). Uziza seeds are very hot, so you have to be careful with it and the pepper.

3. Pound the pepper

4. Get your warm water ready


1. Put the okpa flour into a bowl

2. Add salt to taste and mix

3. Add the blended uziza seeds and pepper and mix

4. Add the Palm oil and mix very well until you have the nice colour you want.

5. Add the lukewarm water little, mix to remove the lumps. Add the water until you get texture you think is good.

6. Make sure the pot of water on the gas cooker is boiling before you start tying or wrapping the okpa. Because when you tie or wrap the okpa and leave in a bowl without putting it immediately inside the boiling water, the water in okpa goes one side and the ingredients other side.

7. Wrap or tie the okpa and put into the boiling water to cook. You tie the plantain or banana leaves on both sides with a strong string from Nigeria bag of rice. You have to tie it very tight to avoid leakage.

8. Cook for 45 mins to 1 hour and check. When it is done you can serve it with custard, oat or garri. But if you are having it as a snack, you can eat it with cold soft drink.


Article submitted by Ahamefula Queen.