What makes oha/ora soup special? You might be asking, aside the fact that it’s extremely tasty, it also has wonderful nutritional values that you might not have known. Oha soup is blessed with lots of nutrients when prepared well enough. Ora leaves are used when preparing this delicacy and they are highly seasonal plants which makes them a little rare to find especially, in other parts of Nigeria. Unlike the bitter leaf, ora leaves when plucked decay as fast as possible so it’s advised to use it when freshly plucked.
Oha soup is a classic dish that is mostly enjoyed by the Igbos who are found in the Eastern part of Nigeria. Generally, the Igbos are known for their variety in dishes, aroma and enthralling taste that lives the eater really satisfied, happy and even coming back for a plateful more.
More so, Ora leaves is called African Rosewood plant in English and botanically known as Pterocarpus mildraedii. It grows into a tree that produces these edible leaves. Still need more reasons to justify what makes oha/ora soup special? In this article, you will learn its recipe, preparation, health and nutritional benefits, and side effects too.
Oha soup Recipe
° Smoked Fish
° Stock fish
° Dry fish (Mangala)
° Ground crayfish
° Palm Oil
° Fresh pepper (preferably, the yellow bell pepper)
° Ground pepper (popularly known as Ghana pepper)
° Cocoyam or Achi
° Oha leaves
° Uziza leaves
° Salt and seasoning
° Ogiri Okpei (optional)
1. The first step (if using cocoyam as thickener) is to peel and boil the cocoyam for five to ten minutes, check the texture at intervals and ensure it is soft before you pound with a mortar, blender or food processor.
After pounding the cocoyam, add little oil to make the cocoyam paste smoother, scrape into a bowl and keep aside.
2. Wash the meat/chicken/ponmo, stock fish, dry fish(mangala) and smoked fish thoroughly, add them into a pot and pour considerable water. Add some seasoning, onions and pepper then allow to simmer for five minutes.
3. Add the cocoyam paste or Achi as the case might be, into the boiling stock and make sure there are no lumps, allow to steam for ten minutes and stir to reduce burning. If the soup is becoming too thick due to the dissolved cocoyam or Achi, add some water.
4. Shred the ora leaves or cut with a knife although, it is best to shred with hands. Wash and cut the Uziza leaves and keep aside.
5. Scoop some of the Ogiri okpei and dissolve in little quantity of water then pour into the soup. (Ogiri Okpei is an aromatic ingredient that adds not only taste but flavor to any soup).
6. Check for salt, add your ground crayfish and ground bell pepper to the soup as well. Put little seasoning if the soup is lacking some taste quality and stir again.
7. Add the Uziza leaves, allow for two minutes, continue stirring carefully then also add your ora leaves.
8. Wait for two more minutes, stir again and your oha soup is ready!
Note; Yellow Bell pepper is believed to have a certain aroma and flavor hence, why it is best for this soup. The soup approximately takes an hour or less to make, it’s easy and there’s a sure chance of achieving great result if the steps above are duly acknowledged and followed.
Oha soup can be enjoyed with fufu, pounded yam, eba or wheat.
Not still convinced on what makes oha/ora soup special? Let’s delve right into its nutritional benefits.
Nutritional facts of Oha leaves
Oha leaves are greatly known for their essential nutrients and vitamins. It contains energy, water, fat, protein, carbohydrate, crude fiber, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.
The leaves are rich in Vitamin C, B-vitamins and are great sources of antioxidants. It also contains copper and manganese which are reliable for proper functioning of the blood cells.
According to Akpanyung, E.O, below are the estimated values of the nutrient in oha leaves
- Energy – 237 Kj (57 kcal)
- Water – 85g
- Protein – 3.8g
- Fat – 0.8g
- Carbohydrate – 8.2g
- Fiber – 1.13g
- Calcium – 72mg
- Magnesium – 28mg
- Iron – 4.7mg
- Zinc – 3.1mg
- Copper – 2mg
- Manganese – 1.0mg
At this point, you have every reason to be amazed that this common but rare soup key ingredient possesses all these nutrients. There’s more though, let’s head into its health benefits.
Health benefits of Ora leaves
1. Contains Energy especially for athletes.
Ora leaves boosts lysine which is an enzyme essential for energy production and dissipation. This energy is very essential for athletes and people who engage in other forms of sports or exercise.
2. Protects the Nervous system
Due to the presence of Vitamin B and its vitamins, the nervous system is protected from any form of damage.
3. Facilitates Collagen Formation
Collagen is one of the requirements for a healthy skin and ora leaves has copper minerals that speeds up the formation of collagen and ensures a glowing and healthy skin.
4. Regulates Body pH levels
The greatness of its leaves maintains the body alkalinity hence, reducing acidity and regulating the general body pH levels.
5. Reduces the symptoms of Diseases
Regular intake of this soup fortifies the immune system and other vital organs of the body that protect it from diseases like malaria, typhoid etc. The leaves are antioxidants and they slow down the effect of harmful chemicals in the body when taken.
6. Improves vision
Ora leaves has traces of Vitamin A which are needful for the health of the eyes and this vegetable, does not disappoint in that area as well.
7. Aids indigestion and constipation
Due to its crude fiber, ora leaves can serve as roughages that help filter the body system and get rid of unwanted bacteria in the body. This also aids indigestion and alleviates constipation.
8. Alleviates Inflammation
The leaves of this remarkable plant have effects on an inflammatory disease like osteoarthritis. It possesses polyphenol which reduces inflammation and gives instant relief.
9. Regulates Blood pressure
The leaves are low in sodium which means it is essential for people suffering blood pressure issues. It also has potassium which enhances muscle contraction mechanism that regulates blood pressure.
10. Builds Body mass/weight
The presence of Cysteine amino acids does the trick here, It first builds protein which in turn builds body mass and Ora leaves contains this non-essential amino acid.
11. Accelerates Brain function
One of the non-essential amino acids known as Glutamic acid is responsible for maintaining the normal function of the brain as a neurotransmitter. Guess what? Ora leaves also contains this acid.
12. Eases Muscle and Period cramps
Women who experience period cramps can be relieved if they take ora soup because it aids easy contraction of pelvic and other muscles in the body. The leaves are what we call a muscle relaxant.
13. Improves heart contraction
Potassium is in charge of maintaining and improving contraction of the heart, ora leaves are known to be good sources of this mineral.
14. Helps joint problems and athritis
Manganese like calcium, is good for bones, joint, cartilages and the muscle. It serves as a lubricating fluid to joints hence, reducing arthritis.
15. Can treat Anemia
Anemia is the shortage or low supply of blood which can be caused by low intake of vegetables etc. Ora leaves contains Iron which is good for blood formation, as the icing to the cake, the vitamin C it also contains, help Iron absorption.
Side Effects of Ora leaves
The leaves as wonderful as they are also has a side effect:- Ora leaves aside all its good nutrients, contain hydrogen cyanide and oxalate which interferes with our normal use of oxygen and which can eventually causes death. Not to worry though, the leaves only possess trace amounts of them and cannot do any harm. However, it’s imperative to always cook the leaves before consumption as the chemical compounds are almost ineffective in the presence of heat.
Oha or Ora leaves are of great importance to the body when eaten. In fact, its advantages surpasses its side effects which makes it highly recommended for both young and old. You should also know that ora soup preparation are almost similar to that of bitterleaf soup, the only difference is their respective leaves.
Although it is mainly prepared by the Igbos, other tribes in Nigeria are also big fans of this wonder delicacy and the leaves can be found in any part of the country. It is so amazing that it can be championed as the best soup in the Eastern part of Nigeria. Abia, Imo and Anambra mostly use cocoyam as their thickeners while Enugu, Ebonyi and some parts of Delta and Rivers states, prefer using Achi.
I hope this article convinced you (if there was an initial doubt) about what makes oha/ora soup special?