MY LOVE FOR UJUJU
By Anthony Awunor
The flower you are looking at is known as ujuju in Ubulu Uku. Most communities across the globe have different names for the edible flower. Although, most Anioma towns eat the flower-like vegetable but it is most celebrated in Ubulu as “ofe ujuju” meaning ujuju soup.
It is the cheapest soup one can think of because the vegetable does not demand many ingredients. This is because the vegetable itself is soup already. Adding too many ingredients is therefore, a mere waste of time and resources.
Maggi cube is useless for a standard ujuju soup at Ubulu Uku. This, again is due to the fact that ogili takes over maggi’s function. While fish and meat may not be necessary, crayfish remains a sine qua none. So with crayfish, ogili, palm oil, salt and yabasi, the ujuju soup is ready for eating This special soup can be eaten with eba, fufu or pounded yam.
It is not a taboo to add other ingredients such as pomo, meat, fish, snail, maggi, stockfish, mushroom, curry and other condiments. But the truth remains that the more you add ingredients, the more the ujuju loses its taste and originality. This is why the ujuju soup cooked in the farm are always more interesting than the ones cooked at home.
The farm versions are usually cooked anyhow, most times in a hurry with little or no ingredients. That, exactly makes ujuju soup tastes fine and even more interesting.
In farms, Ubulu Uku men do take it to the next level by adding ewi meat. Ewi is bush rabbit. Sometimes they add mushroom or snails. They even go as far as adding obulumgbede to increase the aroma of the ujuju. God forbids that one perceives such aroma and never had the opportunity to eat from it.
For those who don’t know, ujuju soup can be cooked within 60 minutes. Gather the leaves and pack them into a pot with boiling water. There is no need to cut the leaves with knife; just pack them into the pot and wait for 15 minutes. After that period of time, pack them out of the pot into a mortar and smash them into pieces. While some love it well grounded many Ubulu people prefer it not completely grounded so that they can swallow the coarse leaves through the esophagus down to their stomach.
After smashing to taste, the grounded ujuju leaves are packed into the already boiling soup sauce mixed with palm oil, pepper yabasi and crayfish. It is then left to simmer for about 10 minutes before adding salt. Once salt is added, the soup is brought down and ready for consumption.
Nevertheless, some Ubulu Uku ladies are creative with this leaf. The do it with ogbono which gives a special taste. Personally, I don’t like such combination; if I want to eat ujuju, I eat it plainly in its natural form. without adulteration. But you don’t blame these Ubulu ladies because they so, mainly when the ujuju is not big enough to stand alone in the pot.
In Ubulu-Uku ujuju soup treats people differently. While some sleep after eating the soup, many others grow the appetite to eat more.
For me, whenever, I eat ujuju, I am tempted not to wash my hands so that I can continue to perceive that sweet smelling aroma of boiled ujuju leaf garnished with ogili Ubulu.
Frankly speaking, I love ujuju soup especially when the ingredients are highly minimized to just yabasi, crayfish and ogili.
AWUNOR, from Ubulu-Uku is the Publisher of Ubulu Ezemu. +2348057259030