Ukwa is a popular Nigerian dish that is made from breadfruit and usually enjoyed as a smooth and comforting porridge. There are many ways to prepare ukwa, but if you are looking for the classic recipe, here is a detailed guide on how to make ukwa at home.
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1. What is African breadfruit
Those who have never tried or even seen African breadfruit are always surprised after the first tasting. It is hard to not only describe the taste and texture of breadfruit, but even to categorize it like we do with other fruits and vegetables. The closest connection you can find is beans, although African breadfruit has a more complex flavour and texture.
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Breadfruit can be eaten in a number of ways. The biggest fans of African breadfruit say that is tastes fantastic even on its own, but to experience the complete flavour profile of breadfruit, it’s better to prepare it as ukwa, or African breadfruit porridge.
2. What you’ll need
The ingredients for ukwa are very simple and there is a good chance you already have all of them in your fridge or pantry. Here is what you will need to prepare a delicious, steaming pot of ukwa:
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- African breadfruit – 700g
- Medium dry fish – 2
- Edible potash – 7g
- Fresh bitter leaves – 5
- Stock cubes – 2
- Palm oil – enough to add colour
- Salt and pepper – to taste
3. How to make ukwa
Normally, ukwa takes a while to be prepared, but you can speed up this process in two ways. If you are using dried African breadfruit, soak it overnight in plenty of liquid to make it tender by the next day. If you have fresh breadfruit, you can use a pressure cooker to prepare ukwa to tenderness faster.
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You will also need to soak the dry fish to make it tender, but it can be done a few hours before the preparation, not overnight. Follow these steps to finish cooking your batch of ukwa:
- Thoroughly wash and rinse the African breadfruit. Watch out for the stones and sand that can fall to the bottom of the washing bowl.
- Put the breadfruit into a medium-sized pot and pour water over it. The water should cover the breadfruit about 1 inch from the surface of the seeds.
- Add the dry fish to the pot, stir, cover, and cook until the breadfruit is soft and melts when pressed. If you are cooking your ukwa in a regular pot, you may need to top up the water to prevent the dish from getting too dense.
- When the breadfruit is cooked, add the palm oil for colour, salt, pepper, and stock cubes.
- Stir and cook until the palm oil changes the colour from red to yellow and gives your ukwa and appetizing tint. This step should take you about 5 minutes.
- Stir again and add the chopped fresh bitter leaves.
- Cook on low heat for a couple of minutes until the bitter leaves are soft but still green. Serve your ukwa immediately with a cold beverage or any other addition you and your family prefer.
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