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Okpa Flour (Bambara Nut Flour)

Bambara Nut Flour (Okpa/Nyimo) 

Made from the Bambara Bean legume (Vigna subterranea) it is very rich in protein and the flour is used to make a nutritious steamed pudding meal locally known in Igbo Speaking areas in South-East Nigeria as ‘Okpa’ (a steamed pudding meal cooked like moi-moi), and eaten with with Pap (Akamu/Ogi/Koko/Tom Brown) or red stew. 

Okpa is a full meal on its own with a lot of amazing health benefits. 

Bambara beans/nuts is not a nut, rather it is a very high-protein legume. 

It might be surprising that most people in Africa may not be familiar with the English name 'Bambara Bean/Nut' even though it forms part of many family's daily meals. This is because it is popularly known by it's indigenous names. In Nigeria it is called Okpa (Igbo), Epa- Roro (Yoruba), Kwaruru or Gurjiya (Hausa). Other African countries call it Njugu Mawe (Swahili), Tsimbade (Luyha), Nyimo (Zimbabwe), Izindlubu (IsiZulu, South Africa), Ntoyo cibemba (Zambia) and Jugo Beans (South Africa).

Nutritional Profile of Bambara Nut

Bambara Bean/Nut contains carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre, vitamins, minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, sodium, fluoride, selenium; and amino acids tryptophan, lysine, valine.

It is regarded nutritionally as one of nature’s complete foods.

It is also gluten-free and low carbohydrate food.

How to cook Okpa (Steamed Bambara Bean/Nut Pudding) 

  1. Mix the flour with a little palm oil, rubbing it in until evenly smooth and coloured.
  2. Then add warm-hot water, stir through till it gets dissolved. Sieve the mixture so there are no lumps.
  3. Add salt, ground pepper/chilli powder and spices such as ground uziza .
  4. Pour small quantities of the mixture into foil or plastic parcels/wraps, placing a piece of fish or boiled egg or vegetables inside the parcel/wrap and seal tightly.
  5. Place sealed parcels/wraps in a pot containing hot water, cover and steam/cook until the okpa has become firm.
  6. Enjoy as a full meal accompanied with Akamu/Ogi/Pap/Koko/Tom Brown, or with some red spicy stew.

Health benefits of eating Okpa 

Eaten regularly to boost blood iron and in the ethno-medical treatment of anaemia (especially in women).

Contains all the essential nutrients and amino acids found in foods, and used in the ethno-medical management and prevention of malnutrition and poor diet related health conditions.

Contains natural compounds that help in mood regulation, sleep improvement and memory.

Is very filling food, improves digestion and makes you feel full for longer, thereby aiding in weight loss/management.

Contains cancer-preventing antioxidants

Improves bone strength

Improves the body’s immune system

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