Monday, 21 November 2016

Preparing Ofe Akwu (Banga soup) in the UK

Wow. I can't believe I just devoured a plate of my most loved Nigerian meal: Rice and Ofe akwu (Banga soup as some call it) here in Nottingham and that prepared by yours truly. The wonderful thing about it is that I didn't have to break my back to get any of the materials I used. Actually, I've been preparing Nigerian meals (Semolina with Egusi or Ogbono soup, plantain porridge, beans and yam, e.t.c) since I came to the UK with ingredients I brought from Nigeria (crayfish, Egusi, Ogbono & Cameroon pepper) using spinach as my ugu, but I never envisaged that it was possible to prepare Ofe akwu here. Where was I to get palm kernel nuts? Even in Nigeria Ofe akwu cooking process is really tedious.

Now you can imagine how surprised and elated I was three weeks ago to see already processed akwu (palm kernel) sold at a shop where I had stopped to buy meat. So I decided to try it out today and I am very excited at what I made out of it. I'm so happy I didn't have to go through the ordeal of boiling akwu, pounding it, and extracting the oil. That onerous process had already been surmounted by one tin of palm concentrate from Ghana. How brilliant! Some people really know how to create value.

Here are  the ingredients I used:

1. Palm nut cream concentrate

2. Dried smoked catfish

3. Spinach (washed and chopped) 
Usually I love to have a lot of veggies in my meals, but since I couldn't go shopping this weekend, I had to make use of my left over. If I were in Nigeria, scent leaf (Arigbe or Nchanwu) would have been the best. I haven't looked for it here. But it still turned out really nice with spinach.

4. Beef (I didn't have so much as I haven't shopped for groceries in 2 weeks). I used my 4 pieces left over though. I always prefer beef for Ofe akwu to chicken.

5. Red onions

6. Ground Cameroon pepper (I brought this from Nigeria. I love pepper and it's the hottest. But any pepper can be used)

7. Ground crayfish (I brought this also from Nigeria but they sell them in African stores)

8. Knorr seasoning (2 cubes)

9. Beef seasoning

10. Salt to taste

So quickly on my recipe:
I boiled the meat with beef seasoning and some onions and salt to taste. Then I emptied the palm concentrate into an empty pot, added a little water, stirred and brought to boil. Here is how it looked after that (just as if I manually extracted the oil from the palm kernels).

Then I added my meat with its stock, dried fish, crayfish, pepper, Knorr cubes and salt. Allowed to boil a little while, before adding onions. Last of all, I sprinkled the chopped spinach on it, turned and voila!

Food was ready to be served with already boiled white rice.

Are there differences in how you cook yours, I would like to know. Please leave a comment below.

©Radiant~November 2016

Monday, 31 October 2016

Meet My Classmates

I have wonderful people in my class. Today, I'd love to introduce some of them to you.

This is Manuel. He is a very jovial and lively person and always has something to contribute in class. He is currently running for Medical and health sciences rep for the post graduate sounding board.

Hi, I’m Jose Manuel Besares Lopez, and I'm an international student from Mexico. I'm studying MPH Public Health (International Health). Back in Mexico, I got a Bachelor Sc. degree in Genome Biotechnology and I really enjoyed getting engaged in looking for answers to social issues through the application of biological sciences. I consider myself  a young and enthusiastic person, committed to the wellbeing of my community and I love to use the power of my voice to create changes in my environment through a constructive, inspiring, and transformational leadership. This year I received the Chevening Award, the UK Government Scholarship that provides me the opportunity of meeting Radiant and my other fabulous colleagues at the MPH!

This is Savina. Always smiling. She hardly raises her hand in class to make a contribution, but when we are in groups, she has very relevant knowledge or experience to share. I always thought she was a shy person, but I got to know another side of her last Thursday when she made a 30min presentation about Cambodian health care system in front of the whole class.

My name is Chham Savina. I come from Cambodia, a country in south-east Asia. Currently, I am doing a Master of Public Health at the University of Nottingham.
Having a bachelor of pharmacy and working experience based in the health field, I discovered that I have a great passion in public health. That's why I decided to pursue my postgraduate course in public health. This course is very rich in providing theoretical skills and knowledge required for public health practice which I am sure that after I graduate I will be highly valued by a wide range of employers. Also, I chose to do an MPH because I would like to advance my core skills in public health which surely helps to open up a world of possibility for Cambodia health care system. I am kind of self-spoiling, so I always give myself a good treat after long tired day. whether it is a good movie or stuff, it brings fun to me.

Finally, for today. Meet Shamiya. You guys have met her in my previous post. She is someone I can laugh with anytime. She loves to have fun. So she travels to London almost every weekend. 

I am Shamiya Nazir, Bangladeshi by origin, 26years old. I passed from school of medicine this year and have decided to pursue a career in public health because I am more interested in knowing why some one is diseased and the other one is healthy rather than working as a physician who deals with individuals. Hopefully, I want to be a successful epidemiologist later in life. For fun, I love to watch movies and try new restaurants. 

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Manuel, Savina and Shamiya. I'll stop here for now. That's Cheryl from USA in the background. Hopefully, you'll meet her in the next Meet My Classmates. 

©Radiant ~October 2016

Sunday, 9 October 2016

International Student: First Lecture Week


I had my first week of lectures last week from Monday to Friday. (Henceforth, it will be only 3 days per week). A variety of teaching methods were employed including lecture slides, short videos, group exercises, class interactions and an excursion. I had thought that I would find it difficult to grasp the British accent on the first week, but for one or two lecturers, their speeches were lucid enough. On introducing ourselves the first day, it was interesting to discover that we came from diverse countries and backgrounds viz Ghana, UK, Mexico, USA, India, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, e.t.c. I was the only one from Nigeria until Friday. We are 2 now.

Me and some of my classmates

I want fresh air

The prevalence of smoking in Nottingham is alarming. More so, it is ironical that smokers happen to be concentrated in front of a hospital: The Queens Medical Center. On a second thought, maybe it is so due to the fact that smokers are more likely to come down with illnesses for which they have to visit the hospital. The annoying part is that I get to sniff my own portion of tobacco every morning at the bus station. Yuck!

Visit to Thackray Medical Museum

On Thursday, we had an excursion to the Thackray medical museum in Leeds. During our 2 hour drive from Nottingham, I sat beside Shamiya from Bangladesh and we talked throughout the journey. I noticed a transient change in my accent at the end of our conversation. Lol

We were made to see and experience the history of medicine in the UK, the ancient practices and how scientific discoveries led to what we practice now. We passed through the Victoria street, London where houses where built back to back, environmental sanitation was zero and I don't know how, but the museum was able to replicate the stench. We were asked to pick characters and find out where our characters lived and what happened to them. My character was a Mary Holmes, shown in the picture below. She had contracted tuberculosis and was bedfast. The only person with courage to care for her was the priest, who our tour guide thought must have been a Roman Catholic priest. Mary died of tuberculosis at the age of 29.

    More pictures of the Victoria street

A butcher doing his job

A typical bedroom in 1842

                       Shared latrine


The above shows a 10yr old girl who worked in a mill on Victoria street. Her job was to crawl under the revolving machines and sweep out what fell from them. While doing this oneday, she was trapped beneath it and the machine shattered her leg and so she had to have her leg amputated. She survived the surgery without anaesthesia (pain control) but died in a few days due to infection. As you can see, surgeons wore their regular work suits in the theatre and no gloves. This was before the germ theory (that diseases are caused by microorganisms) by Loius Pasture. Different types of anaesthetics have been discovered over the years. Surgeries are now performed under anaesthesia and in aseptic (free of disease-causing microbes) conditions.

It was insightful to know that UK has gone through the same problems many developing and underdeveloped countries are passing through currently, even when there were no solutions in other parts of the world and yet they overcame. It makes me believe even more strongly that there is hope for Africa.

©Radiant ~ October 2016

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