Sunday Lunch: Asala-Scent Leaf Soup
Yes, a soup made from the African walnut, known as Asala in Yoruba. Because the beautiful crunch and divine nuttiness must be experienced in one lifetime.
The first time I used Asala in a recipe, it was a dip I made – a variation of my scent leaf one. It was beautiful. The characteristic bitterness one experiences after eating it and drinking water (back-to-back) disappears. Instead one is left with a creamy nuttiness that begs exploration.
When I considered the vegetables to use, I stayed away from bitterleaf – I didn’t want a double dose, one and two, I was curious about what would happen to the bitterness of the walnuts during cooking. I went with scent leaf, shredded in a Ghanian asanka, not chopped, led by the spirit.
Don’t you just loveeeeeeeeeeee my aga.living chopping board? Go, on, get one…
I paired it with water leaf – soft, spinach like greens that are neutral flavoured yet add a silkiness to soups and stews.
I shelled the walnuts and played with food gradients, seeing how the colour changed from creamy fresh to browny ‘rotten’.
My protein was ready – stock fish, boiled soft; chunks of snails, kpomo aka cow hide, a Nigerian delicacy and beef.
There was the seasoned stock – the result of the boiled beef, flavoured with onions, chili peppers and ground crayfish. And so it began in a pot of hot, palm oil smoking with readiness into which the ground nuts went.
I wanted the essence of the scent leaves infused into the base of the soup so it followed.
Surf, turf, stock followed and then a sweet short simmer…
Till it was more sauce than liquid…
And then I served it with Pounded yam. Of the worst sort – the yam old ended up with koko, seeds but that did nothing to hold me back. because this soup was deliciousness beyond words – fragrant, nutty with a flavour reminiscent of Ugba, African salad. I also tried it with Eba, of cassava meal but p yam trumps.
I LOVEEEEEEEEE it and will make it through out this season.
The bitterness from the walnuts is absent, all that’s left is a creaminess that’s beautiful on the tongue. Sigh.
Try it. Let me know what you think xxx
- 4 tablespoons palm oil
- 1 cup walnuts (about 20), washed, shelled & pounded
- 2 tablespoons scent leaves, shredded/ ground
- 1 cup water leaf, chopped
- Hot yellow pepper, to taste
- A few pieces of cooked beef, 5 or 6
- 1/3 cup of chopped Kpomo
- 1/4 cup cooked snails
- Ground crayfish, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- Add oil to pan and heat up
- Add the crushed walnuts and stir. Let cook for a minute or two then season with the ground crayfish and the ground scent leaves
- Add the rest of the ingredients - the yellow chilies, meats and a couple of cups of meat stock
- Finish by adding the waterleaf and checking for seasoning
- Let simmer for 3 - 5 minutes then remove from heat
- Serve with pounded yam (I swear, it is the truth and nothing else would do)