Banga “Palm fruit” Risotto: a Southern Nigerian fusion
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Banga “Palm fruit” Risotto: a Southern Nigerian fusion

Rice dishes are a staple across the world. From Italian Risotto, Spanish Paella, Chinese
Fried, Nigerian Jollof Rice; it is rare to meet a group of people that don’t have their own native rice dish. As a Nigerian who loves Jollof amongst other rice dishes, I am here to introduce you to Banga rice. A dish that I am tempted to call the southern Nigerian cousin to Jollof rice. However, that will be like comparing apples to oranges. Banga a.k.a palm fruit is a staple in southern Nigeria also known as the Niger Delta region. Produce of Banga includes palm oil, palm kernel nut (and its oil) and medicinal charcoal (from the dried palm shell). Additionally, dishes made from pure unrefined extract (palm fruit extract) includes Banga soup, Banga rice and “Kwahkah” (a sweet/savoury pudding made with plantains and corn, similar to cornbread). Banga “Palm fruit” Risotto is my addition to this list of delicious dishes.

Aside from Banga, the Niger Delta region is also known for its rich source of seafood. The region hosts some of the largest seafood markets in Nigeria, with several rivers and lakes running through states that make up the region. This region also seats on the Atlantic ocean. For this recipe, I decided to use locally sourced fresh seafood in Italy. Such as mussels, calamari and shrimps. In summary, this Banga “Palm fruit” Risotto is a fusion of a traditional Nigerian flavour with the classic Italian seafood risotto.

How to clean and cook mussels:

  • Start by washing the mussels in salted water, scrub every dirt and filament on the outer layer. Discard any already opened mussels. Place a large pot over high heat, add some olive oil and a clove of garlic.
  • Once the oil is hot pour in the cleaned mussels followed by half of the dry white wine. Cover the pot with a lid and cook until all the mussels are open.
  • Once cooked drain the mussels and reserve the liquid for later. Let the mussels rest for a bit until cool enough to handle but not cold. Pull each mussel apart and extract the mussel meat with your fingers (You can leave one or two mussels with shells to use as garnish when serving). Set aside in a bowl for later and discard the shells.
  • Place a saucepan over very low heat. Pour in the liquid from the mussels and also the shrimp broth. Allow to slowly simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
Banga “Palm fruit” Risotto: a Southern Nigerian fusion

Seafood Banga “Palm fruit” Risotto

Immaculate Ruému
Fusing Banga, a southern Nigerian staple with an Italian classic resulting in a flavourful and rich dish that is Banga "Palm fruit" Risotto
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Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Fusion, Italian, Nigerian
Servings 5
Calories 506 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 952 g fresh mussels
  • 158 g fresh calamari rings (not squid) (already cleaned and cut into rings)
  • 164 g fresh shrimps
  • 2 cups carnaroli rice
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1/2 scotch bonnet
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (divide into halves for cooking mussels and risotto)
  • 2 cup shrimp broth

Banga Sauce:

  • 200 g Palm fruit extract (banga)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • A sprig of sage
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions
 

Clean and Prepare the mussels:

  • Start by washing the mussels in salted water, scrub every dirt and filament on the outer layer. Discard any already opened mussels. Place a large pot over high heat, add some olive oil and a clove of garlic.
  • Once the oil is hot pour in the cleaned mussels followed by half of the dry white wine. Cover the pot with a lid and cook until all the mussels are open.
  • Once cooked drain the mussels and reserve the liquid for later. Let the mussels rest for a bit until cool enough to handle but not cold. Pull each mussel apart and extract the mussel meat with your fingers (You can leave one or two mussels with shells to use as garnish when serving). Set aside in a bowl for later and discard the shells.
  • Place a saucepan over very low heat. Pour in the liquid from the mussels and also the shrimp broth. Allow to slowly simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Cleaning the Shrimps:

  • Grab each shrimp by hand and using scissors cut a slit along the back of the shell, just a bit into the flesh also. This will expose the vein without cutting too deep into the flesh. Pull the shells off the flesh and use a skewer or a toothpick to pull out the dark vein. Discard both the shells and vein. set the shrimp in a bowl for later.

Cooking the Banga sauce:

  • Place a pan over medium-high heat, pour in the palm fruit extract and toss in a sprig of sage. Add the cleaned shrimp and Calamari rings with the chilli powder, salt and water. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Making the risotto:

  • Place a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped shallots and scotch bonnet peppers. Allow to sweat for a minute, then add the Carnaroli rice.
  • Continually stir and toast the rice for about two minutes, then pour in the remaining dry white wine. allow the wine to evaporate, then using a ladle pour in a few scoop of the warm stock (that was previously left to simmer on low heat). The rice will absorb most of the liquid and some will evaporate. Stir continually as you add more stock whenever it starts getting dry, do this for about 15minutes until all the stock is used up.
  • Pour in the mussels after adding the last scoop of stock. Stir together and just as the stock starts to dry up, add the Banga sauce with the shrimp and calamari rings. Stir everything together, then remove from heat and serve hot. Garnish with the whole opened mussels that were previously set aside.

Nutrition

Serving: 5g | Calories: 506kcal | Carbohydrates: 78g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 183mg | Sodium: 863mg | Potassium: 600mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 239IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 123mg | Iron: 9mg
Keyword: Banga, Palm fruit, Risotto, Seafood
Tried this recipe?Mention @Immaculateruemu or tag #iruemurecipes!

If you want to learn more about Nigerian food, check out my list of 10 Essential Ingredients in a Nigerian Kitchen.

AboutImmaculate Ruému

Chef, blogger and all-round food enthusiast. Simultaneously a professional chef and a home cook. Living a vision of breaking global culinary boundaries.

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