An Amazing Plant: Zobo, Hibiscus or Sorrel!

As life speeds up, we have less time to ensure that we eat a healthy and adequate diet; with speed boats, fast cars, fast planes, and fast food driving us all to living in the fast life and making us less concerned about the healthiness of our lifestyle, so unless we eat a healthy balance diet, take regular exercise, life in the fast lane can only result to our health suffering for it. Super-foods gives superb results, which simply means to eat colors, the more colors is included in meals the more is the nutrients loads. Foods that are deep blue, purple, red, green, orange provide more nutrients, so color every meal to gain more nutrients from different food sources. A well-nourished body absorbs more nutrients, live a healthy lifestyle and gain the best nutrients from foods.

The hibiscus plant, sorrel popularly known in every part of Nigeria as “zoborodo” or “zobo” for short consists; of the sorrel green leaves, stem, flower buds which are used as an essential ingredients in so many recipes across Nigeria. The fresh and dried hibiscus plants are used in food preparation which has various beneficial uses and the fresh or dried red sorrel flower or “zobo” are used to produce a bright red-colored, nice tasting drink called the “zobo” drink in Nigeria. It is advisable to avoid fizzy drinks, and best to replace alcoholic and carbonated soft drinks with homemade natural fruits or plants drink.

A Popular Traditional Nigerian Drink: Healthy “Zoborodo” or “Zobo” Juice:

Recipe Ingredients:-

Red Hibiscus Flower Dried or fresh “Zobo” Sorrel.

Cloves known as “kanampari” in Hausa and Ginger is the “Citta in Hausa” dried or fresh, grated to spiced it up.

Sweetener of choice (pineapple juice is recommended); Sugar (optional) sugar-free for health drink.

Water, Pineapple peels and juice, or oranges, lemon or lime juice.

Cucumber, watermelon, or pineapple rings to garnish.

Recipe Steps:-

The red zobo or sorrel flower is best for this health drink; fresh or dried will do just perfectly. Rinse the zobo flower and place in a pot with enough water to cover, add cloves, ginger, pineapple peels and put to boil on low-medium heat. Blend the pineapples cubes and strain juice for later use. Boil zobo until dark purple-red color then put off the heat. Allow to cool. Using a fine mesh or strainer; strain juice into a wide bowl, be careful while straining or sieving juice and mixing to avoid stains, because the dark red/purple red color stains easily and it is difficult to remove.

Gradually add in the fresh pineapple juice and stir gently. It is sweet enough for taste but if desire sweeten with any sweetener of choice. Serve chilled with any choice fruits such as pineapple rings, watermelon or cucumber slices in tall glasses with iced cubes. Pour into refilled bottles and store in the refrigerator for later use. Zobo drink has a rich, beautiful color and refreshingly sweet pleasant thick taste; the drink is so strong with a unique spicy taste, that whatever additional ingredients is added, it still comes out top with it’s distinctly stronger taste.

The same recipe can be successfully used in making the “Zobo Red Wine” but without the spices; by following the steps in wine making. After extracting the boiled zobo juice, add enough honey or sugar for sweet wine, stir-in the yeast. Mix until well combine then cover; and stir everyday. Allow for seven to nine days or more according to the strength of wine desire. Once the fermentation takes place; voila, zobo wine is ready. Filter and store in bottles, then allow to age for about four weeks. Zobo red wine is richer and healthier, so drink in moderation once in awhile. Zobo Tea is just as easy to make; a few of the green or white zobo fresh or dried can be steep for 5 minutes in hot water for tea, sweeten with honey or enjoy as a tangy diet tea without any sweetener.

Hibiscus “sabdariffa” is commonly called the “Roselle Plant” and the “red sorrel flower” is used in making “zobo” a popular Nigerian drink. The plant is also used in many Nigerian recipes, herbal drinks, beverages, flavoring and coloring agent in the food industry and also used in cooking various traditional cuisines. Zobo drink is a Nigerian culture friendly drink, an all time favorite and popular at traditional festivals and parties. It is serve as refreshment drinks during gatherings, and sold every where in Nigeria; often seen in bottles packaged and branded according to the individuals preferences for sale in stores and shops at schools, hospitals, hotels and sport centers. Zobo drink is purely natural homemade drink, this sweet nutritious plant drink needs no artificial coloring or flavors and it is highly recommended as a powerful blood tonic. The best Zobo drink is from Northern Nigeria but it is fast gaining popularity in the Southern parts of Nigeria.

The Yoruba Meatless “Obe Isapa” Of Western Nigeria:-

The plant sorrel flower is cultivated in the green, red and dark-red pigment. The green type, when dried turns white is used by the Yoruba in cooking the meatless soup known as “obe isapa” a chewy deliciousness; sorrel is an excellent healthy substitute for meat. The soup is simply an egusi soup with chewy zobo flower which often is substituted for the meat and fish. The white sorrel flower is soaked in hot water with potash to remove the tangy sour taste, then rinse severally in hot water to remove the sourness until the desired tartness is reach. The Yoruba of western Nigeria are known for their absolutely meatless and nutritious “isapa” soup made with the green or white sorrel flower but “obe isapa” has now been upgraded with the addition of beef and assorted meat parts. The Igbo of southern Nigeria also included this amazing plant in their various dishes.

Recipe Ingredients:-

Dry “isapa” in yoruba, “zobo” in hausa green or white sorrel flower.

Locust beans “iru” in yoruba, “dawadawa” in hausa.

Egusi, crayfish, dry fish-“kifi” in hausa.

Tomatoes “timatiri” in hausa, onions-“albasa” in hausa.

Green pepper “tatasai” in hausa, scotch bonnet pepper-“atarugu”.

Palm oil, seasoning cubes and salt to taste.

Blend the tomatoes, sweet red pepper, scotch bonnet and onions, stir-fry in heated palm oil until soft and dry. Add washed smoked fish and enough water to the sauce. Season with salt, locust beans, and seasoning cubes. Cover and simmer on low heat for a while. Blend egusi with crayfish until smooth, mix with water and add to soup to thicken up a bit. Stirring occasionally to avoid sticking to pot. Check for seasoning and water, adjust according to taste. Lastly add the prewashed white zobo isapa, cover again and simmer on low heat. Cook “obe isapa” to the desired soup thickness. Serve with any swallow of choice; pounded yam, or amala. Yoruba favorite soup.

The Kanuri Cuisine, Miyan Yakuwa Green Zobo Leaves of the North-East, Nigeria:-

The Kanuri’s of Borno State Nigeria are known for the use of the green leaves of hibiscus to prepare the delicious nutrient dense “yakuwa soup” with the addition of the spinach “alefu” by Hausa or “efo” by Yoruba; to the “yakuwa” green sorrel. Giving the soup a taste so unique that the final taste is a spicy spinach; mixed with some sour fruitiness of the green leaves of sorrel “zobo”, these green leaves add an exciting flavor to any dish. 

Recipe Ingredients:-

Meat-“Nama”, bones-“kashi” and fish-“kifi”.

Onions, tomatoes, green pepper and scotch bonnet.

Yakuwa and spinach.

Groundnut oil.

Locust beans-“dawadawa”, mixed spices-“yaji”, potash, salt and seasoning cubes.

Recipe Steps:-

Wash meat and bones, put into a pot, add chopped onions, spices, locust beans known as “dawadawa” in hausa, seasoning cubes and salt. Cook until meat is tender.

Divide the pepper and tomatoes into two equal parts, blend one half of it and chop the second half. Combine both and put to boil in a separate pot.

Fry groundnut oil with onion slices in a clean dry pot, until onions turn crispy light. Add in the boiled mix pepper, meat, bones, and continuously stir-fry for some minutes. Add in the meat stock, cover and allow to simmer on low heat.

The sorrel leaves “yakuwa” has a great power loads of nutrients; with a sharp tartness. The sorrel green leaves has a spade-shaped leaves and reddish-green flowers that turn purple after full bloom, with brown color seeds. Zobo green leaves is known as “yakuwa” in the Northern parts of Nigeria; wash thoroughly and pick leaves from its stems, and do same for spinach then shred both into tiny pieces. If prefer boil “yakuwa” separately to soften, drain excess water and pound in a clean mortar and pestle. Add all cooked vegetables to soup, stir-in gently. Taste for seasoning and add as to taste. Cover and cook on low heat.

Roast, and peel groundnuts, blend into a smooth paste, add to soup. Add according to the desire thickness of soup. Taste soup to check the tartness of the yakuwa leaves, if too much add potash and more groundnut paste to bring down sharpness of taste. Cook until there is a thin film of oil on the soup surface. Serve with tuwon masara, tuwon shinkafa, brabisco or any swallow of choice.

The Roselle plant is popular for various skin-care regime, reputed for anti-aging properties in the beauty world; superb for radiant and glowing skin. Hibiscus plant sorrel can be use to prevent, cure certain diseases and illnesses; the health benefits of this wonder plants are numerous, it neutralize the effects of free radicals present in cells and tissues because of the loads of its antioxidants, provides relief from cramps and helps to restore hormonal balance. It is rich in organic and ascorbic acid, protein, iron and calcium, has loads of beta-carotene, vitamin “c” to boost and stimulate the activity of the immune system with its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. The hibiscus plants aids digestion, treats constipation, prevents colorectal cancer, excellent for riboflavin, helps lowers blood pressure and also has anti-diabetic effects by lowering the cholesterol, maintains renal health by ensuring detoxification of the kidneys, help with weight loss and protect against obesity. Consuming high amounts of sorrel can cause diarrhea, liver diseases and asthmatic patients are advice to avoid sorrel. Zobo drink is unsafe in early pregnancy.

Hibiscus sorrel is known as “zoborodo” the red or green flower and “yakuwa” the green leaves in Nigeria, and very popular all over the world. The plant has amazing medicinal properties, with a powerful health benefits which is far beyond the nutritious values found in using it as food, and it will go a long way in ensuring healthy eating if included in various recipes. Food is medicine, caution in taking herbal plant as food is vital; and the key to effective and positive results. All things should be consumed in moderation like everything in life!