The baobab tree has amazing myths surrounding it; being considered as the legend of trees with mysterious folktales about its very existence with so many fairy tales and jinx stories connected to the giant tree in most of the northern states of Nigeria especially places where the trees have been domesticated. It is believed to house ghosts, evil spirits, and Jinns because of its huge structures and ancient age; for the baobab tree is unique for two things, a gigantic size and found to be one of the oldest growing trees ever, that lives for thousands of years a larger than life tree. In traditional Nigerian societies, the baobab tree has a place in history and traditional folktales, every neighborhood in northern Nigeria has a baobab tree and it is mostly found in ancient households which many believe to be a source of wisdom and livelihood that has sustained generation of families for income, by selling its green leaves, fruits, and branches for cash money. The ancient tree provides for growing kids, the elderly, and the family as a whole shelter, and shade when the sun is shining bright; at night gives a beautiful moonlight shadow and silhouette for the kids to play traditional Nigerian games, which makes the lives of every Nigerian child so memorable such games played under the baobab tree includes “boju-boju” a hide and seek game with kids closing their eyes and hiding all around the great tree of folktales, while other kids play the game of ten-ten which involves clapping hands against each other and moving legs in the opposite direction all under the baobab tree, rope skipping by kids and teenagers is another game enjoyed by many. Grandparents also find a spot under the awesome baobab tree for storytelling while eating the pulp of the baobab fruits and the elderly at relaxation time play a game of “Ayo” in Yoruba which is called in Hausa “dara” while at the end of the day a delicious soup cooked with the dark green leaves of the baobab tree is served, making the mighty baobab tree to be regarded as a one-stop garden for food and fun.
The fruit of the baobab has hard outer shell pods that hang upside down from the treetop while the tree has its roots in the air; the inside of the pod is a white pulp with brown-like webbing fiber, which dehydrates as the fruit matures. The fruit pulp of the baobab tree is mostly collected which is enjoyed by children and they eat it regularly by either chewing on its white seeds directly; another favorite for kids and adults alike is by shaving the hairy fuzz, bore a hole at the end of the pod shell, then pour water into the pod, allow it to soak. Then a straw-like stick is used to push the sugar through the hole, mix it, shake it and lick or drink the sweet-sour pulp directly from the shell using the straw-like stick. The Baobab fruit pulps are harvested dried and ground into powder or eaten fresh; the pod that is a coconut-like shell is known as “kuka” in Hausa. The hard shell is crack open with a knife or hammer, and inside is a white pulp that is naturally dehydrated, sweet, natural, and organic superfood powder harvested, sieve and store for use in various recipes with a lot of health benefits. The white pulpy fruit surrounding the seeds is chewed or lick just like candy by kids and adults alike and even animals. And when soaked in water it produces a milky solution which is taken as a milk substitute or use in making sweet recipes for gruel a Hausa meal drink known as “kunu”, added to local yogurt called “nono or kindirmo” in the northern parts of Nigeria, or mix with milk for a yummy refreshingly sweet drink. It is advisable to incorporate the white pulpy powder into daily recipes such as beverages, smoothies, fruit juices, cereals, and other breakfast dishes for an exceptionally nutrient-rich healthy wellbeing. The white pulp inside the pod is nutritious with various recipes made with it such as a fruit-meal drink, sweet, milky pulp from the pod white fruits. The pod seeds are embedded in the dry acidulous pulpy white fruits which are so rich in pectins and tartrates have a sour-sweet taste kind of a sharp tartiness on the tongue but with superb loads of nutrients when eaten raw directly from the pod.
The Baobab Powder Known As Garin Farin Kuka In Hausa:- The baobab fruits pod are sold in almost every market in northern Nigeria, seen piled in heaps shelled or unshelled, the shelled pulpy fruits are measured and arranged in rows on a mat to be sold according to one’s demands. It is always best to have homemade baobab white powder handy; the baobab powder is when the pulp is ground into powder it is known as baobab powder or garin madara kuka. A very simple process and with just the fresh baobab pods to make, the fresh baobab powder is made from cracking open the baobab shell pod and the most important step here is to scrub the greenish, itchy fuzz off the shell pods of the baobab fruits to avoid getting it to mix into the fruit pulp, avoid cracking on the sandy place to keep out dirt, dust, and sands, hygiene is vital. A nutritious meal drink with calcium, Vit B, and C in abundant loads is made into “kunu” in Hausa a gruel meal prepared with ingredients of water, white pulpy fruits of the baobab, millets, and milk or yogurt, a fantastic refreshing drink meal.
The very first step is to crack open the baobab shell pods of the fruits, using a knife, hammer, or any heavy kitchen object, inside the shell pods is a white brain-like fruit with a light brown webbing of the fruit fiber holding them together. Then use a soup spoon or a knife to disentangle, or scoop the white fruit pulp from it and collect them into a tray or separate bowl.
Place in a mortar and push them around with the pestle, pound ever so slightly but gently to separate the white pulps from the seeds without breaking the seeds. sieve to separate the seeds and fibers from the powdered pulp; sieve twice for the best quality pulp.
Another step is to use a colander by simply rubbing the dehydrated white pulp against the colander to collect the powdered pulp in a bowl or a tray. Then sift it twice to remove any webbing fiber from the fruit that has initially pass through the sieve or colander. Discard the dark brown seeds or roast them to use for other recipes. The white pulp can be store in an airtight container or glass bowls, label with the name of the recipe and dates. Store and keep in a dry place. The taste of the white pulp is a mix of sweet and sour with a natural creaminess and tart flavor. A cottage cheese recipe known as “wara” in Yoruba or “awara” in Hausa is made using either milk or soybeans milk; the sour fruit pulp is added to the boiled fresh milk to make cottage cheese which serves as a curdling agent.
The Sweet Baobab Juice:-
The white pulp of the baobab fruits is known as “Kolon kuka or Garin Farin kuka” in Hausa, either freshly shelled from the baobab pod or the baobab white powder.
Milk is known in Hausa as Madara.
Sugar is “sigari” or honey known as “zuma” in Hausa; any sweetener of choice will do.
The flavor is optional, vanilla pods, cinnamon or local spices of ginger, and cloves.
Water is called “ruwa” in Hausa.
Soak the baobab pulpy seeds in water for some minutes, after which the fruit pulps will soften and separate from the hardcore seeds. Then whisk using a hand whisk, beat very well, and strain using a fine mesh. Discard the black hard seeds and brown stringy fiber. Transfer the juice into a jug-glass or a deep mixing bowl.
Put milk to boil in a clean dry pot, simmer on low heat. After the second boil, put off the heat and cool slightly. Next is to gradually add the cool milk to the strained pulpy fruit juice in the jug or bowl, use a wooden spatula to stir, then sweeten with any sweetener of choice. If desire add flavor but for best result, if using fresh vanilla pod seeds, boil with milk. Any favorite fruit juice will also give a nutritiously sweet taste and unique flavor.
Serve chilled immediately with iced cubes or store in refilled bottles and keep in the refrigerator for use any time. A soothingly healthy, yummy, and sweet drink for the stomach and great for growing kids, the aged which helps to build up and protect the bones due to its excellent calcium loads.
The Baobab Natural Juice:-
Baobab fruit pulps or powder.
Sugar is “sigari” in Hausa, Honey is “Zuma”, or any sweetener of choice.
Flavors of Vanilla, Cinnamon, Ginger are “Citta”, Cloves are “kanampari” in Hausa.
Water in Hausa is ruwa.
Soak baobab white pulp in warm water to retain its nutrients, avoid using very hot water, better still soak overnight in cool water.
Separate the pulp from the seeds by squeezing and rubbing it together using gloved hands or a whisk to beat together which is very effective in separating the pulps from the seeds.
Strain the juice into a jug using a fine mesh, push it through with the aid of a mixing spatula.
Sweeten with any sweetener of choice and add flavor according to taste which is optional but best to avoid it.
A healthy choice is best without any flavors, sweeteners, or additives for a delicious and yummy natural drink juice.
Serve chilled and store in the refrigerator in refilled bottles, label with name and dates.
The Baobab Green Leaves Soup (Fresh Or Dried) Known As Miyan Kuka In Hausa; Luru In Yoruba:- The fresh leaves are often dry and powdered; the baobab leave powder has almost the same nutrients as the fruit pulp powder, and it is best to “shade dry” the leaves to avoid losing their vitamin A loads because “sun drying” the leaves turns them yellow thereby making its dark green leaves lose their potency, then stored for use as dried powdered leaves soup known in Hausa as “miyan kuka”, which is a slimy soup just like the okra, a timeless soup surviving modernization in cuisines and finding its way through by tantalizing taste buds from the ancient days up to this day. There is no home in the northeast of Nigeria that has no special pot and place for this yummy healthy soup, every celebration is never complete without including this awesome soup in the cuisine, served in palaces for Royalty and in thatched homes of the poor Needy. The authentic traditional “Miyan Kuka” is prepared with red black-eyed beans only, served with pepper sauce and any swallow of choice; and the iron loads of “miyan kuka” are amazing it requires no meat except for added richness and appeal. This soup is super delicious but visually unappealing with its dirty green color, so nutrient-dense with a final slimy consistency but what this soup lacks in appeals is made up in tasty deliciousness.
Kuka green leaves powder (dried or fresh) in Hausa is garin miyan kuka busheshe ko danya.
Chicken is kaza in Hausa.
Smoked fish is bandar kiffi in Hausa.
Hausa names for Ginger is “citta”, “attarugu” is scotch bonnet, “tafarnuwa” is garlic, onions are “albasa”, locust beans is “daddawa”, Seasoning cubes, and “gishiri” is salt.
Palm oil, or groundnut oil. Mai’shanu in Hausa is “ghee” for added aroma while serving the meal.
Put the dressed chicken to boil, after cutting it into pieces, simmer on low heat with just a little water, add slices of onions, crushed garlic, salt, and seasoning cubes. Allow cooking, meanwhile blend the locust beans known as “daddawa” with scotch bonnets, onions, and ginger. Add to chicken, then add in some palm oil, stir- well to blend all ingredients. Wash and remove fish bones from the smoked fish and add to the soup, cover and simmer on low heat.
Check regularly to see the chicken and fish are soften; then remove and leave only the stock on low heat. Measure the required kuka leaves; using a hand whisk, introduce and whisk in the dried kuka leaves, with a bit of potash, beating in quickly to avoid lumps. Add according to the desire soup thickness but adjust the soup thickness by adding water to achieve the right soup consistency, but if using the fresh leaves wash well and add to the stock with potash, do not cover it to avoid boiling over, once the fresh kuka leaves soften beat quickly with a whisk and stir in all the boil fish and chicken. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, after a while removes from heat and serve with a popular Kanuri food known as “Burabisco” a cereal grain coarsely mill just like couscous, and then steamed; reasons why the Kanuri’s of Borno state in Nigeria are often called “burabisco da miyan kuka” and meals serve with this absolutely nutritious soup are tuwon shinkafa, tuwon dawa, tuwon masara, or any swallow of choice with a drizzle of ghee for an amazingly flavorful and tasty meal.
The bark, the fruit, and leaves of the baobab tree have been used in Nigeria as a cure and remedy for fever and digestive problems of the guts and the stomachs; the baobab tree is the ultimate for human nutrition; the seed and pod ashes when mix with water and filtered or strained are used in northern Nigeria to treat “dankanoma” known as a pile in Hausa. The roasted seeds are also used as toothpowder and the seed husks are used for seasonings in soups as a substitute for potash. The baobab powder is a rich source of vitamin C which boosts health benefits such as energy release, immune functions, healthy glowing skin, and many more. Baobab powder is a powerful prebiotic that contains more antioxidants than any other whole fruit, with its ease of absorption by the body system of the nutrients loads of the baobab, regular intake of the baobab guarantees adequate benefits of Vitamin C, which is perfect for the immune system in supporting the body’s defense against viruses, infections, and diseases. It is easily absorbed by the body better than most artificial food supplements; baobab contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, which helps to keep bowels healthy and makes digestion easy, and with its prebiotics which is excellent for gut health. A daily intake of just 2-3 teaspoons helps to reap a rich reward of healthiness for life. The white pulp is a sweet super-rich food with excellent vitamin C loads than most citrus fruits, great for fiber and superb blood alkalizing power, with nutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium; and amongst other benefits of the baobab, white pulpy powder with its yummy tangy-sweet fruit flavor supports the body’s immune system, improves digestion, and can aid weight loss with its prebiotic fiber which makes losing weight easier by feeding energy-burning bacteria.
The mineral loads of the baobab powder helps to lower blood pressure and improve circulation which helps to prevent heart diseases. the antioxidants found in the white fruit pulp of the baobab protect cells against free radical damage.
Regular intake of baobab powder helps to regulate blood sugar, slows down the rise in blood glucose which helps prevent sugar spikes in type-2 diabetes. The baobab vitamins and minerals make it possible for the human body to react and adapt to stressors. There are no significant adverse side effects from eating the fruits or green leaves of the baobab tree, in soups, drinks, or other recipes but it is always best to check or seek doctors’ advice if taking any medications, pregnant, or breastfeeding before consuming baobab as a herbal remedy.
The Baobab Tree Sustainability:- The baobab tree known as “Ita’chen kuka” in Hausa is one of the most cherished and priceless trees in the northeast of Nigeria where poverty, famine, malnutrition, war, and climatic change are prevalent and increasing by the day. The baobab tree has long term benefits to the community but the human usage and harvesting of the trees is detrimental to the health of the trees and may not be sustainable in the long term with the increased use of its branches for firewood which also affects its health; it is best to alter the locales harvesting practices and methods which will help to improve both the health of the trees and their yields. The baobab tree must be loved, respected, cared for, and protected because they provide medicine, food, and income; many families consider it as a life-giving tree due to the various uses, high nutritional and medicinal value, drought tolerance of the Sahara in the north-east. The baobab is a precious edible forest tree that has been domesticated in the north-east finding its roots and paths in the lives of many households but the legend of trees need to be protected, and conserved by cultivating the baobab tree species and protecting the small seedlings, not just in the Northeast but in every state in Nigeria!