How to Make the Perfect Nkwobi at Home: Spicy Cow Foot
Nkwobi is a Nigerian delicacy that is usually ordered and enjoyed in exclusive restaurants.
It is simply cooked cow foot mixed in spicy palm oil paste. Nkwobi is often mistaken for Isi Ewu but they are not the same.
Making nkwobi at home can be a great way to enjoy this Nigerian delicacy without having to leave your own kitchen. Follow this guide and you’ll have delicious nkwobi ready in a few simple steps.
INGREDIENTS FOR NKWOBI
2kg (4.4 lbs) cow foot (cut into sizeable pieces)
20cl (200ml) Palm Oil
1 tablespoon powdered edible potash (Akanwu/Kaun/Keun)
1 teaspoon ground Ehu seeds (Calabash Nutmeg)
2 tablespoons ground crayfish
2 habanero peppers (or to your taste)
1 medium onion
2 big stock cubes
Salt (to taste)TO GARNISH
1 medium onion
10 Utazi leaves (Gongronema latifolium)
Once you have the ingredients for your nkwobi ready, it’s time to start cooking! Heat up some vegetable oil in a pot over medium-high heat and then add in the crayfish pieces. Let these fry until they turn golden brown, then pour in the palm oil and let this simmer for about five minutes. Reduce the heat as needed so that nothing gets burned. Stir everything together thoroughly to ensure all of the ingredients have been evenly combined. This is a crucial step that will really make sure your nkwobi has that classic flavor and texture we know and love!
NOTES ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS
1. The 2kg of cow foot may sound like a lot but remember that cow foot is mostly bones so 2 people that love Nkwobi can finish that in no time.
2. Cow foot is quite tough so if you have a pressure cooker, do use it for cooking it to save time and gas/electricity. You may be able to buy calf foot which is softer and cooks in less time.
3. Ehu (Calabash Nutmeg) is a very traditional ingredient that is difficult to find outside Nigeria. If you can’t buy it where you live, just prepare the Nkwobi without it. Ordinary nutmeg is not an alternative to this because they are not similar in any way. If you have friends or family in Nigeria, they will be able to buy ehu seeds and send to you, a small quantity goes a long way.
4. Potash is what makes the palm oil curdle as you will see in the video below. An alternative I know is what we call Ngu in Igbo. Ngu is even more traditional than potash so if you can’t find potash, chances are that you won’t be able to get Ngu either.
5. Utazi adds a nice bitter flavour to the Nkwobi. if you can’t buy it where you live, use spinach (bold ones), it gives the same effect and actually tastes nice! In fact that’s what I used.
BEFORE YOU MAKE THE NKWOBI
1. Cut the cow foot into medium chunks. Where I live, the butchers cut it for me.
2. Put the powdered potash into a bowl. Add a small quantity of water (about 4 table spoons) and stir well.
3. Pass it through a fine sieve and set the liquid aside.
4. Cut 1 onion into 4 big chunks.
5. Pound the pepper with a mortar and pestle or blitz it.
6. Grind the crayfish.
7. Crack and remove the outer shell of the ehu then grind with a dry mill eg coffee grinder.
DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING NKWOBI
1. Wash and put the cow foot chunks in a pot.
2. Add the stock cubes (crushed) and the chunks of onion.
3. Add a small quantity of water and start cooking at medium heat till well cooked. Add just enough water to prevent burning as you cook. There should not be any stock (water) in the pot when the meat is done.
4. While the meat is cooking, pour the palm oil into a clean dry pot.
5. Pour in the potash mixture (sieved) into the oil.
6. Stir with a wooden spatula as you pour the potash. You’ll notice the palm oil begin to curdle and turn yellow.
7. Keep stirring till all the oil has turned yellow.
8. Add the ground crayfish, pepper and ehu seeds. Stir very well till they are all incorporated.
9. When the meat is done, add salt, stir and cook till all the water has dried.
10. Add the well done cow foot to the palm oil paste and stir very well with the wooden spatula.
11. Put it back on the stove/cooker and heat till the Nkwobi is piping hot, stirring all the time to make sure it does not burn.
12. To prepare the garnish, cut the onions into rings and cut the utazi into long thin slices.
13. Serve the Nkwobi in a wooden mortar as shown in the image above.
14. Add the thin slices of utazi and onion rings on top for the full effects.
Best served with chilled drinks: palm wine, beer or stout and soft drinks.