To Nigerians, ukazi is a vegetable and an excellent, vital food source.
The plant is a vine known scientifically as Gnetum africanum and belongs the Gmetaceae family. the plant grows in the tropical forests and is native in the south eastern part of Nigeria as well as other countries.
It is grown as a perennial which is 10 meters long with think paper-like leaves growing in groups of three. the leaves can be 8cm long. When mature the vine will produce small cone-like reproductive structures.
The plant has many names in other African countries. In the Cameroon it is called ‘Eru’. In Angola, the Central African Republic and the Congo, it is known as ‘koko. Some Nigerians know it as ‘Fumbua’. In England we might call it a form of wild spinach after the manner of its cooking.
Cooking With Ukazi
The leaves are a vegetable used like spinach or spinach beet. It is used in soups, stews and gruels. They can be eaten raw.
Health Benefits Of Ukazi
The leaves have been taken to ward off nausea, to dress warts and reduce the pain from sore throats. In some tribes, ukazi is eaten to reduce the pain of childbirth.
Nutritionally it is a good source of protein. It contains a variety of amino-acids including glutamic acid, leucine and aspartic acid.