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On our menu today is the culinary delight, nkwobi. Nkwobi is a popular meat sauce found in most bars and local restaurants in different parts of Nigeria. Cow leg is the main ingredient for this meal. The best accompaniment for Nkwobi is a chilled drink. This spicy meal is best served warm in a mini mortar which the Igbo call okwa.




Potash or ngor

Scent leaves

Palm oil

Fresh pepper

Ehuru (Calabash nutmeg)


Stock cubes


How to Cook

Cut the meat into medium sized chunks and rinse them thoroughly to eliminate sand. Put in a clean pot and spice the meat with onions, stock cubes and salt. Bear in mind that nkwobi is usually prepared with soft meat. In fact, any peppered meat should be cooked till it is tender. If it is prepared with strong meat, the type my people call nchikili (catapult) or atakata agbufuo (spit out when you are tired of chewing), pepper will enter people’s eyes when they are dragging the meat while eating it. Cow leg takes forever to tenderize if it is cooked in the regular pot. So, I prefer to use pressure pot to cook it. Please note that while this wonder pot is time saving, it can turn the cow leg to pap if it is not properly timed. To avoid stories that touch, I cook cow leg with little water for fifteen to twenty minutes.

When the meat is on fire, rinse and slice the scent leaves and the onions. Set aside for later use. Let me quickly say that while some people use these two ingredients in the preparation process, some others use it for decoration. Now, when they are used for decoration, it is easy for those who do not care for it to push it aside. Onions for garnishing is usually cut into rings.

Rinse the ugba and set aside for later use. Dissolve the ngor in a little water and sieve out the particles. Pound or blend the crayfish, pepper, locust beans and ehuru. Please note that before blending the ehuru, the shell is first removed. This can be done easily by pan roasting or roasting in open flames.  

Nkwobi can either be prepared in a mortar or a pot. Heat palm oil in a pot till it gets a little bit hot. Add the sieved ngor liquid into it. Stir thoroughly with a wooden spatula to obtain the thick yellow paste which the Igbo call ncha. Add the blended ingredients. Add stock cube and salt to taste. Stir in the ugba and add the cooked cow leg into the sauce (with very little meat stock). Stir very well and place the pot on the burner and allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir from time to time to ensure that it does not burn. Turn off the heat.

Your nkwobi is ready. Serve in a small wooden mortar. Garnish with the sliced onion rings and scent leaves. Serve with palm wine or any chilled drink.

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This article was first published on 19th June 2019


Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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