About three or four years ago, when I started researching into the medicinal properties of Nigerian food, I came across Moringa oleifera (known as Zogale in Hausa). I was very excited reading about its nutritional value. The entire tree is useful to man: the nutrient-packed leaves and seeds are edible; the roots can be used to purify water; the plant is drought-resistant, grows in poor soil and is fast-growing! No wonder some people call it the tree-of-life or miracle tree.
I called my friend, Margaret (who was living in Awka, Eastern Nigeria, at the time) to ask if she had heard of it and she said no. A few hours later, she called me to say that a staff member was drinking some tea made from fresh moringa leaves (she was feeling poorly) and swore that the tea would cure her. It turned out that Margaret had loads of moringa trees growing in her compound! Many of her staff drank it daily as a preventative measure against various ailments.
Interestingly, the Hausa also use the fresh leaves in salads or steamed and added to soups.
It is reputed to cure over 300 ailments, some of which have been apparently verified by the scientific community.
I did try growing some in my London kitchen underneath my skylight. One of the seeds eventually sprouted and I had a tiny plant which unfortunately did not last very long. I’ve still got loads of pods and will no doubt try again one of these days!
- 3 ripe mangos, about 1.8kg, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 ripe guavas, about 250g, chopped
- 3 ripe bananas, about 400g, peeled and roughly chopped
- Zest and juice of 3 limes
- 6 teaspoons of zogale (moringa) powder
- 6 tablespoons of plain yoghurt
- Set aside some of the mango. Place the rest of the mango, guavas, bananas, zongale, lime juice and part of the lime zest in a blender together with the yogurt and blitz it until you get a smooth mixture.
- Pour the smoothie into individual glasses and top with the reserved chopped mango and some lemon zest.
- Serve with some honey and fresh strawberries on the side.
A handful of strawberries per person
Chopped nuts such as almonds or cashew nuts (optional)