Okra scientifically known as Abelmoschus esculentus, also Hibiscus esculentus is one delicacy many Nigerians`cherish and relish daily. From the Yorubas in Ogun to the Benins in Edo and the Igbos in Imo, Okra is one meal that graces their dinning table. A lot of people know exactly how to combine it with eba, fufu, amala or pounded yam, but that’s just about all they know about it. Many have no idea where Okra was first discovered, what you do to yourself when you eat okra or whether Okra is only known to Nigerians or white people also eat it. INFORMATION NIGERIA brings you answers to all of these and many more in this piece…
– In Spain okra is ‘quibombo’; the French word is ‘gombo,’ ‘bamia’ or ‘bamya,’ in India it is ‘bhindi,’ and in the eastern Mediterranean and Arab countries ‘bamies’.
– The term okra was in use in English by the late 18th century.
– Okra probably originated somewhere around Ethiopia, and was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians by the 12th century B.C. Its cultivation spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East.
– The seed pods were eaten cooked, and the seeds were toasted and ground, used as a coffee substitute (and still is).
– Okra came to the Caribbean and the U.S. in the 1700s, probably brought by slaves from West Africa, and was introduced to Western Europe soon after. In Louisiana, the Créoles learned from slaves the use of okra (gumbo) to thicken soups and it is now an essential in Créole Gumbo.