By Echika Udechukwu As the name implies, Bitter leaf is a bitter plant whose leaf extracts, stem and bark is used for culinary, medical and curative purposes. The leaf may be bitter to taste but is very nutritional as it contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B1 and vitamin B12. Scientifically it is known as Vernonia amygadalina, and is also called onugbo, shawaka and ewuro by the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba in Nigeria respectively. It is an indigenous African plant species, which can be found growing wild along the edges of agricultural fields. It can be cooked, both as a leafy vegetable and also used as a flavour in making soups commonly in Africa. Bitter leaf soup is a popular dish in Nigeria and is cooked differently in each region. This recipe is from the eastern part of the country and is thickened with cocoyam. Ingredients: 1kg meat 5 cups of stock A heap of bitter leaf, properly washed and coarsely chopped 2 cups cocoyam, mashed 500g dried fish 500g stockfish 200g kpomo 1/2 cup crayfish, ground Chilli pepper to taste 3 seasoning cubes 2 cups palm oil Periwinkle 2 medium size onions, chopped 2 tsp ogiri (optional) Salt to taste. Preparation: Wash all the ingredients properly and keep them separately in clean bowls or a tray Season and boil the meat to get your stock Boil the periwinkle with salt and wash properly When the meat is almost soft, add the stockfish and kpomo Add water to desired quantity and allow to boil Mash the cocoyam into a paste with 2 tablespoons of palm oil When the water starts to boil, scoop in the mashed cocoyam to thicken it Add more palm oil if necessary Add the dried fish, pepper, crayfish, ogiri and periwinkle Cook for about 15mins for it to thicken Add the chopped bitter leaf and then salt to taste Cooking time is 1 hour 30 minutes, and it serves four people.