As I always do, I constantly explore new ways to incorporate the hugely under-utilised (undiscovered) and abundant varieties of indigenous Nigerian fruits, into my every day recipes. Today, I am focusing on a popular Nigerian fruit, the African Star Apple (agbalumo in Yoruba or udara/udala in Igbo language).
Like most youths in Nigeria (and even adults), I love this fruit, especially for its sweet and tart taste. I had lots of fun eating it back in the day and still enjoy it even now, when its in season.
Star apples are a rich source of calcium, with each serving providing up to 10% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). This fruit also contains good amounts of vitamins A and C (higher, in fact than levels found in oranges or guava). Star apples are also quite rich in iron (a mineral the body needs daily).
According to a report published by the African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, the leaves of the star apple tree and to some extent the flesh of the fruit itself, possess some chemical nutrients which have similar properties to insulin found in the body, and believed to effectively reduce blood sugar levels. This property makes the leaves/fruits useful medically, for the treatment of type two diabetes though further research is being carried out.
Some other traditional uses/remedies of the star apples (including fruits, leaves and bark) include:
* Reduction of inflammation associated with laryngitis (sore throat) and pneumonia
* Treatment for hypertension & heart problems
* Antibacterial properties useful in the relief of tooth abscesses, intestinal/stomach upset, skin infection and diarrhoea.
* 3-4 agbalumo fruits (Peel the skin and finely chop the flesh. Carefully remove the seeds and use as part of your garnish)
* 1 large tub of your favourite vanilla ice-cream (ensure you get a good quality vanilla ice-cream. Chocolate or other flavour ice-creams do not work for this recipe).
* Some crushed Oreo biscuits (make sure you remove the cream from the biscuit first. Alternatively use any of your preferred biscuits).
* Some crushed chin-chin (optional).
* Some crushed roasted ground nuts/peanuts (optional).
* Some honey or cane sugar syrup. (You can also use more healthy alternatives like maple syrup or agave nectar).
What to do:
Please note, in this recipe, I have not made specific reference to quantity of ingredients, to enable you adjust them to meet your preference for sweetness, textures and flavours.
1. First prepare the fruit well in advance of making your ice-cream cake. In a small container, add some syrup to the chopped agbalumo. Add as much or as little syrup as you wish. The more syrup the sweeter and mellower the taste. Allow this to marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight. The longer the better.
2. Remove the ice-cream from the freezer and allow to stand for a short while to melt a little. When melted enough to incorporate other ingredients, transfer into a mixing bowl and add the crushed biscuits, chin-chin and peanuts (if using). Also add a good portion of the syrup marinated agbalumo. (Save some to serve with the ice-cream cake later).
3. Mix well for an even distribution of all ingredients.
4. Line any available bowl, cake pan or jelly mould, with some cling film (or food grade cellophane wrap). This will facilitate easy removal of the frozen ice-cream cake.
5. Transfer the ice-cream mixture into the lined bowl. Gently tap the bowl on the table to level the mixture, and remove any air bubbles trapped in.
6. Place the bowl into the freezer and allow to freeze preferably overnight. Serve with the remaining syrup marinated agbalumo with the whole cluster of seeds.