Nutritious Street Food Alert: Okpa (Steamed Bambara groundnut Cake)

Okpa (Steamed Bambara groundnut Cake) is a street food that you see around being hawked from time to time. It is not as common as its Moin Moin (steamed cowpea) counterpart in Lagos but it gets its own glory as it is loved by many especially by the wise people from the Eastern part of Nigeria. It has the very bright yellow colour that attracts and it is sometimes wrapped in leaves or nylon.

I was at the market purchasing a few items when I spotted an Okpa Vendor. She was pleasant and allowed to take a few photographs. I also bought a piece which she sold for 50 Naira. I first wondered how this would fill a grown person because it was so small but I recall that the Okpa can be quite satisfying.

Okpa, Bambara groundnut which has been milled and steamed, is very nutritious due to the protein content and the quality of nutrients in it can be improved upon by adding vegetables like the fluted pumpkin (Ugu) during preparation. This increases the mineral content of the Okpa.



Raw Bambara groundnut contains antinutrients that inhibits some minerals from being available to the consumer hence the need to process. Some studies have shown that germinating and roasting the Bambara reduces the antinutrients greatly and so far, it is one of the best ways to ensure that nutrients they contain are available to the consumer. So after germinating and roasting, the Bambara can be milled into flour and then reconstituted into a paste as you would prepare the traditional moin moin. Bambara flour can also be added to other flours like Soybean and other cereals to improve the nutritional value.

A down side to the Okpa sold on the street is that some vendors use polythene bags to steam them. When polythene which is plastic is used to cook food, chemicals from this material leaches into the food especially when they are prepared at high temperature. So if you want to buy food from the streets, make sure that it is sold in a leaves instead of nlyons or the regular plastic containers we all know.

Okpa in Nylon



  1. Adumanya OC, Uwakwe AA, Ohiri RC, Odeghe OB,Obi-Adumanya GA and Chukwu MO. 2012. The vitamin and mineral contents of “OKPA” prepared with fluted pumpkin and scent leaves Indian Journal of Medicine and Healthcare Vol.1 No.3 (June 2012)
  1. Igbabul B, Adole D, Sule S. 2013. Proximate composition, Functional and Sensory properties of Bambara Nut, Cassava and Soybean flour blends for “Akpekpa” Production. Curr Res Food Sci 2013:1(2)
  1. N.C. Okafor, Jane C. Ani and Gabriel I. Okafor, 2014. Effect of Processing Methods on Qualities of Bambara Groundnut (Voandzeia subterranea(L.) Thouars) Flour and their Acceptability in Extruded Snacks. American Journal of Food Technology, 9: 350-359.
  2. Onimawo I.A, Ijeh I, Ukoha and Nwachukwu G.T. 2007. Determination of the glycemic index of steamed cakes using two different legumes ‘bambara nut (Vignasubterranean) and cowpea (Vigina unguiculata)’. African Journal of Biochemistry Research Vol.1 (7), pp. 142-147, December 2007
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