Locust bean, commonly referred to as iru by Yorubas, ‘ogiri', ‘dawa dawa’ by Igbos, is a local seasoning or condiment used in soups and stews. A very popular soup ingredient, globally, it is referred to as African locust bean with the botanical name as Parkia biglobosa.
It can be found in a wide range of environments in Africa and is primarily grown for its pods that contain both a sweet pulp and valuable seeds.
The yellow pulp, which contains the seeds, is naturally sweet “and is processed into a valuable carbohydrate food known as sikomu and daddawa among the Yoruba and Hausa people respectively.
The most valuable parts of the locust bean are high in lipid (29%), protein (35%), carbohydrate (16%), and is a good source of fat and calcium for rural dwellers.
The seed is first cooked to remove the seed coat and then fermented to produce the desired result. When it is fermented, the Yoruba have a way of getting two types from it, the mashed type and the loose or free type, and they are used for different types of soups, but for the same purpose.
1. The fermented locust bean seed is used in controlling diabetes and cholesterol level.
2. It helps to promote good sight and aids digestion.
3. It is used for treating stroke and hypertension.
4. The water and alcoholic extracts of fermented locust bean is used to reduce blood sugar.
5. It is used in the management of bacterial infections.
6. The locust bean contains tannins, which is often recommended for the treatment of diarrhoea.
7. It is a potential benefit for enhancing weight loss.
The crushed bark of the locust bean tree has also been revealed to help in wound healing and serves as one of the ingredients used in treating leprosy. The decoction of the bark is also used as bath for fever and as a hot mouth wash to steam and relieve toothache in Cote d’Ivoire.