Djansang, njangsa, essessang, wama,
Akpi is a round, yellow-brown seed, similar to a rounded almond, produced by the djansang (Ricinodendron heudelotii) tree, which grows mainly in western Africa. It has other names in other countries, such as njangsa or essessang in Cameroon or wama in Ghana. The tree grows wild in secondary forests, although its cultivation is beginning to take hold, thanks to its ability to enrich the soil. However, its survival is threatened by the progressive reduction of forests.
Its seeds are used to prepare a traditional seasoning – also called akpi – or to make an oil with cosmetic and medicinal properties. Akpis are contained in the pit of the djansang fruit and are collected when the fruits fall to the ground, in September and October. The fruits are left on the ground until the flesh is ripe and the pits can be easily removed.
To prepare the akpi seasoning, the pits are boiled so that they become easier. The akpi seeds are collected and then dried in the sun. When they are dry, they are grounded to obtain a powder. The obtained seasoning can be preserved for several years.
Akpi is used mainly to season and thicken sauces, soups and fish broth.
Like all other traditional condiments in western Africa, such as soumbala in Burkina Faso (also on the Ark of Taste), akpi is being progressively replaced by industrial stock cubes, both in cities and in the countryside.