Okazi, Utazi, Uziza: Description, Recipes, Storage Etc

uziza utazi okazi

Uziza, Utazi, Okazi respectively

Some of the most frequently asked questions on all my recipes platforms are:

  • What’s the difference between uziza and utazi and okazi?
  • Which meals do I use utazi in?
  • Which meals do I use uziza in?
  • Which meals do I use okazi in?

And many more questions related to these 3 vegetables. Trust me, these are great questions because if you make a mistake and add one vegetable instead of another to a recipe, that meal will be completely ruined.

Okazi, Uziza and Utazi confuse a lot of people but not to worry, on this page, I will share my secrets and tips on how to tell them apart. Watch the video at the end to see me discuss this live!


Correct spellings with all the punctuation: Ụtazị.
The scientific name for utazi is Gongronema latifolium.

Utazi Characteristics

Utazi has the shape of a perfect heart. It is as perfect as a spade in the game of cards. It is bitter in taste but not as bitter as fresh bitter leaves. It’s a very mild bitterness.

Utazi: How I differentiate it

Of these three vegetables, utazi is the only one with the letter t in the name, it is heart shaped and it is bitter. All these words: utazi, bitter and heart contain the letter t.

Utazi Recipes

Utazi Alternatives

The best alternative to utazi is baby spinach, with emphasis on baby. You can use mature spinach but baby spinach is better. Baby spinach has the same texture as utazi. It is not necessarily bitter like utazi but when you add baby spinach to isi ewu and nkwobi, you will you will not miss utazi in these meals. I also add baby spinach to Abacha because baby spinach is also a great alternative to garden egg leaves.

Okazi or Ukazi

Correct spellings with all the punctuation: Ọkazị or Ụkazị.

Okazi has two Igbo names depending on the Igbo dialect. It is known as okazi in Enugu and Anambra States and ukazi in Imo and Abia States. I don’t know what it is called in Ebonyi State which is made up of partly old Enugu State and partly old Abia State.

It is known as Afang in Efik/Ibibio States.

The scientific name is Gnetum Africanum.

Okazi/Ukazi Characteristics

Okazi is the tasteless one out of these three vegetables. It has an oval shape (looks like fresh bay leaves) and is tough to touch.

Okazi/Ukazi how I differentiate it

Because it has two Igbo names and cannot decide on a taste for itself, I call it the confused (konfused) one. It is also the only vegetable with a K in the name. So: okazi is konfused. You see what I did with the K?

Okazi/Ukazi Recipes

Okazi/Ukazi Alternatives

No known alternatives. It is harder than your average leafy vegetable: ugu, spinach, green amaranth but it is not as hard as bay leaves.


Correct spelling with all the punctuation: Ụzịza.

Uziza is also known as False cubeb.

Uziza Characteristics

Uziza has a narrow heart shape. It has a spicy flavour.

Uziza how I differentiate it

All these vegetables have at least one Z in the name. Uziza is the only one that has two Zs. I believe it got the double z from the zing, the spiciness. That’s what I use to match the name to the leaf.

Uziza Recipes

Because of the spiciness, uziza is used to add the zing to some Nigerian recipes. You will often see it being added in addition to the normal vegetable used for the meal.

Uziza Alternatives

No known alternative.


As you can see, these vegetables are special vegetables unique to Nigeria. There are no known alternatives for some of them. What those who live outside Nigeria do is to dry these vegetables and take them abroad. But that strips these vegetables of their unique tastes and flavours and above all the freshness.

What I started doing a few years ago is to take these vegetables abroad with me in their fresh state then preserve them in the freezer. If the importation of these vegetables are allowed where you live, consider doing that when you travel to Nigeria. Watch the following videos (in the order they are listed below) for how I do that.

Please watch each video from beginning till the end. There are other information in the videos but the information you need is somewhere in the respective linked videos. Click on the blue links to watch.

  1. Buying the Vegetables in the Nigerian Market: When buying them, I make sure I buy the ones that have not been washed. Once vegetables are washed/rinsed, fermentation sets in. During the rainy season, they may not be washed but they have water on them due to the rain. In that case, buy and pat them dry with paper towels.
  2. Prepping the Vegetables for Travel: In this video you will see how I meticulously wrap them to make sure they do not decay by the time I arrive my destination.
  3. Cleaning, Prepping and Storage: In this video, you will see how I prepare the vegetables on arrival to my base abroad, how I pack and store them in the freezer.
  4. Usage in the Recipes: In this video, you will see how I add the vegetables when cooking. It is not the same way as when using fresh vegetables. You need a little tweak for the vegetables to look fresh in the meals.

Watch the video below to see me talk about Utazi, Okazi and Uziza. Enjoy!