Abacha, also known as African Salad, is a meal from cassava which is prepared with various other ingredients such as African oil bean (ugba or ukpaka). The best memories of Abacha are probably at your grandparent’s house. When prepared, this meal can be heavily garnished, like regular salads and still taste just as good.
This meal is one in which the Igbos value and cherish very much, in the eastern part of Isuochi in Imo state as a guest you are first welcomed with this amazing delicacy.
Abacha itself is made from cassava. The cassava skin is peeled, the peeled tuber is then sliced and soaked in a large body of water such as spring water for 2 to 3 days. When soaked to perfection, it is left to sundry to harden. There are various types of Abacha which are;
- White abacha eaten with coconut
- Eshi lo oku ( Hot abacha prepared on fire) This type is mainly prepared during cold weather
- Abacha a gwo la gwo ( Porridge abacha )
Ingredients for Abacha/African Salad
Ingredients used in making Abacha or African salad vary from person to person. Some people like to get creative by adding garden eggs, onions and other vegetables or protein, whereas some like it plain and simple. Here are the basic Abacha ingredients.
- 3 handfuls of Abacha
- 2 cups of ugba
- red palm oil
- Assorted fish
- 2 tablespoons powdered potash
- Dry pepper
- 4 tablespoons of grounded crayfish
- Stockfish ( optional )
- 2 stock cubes
- Fresh utazi leaves or Garden egg leaves
- Cowskin/ ponmo ( optional )
- 2 teaspoons of ground Ehuru seeds (Calabash Nutmeg)
- I cup Local beans ( optional)
- 1 cup Corn seedlings ( optional )
Before making any dish, you realize some ingredients have to go through one process or the other off heat. Therefore, it is important to get all ingredients ready beforehand to reduce cooking time and have your dish turn out right.
- Soak the Abacha for 2-3 minutes in cool water and put it in a sieve to drain.
- Debone, break into small pieces, then wash the dry fish in warm water with a pinch of salt and set aside.
- Rinse the stockfish and cook till it’s soft. The stockfish should be deboned when it is soft.
- Mix edible potash/limestone with some water, stir and set aside.
- Dice a part of your onions into tiny pieces and cut the other into rings.
- Rinse the leafy vegetable, cut some into tiny pieces, some into thin stripes.
- Unwrap or take out your ukpaka/ugba and set aside.
- If you’re feeling creative, you can dice some garden eggs into tiny pieces, boil local beans and corn seedlings to add to your meal.
- Crack open the ehuru seeds, and roast in a small frypan alongside the dry pepper, stir so it does not get burnt when roasted for 2mins, put in a mortar and grind till smooth.
Having your ingredients prepared beforehand makes it easier and faster to make the Abacha. This will ensure you have the right proportions of the ingredients, Sometimes you might want to just throw everything in the pot and boil. However, if you do this you will not get the desired results because ingredients have different cooking durations and temperatures and other conditions. The Igbo always makes use of local mortar in the preparation instead of a pot as they say there is a special taste it gives to it.
- Pour the palm oil into the mortar, making sure it is the topmost part of the oil. Pour little of the water from the potash mixture.
- Stir very well until you see the oil turn into a thick yellow paste. Ensure the edible potash sediments do not get into the pot.
- Add the grounded pepper and ehuru, stock cubes, diced onions, crayfish, and ugba, then stir very well.
- Add the ogiri and mix well.
- Add the diced cow skin or ponmo, and any other creative additions of your choice and stir very well.
- Carefully add the soaked and drained Abacha and stir till it is well mixed in the palm oil paste with other ingredients.
- Add salt to taste and stir well. Make sure to add salt last because after packing in all the seasoning, there may be no need for salt. Also, taste the food before adding salt to know whether there is a need for salt.
- Add your desired garnishing ingredients Like garden egg, garden egg leaves or any other leave, Onions, and ungrounded crayfish and serve with palm wine or any other nice cold drink of your choice or water.