African Salad, or Abacha as it is called, is a delicious Nigerian meal that is native to the ndi Igbo (people of Igbo). It is an extremely popular evening dessert in Nigerian eastern villages and is most often served to guests. Abacha is a by-product of cassava and quite a number of steps are involved in getting abacha from cassava. Most rural dwellers in eastern Nigeria know of all these processes. Unless you own a farm or dwell in a rural area…don’t stress out over it.
African Salad is never complete without Ugba (Ukpakpa). Ugba is made from oil bean seeds which are cooked for a few hours, sliced, washed, and then left to ferment.
To make African Salad, here’s what you need;
- 3 handfuls abacha
- 2 cups ugba (ukpakpa)
- 30 cl red palm oil
- 2 tablespoons powdered potash (food tenderizer)
- Fish (Mackerel/Dry Fish/Stockfish)
- 1 large onion
- Salt and dry pepper (to taste)
- 4 tablespoons ground crayfish
- 2 stock cubes
- 1 teaspoon ground ehu seeds (calabash nutmeg)
Other ingredients needed to make the salad are;
- 3 Fresh Utazi leaves (Gongronema latifolium)
- Ponmo (cooked cow skin)
- Garden Eggs (As much as you want)
- Garden Egg leaves (1 medium- sized bunch)
- 1 medium onion (for serving)
Most Nigerian foods are served with either fish or meat. This dish (African Salad or Abacha) is also served with either fresh fish, meat or dried stock fish (okporoko).
To prepare Abacha (African Salad);
- You can use either the dried or wet abacha but the dried abacha is recommended because you have the advantage of heating it up for a few minutes without it being too wet. You can also use a combination of both by heating or soaking the dried abacha in boiled water for 3 minutes or less. Please sieve and keep in a separate bowl. You can mix both the dried and wet abacha as you proceed with your cooking.
- Blend the crayfish and also slice the onions, garden egg leaves.
- Dissolve the powdered potash in about 5 cl of clean water. It helps to filter out unwanted stuff that you would usually find in potash.
- Filter the dissolved potash into a mortar or small pot. Get rid of the residue.
- Add about 100ml of palm oil and stir to form a yellowish paste (ncha, as addressed by the Igbos).
- Add the ground crayfish and pepper and stir. Then add the ground ehu.
- Ugba is an important ingredient in the process of making African salad. Without this ingredient, African Salad is incomplete. Ugba is usually sold in most Nigerian markets or African shops (if you live outside Nigeria).
- Add the ugba to the mixture and stir, and then add the abacha and salt. It is advisable to heat the abacha (using the method outlined above) just for 3 minutes before you use so it doesn’t get cold. It is best eaten warm.
- Stir the whole combination and you are almost through with the preparation part.
- The garden eggs, the leaves and the onions are used mostly to spice up the dish. They are also used to decorate it. Please note that they must NOT be added during preparation but while dishing the Salad. They are often sliced and kept aside in different plates or bowls, then added when the Salad is to be served on individual plates. This also goes for the meat or fish used.
- Taste the combination in the mortar or pot, if it is exactly how you want it. You can also heat the salad for a few minutes again just to keep it warm and delicious.
Voila! Your African Salad is ready to served. It can be enjoyed with almost any kind of drink.
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