One of the joys of having my secondary school education in Enugu was Abacha. Boarding students were not allowed outside the gate, so my friends and I would give our day classmates money to get abacha from the woman who sold outside the school gate. With our eager faces pressed to the gate, we shouted to our saviours things like “Canda 50 naira!”, ” I want mmiri abacha”, “Tell her to more onions o!”. Such is the power abacha holds. However, we purged after eating it that I was forced to create a recipe that makes a delicious abacha without potash, which is meant to hold the oil to the abacha seamlessly.
Abacha is an Igbo delicacy from the people of Enugu state (specifically Oji river and Awgu). Abacha is also known as African salad and it is made from cassava.
- Ponmo (or as it is called in Igbo; canda)
- Yellow scotch bonnet peppers
- Garden eggs
- Palm oil
- Locust beans (ope in Igbo, iru in Yoruba)
-Wash and slice the Ponmo, start to boil with salt, sliced yellow scotch bonnet peppers and locust beans. Add crayfish and palm oil after a while then the fish as the broth thickens.
-Instead of adding water, flip the fish over carefully to enable it to cook, and remove it once it is done cooking.
-The idea is to have as little water as possible so the broth looks like just palm oil.
-Soak the abacha for 5 to 8 minutes in warm water and drain when soft (not too soft but chewable).
-Add ugba to the broth and add the drained abacha almost immediately.
-Stir continuously on the fire till everything mixes well.
-Serve with the fish, freshly sliced onions and garden eggs.
Note – The abacha is cooked so it can absorb the palm oil better. It gives it a slightly different look from the conventional abacha but it tastes no different (even better I believe). The locust bean is used to replace bouillon cubes.