For people in Enugu State, few foods bear the popular imprimatur of abacha. Commonly but erroneously called “African salad,” abacha is made from dried cassava flakes and garnished with ugba (fermented oil bean) and fresh vegetable and fish or ponmo, thick cow skin.
While it is made all over Igboland, Enugu abacha remains the standard. For Enugu people, it is a mark of hospitality, a representation of tradition passed on across generations.
Its making is simple. Either akanwu (potash) or ngu (palmfruit ash) is dissolved in water and stirred with palm oil until it becomes a yellowish paste, which may be heated, and pepper, crayfish, seasoning, and onions are added. The ugba, which must have been rinsed with warm water, is added, as is the abacha, which must have been soaked in water until softening. Garden egg leaves and onions are chopped or sliced and added.
Wet slices of abacha, before the preparation, could be eaten with groundnuts or coconut.
Abacha has been regarded as having health benefits, including bone protection and blood circulation. It could be eaten as a dessert or main course, and at every event—weddings, parties, life celebrations, burials—it is often present.
Otosirieze Obi-Young is Editor of Folio Nigeria, he profiles innovators and facilitators in culture: art, business, entertainment, activism, health, food. He is a writer, journalist, curator, media consultant, former academic, and Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Open Country Mag, a new online platform covering African literature. In 2019, he received the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. In 2020, he was named among "The 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians" by Avance Media. Find him on otosirieze.com or on Twitter & Insta: @otosirieze.