Abacha is a cassava staple meal to the people of Eastern Nigeria, particularly the Igbo people, popularly called Abacha Ncha. It is called African salad because the Igbo’s ideology is that salad is made from fresh, raw ingredients and eaten without further cooking. Although very filling, Abacha is eaten as a snack and can also be eaten as a full meal. Also,it is regarded as a special dish during festivals.
The ingredients used in making Abacha include Abacha, Ugba (ukpaka) diced garden eggs, chopped garden egg leaves, fresh utazi leaves,uziza leaves, okazi (ukazi) leaves, powdered potash, ground ehu seeds, dry/roasted fish, ogiri or iru, palm oil, chopped onions, salt and dry pepper, ground crayfish, stock cubes, boiling water, diced cooked Ponmo.
Abacha, which is the main ingredient is gotten from processed cassava. After cassava tubers are harvested, peeled washed and cooked, they are then gratted or shredded into thin slices. These slices are soaked in water overnight to undergo fermentation which basically reduces hydrogencyanide and the starch content. It is then washed again and dried for about 2-3 days.
Photo Credit: Daily Fresh Eat
No matter how it is prepared, Abacha is always a delicious dish. However, a lot of people claim that the tastiness of this dish depends on the richness and variety of the ingredients added to it. So, if you get around to preparing it, you can always experiment with the ingredients and setermine what recipes or ingredients do the job for you. One of the main hacks of preparing African salad nicely is ensuring that all the ingredients are well incorporated that is why you can’t just add all the ingredients together at the same time. No magic will ever make it taste good if done that way hence you have to add in batches, stir well and follow the recipe. Usually, it takes about 40 minutes to prepare Abacha.
Per single serving the African salad has an average composition of 21% cabohydrate, 4% of protein, 0% fat, 3% fiber and about 72% moisture content with an approximated energy value of 169 calories with plenty minerals. Abacha is highly nutritious, quite suitable for every age group and even people on a weight loss diet. Research has shown that eating this meal could be helpful in preventing illnesses like colon cancer, some types of heart diseases, weight issues, microbial infections like syphilis and staphylococus. If you have digestive problems, you will like the African salad because it is gluten free and the leaves contained make for good fibre content that ease bowel movement. It is also very rich in antioxidants, b-complex nutrients, beta carotene, and minerals like potassium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, sodium and zinc.
After preparing the dish, you can choose to spice it up a little more by garnishing with chopped utazi or garden egg leaves and sliced onions. Some people even go as far as pairing their African salad dish with rice, or other snacks liuke nuts, kernels and coconut which further increases the nutritional value of Abacha. It can also be served with a cold drink like beer, palm wine or wine. You can eat abacha cold or warm depending on how you like it.