African salad, also known as ‘abacha’ is made from cassava. It is white in colour and crunchy when chewed. It is usually topped with spiced protein like fried fish, spiced beef or animal skin, known as momo. When dry, Abacha is eaten as a snack with coconuts, roasted groundnuts and cashew nuts. But when it is eaten as a salad the garnishing is taken up a notch with other fresh condiments and vegetables.
Most of the time, it is spiced with pepper sauce, pepper stew, some green leafy vegetables, garden eggs, peppered kpomo (cow skin), fried fresh fish and embellished with shreds of African oil bean, popularly known amongst the Igbos of the Eastern part of Nigeria as ‘ugba’. African Salad is not be complete without ugba. The seeds are cooked for several hours then sliced, washed and left to ferment a little bit. As a matter of fact, the price for a fully garnished plate of African Salad with ugba is higher than the one without ugba.
Abacha, is served in at different occasions including naming ceremonies and even traditional Igbo marriage ceremonies. It can be eaten as a meal or snack. Many people eat it as a meal because it is fills up your stomach just like any other meal and yet leaves you with the after taste of a spicy meal.
Abacha is an easy go-to meal anytime of the day while on the move and it is really affordable. The easy accessibility of ‘abacha’ makes it convenient and most people would rather buy than go through the stress of making it. You can find Nigerian women hawking Abacha, the relished African Salad, in busy shopping malls, markets and local restaurants and even intercontinental restaurants in Nigeria.
Story: Ehi Ohiani
Pictures: Ene Ken-Yawe