Abacha — the food, not the Nigerian sugar daddy — is a popular Eastern Nigerian dish also known as “African Salad”.
Typically made with the African oil bean seeds (ugba), abacha is one delicacy that can make an Igbo man willingly surrender his belongings — it’s that good. Not everyone is sold on this dish, though, as some argue that it’s overrated.
Image source: Meal Planner kitch’n
We spoke to seven Nigerians, and here’s what they think:
“It tastes much better than it looks”
— Ayomide, 23
I have to admit that, for the longest time, whenever I saw people eating abacha, I thought it was rubbish. There’s just this way it used to look to me.
In January 2022, I eventually decided to try it when my mum bought some for her friends. I was pleasantly surprised. I absolutely love the unique taste, especially when mixed with the sauce. I now actively look for abacha sellers to buy from every day.
“I thought it tasted bland”
— Abass, 31
I had my first taste of abacha in 2010. I was a first-year student at the college of health technology in Yaba, and I noticed that many of my female colleagues loved buying it with stew, ponmo and all the orisirisi added.
I decided to try it one day, and while it wasn’t exactly bad, it tasted more like a regular salad — nothing special. I’ve had it once since then, and I honestly think it’s kinda overrated.
“It tasted like soap”
— Esther, 21
I don’t like it at all. I first had abacha in Lagos in 2020. Before then, I always saw it around, and I’d wonder what it tasted like.
On the day I finally had the opportunity to eat it, I was with a friend, and she had called on a hawker to purchase some. She asked if I wanted a plate, but I decided to try some from her portion first, before buying what I wouldn’t be able to eat.
When we got home, she dished it out, and I was eager to try it. The very first spoon that went into my mouth came back out with the same speed with which it entered. It tasted like it had soap in it. It might have been the oil, but I’ve never tried to eat it again. It’s overrated, abeg.
“Abacha is definitely not overrated”
— Eniola, 26
The first time I had it was around 2007 when it was prepared by my Yoruba father. Before then, I never knew something like that existed.
I prepare it now myself, and even though it isn’t exactly the same as what my dad used to make (he’s late now), I still find the taste to be really sumptuous and unique. The taste also varies, depending on how you make it, but it’s a hit every single time.
“I hated it until I got to Enugu”
— Amaka*, 25
As an Igbo girl, I always used to get teased when I said I didn’t like abacha. It’s like people expected me to love it just because I’m Igbo.
We live in Lagos and have never made it at home because my dad doesn’t like it so my first taste was from a roadside seller. It was so bad and I swore never to let it pass through my lips again.
But in 2019, I went for NYSC in Enugu and I was bullied into having abacha again, and I realised that I’d been deceived in Lagos. Enugu abacha is fire and I honestly feel sorry for people eating the rubbish they sell in Lagos.
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“It’s not that great”
— John*, 27
I’d lived in the North my whole life and only moved to Lagos in 2018. Lagos is a whole new experience, and as a foodie, I was eager to try new dishes.
A friend introduced me to abacha and from how hype she was about it, I was expecting something spectacular. The first time I saw it, I was a bit taken aback — it doesn’t look that great and the smell is somehow. Yet, I found the courage to try it; while I loved the several protein obstacles, I’m not a huge fan of abacha itself.
It’s not bad but I don’t love it.
“It takes some getting used to”
— Hannah*, 28
I like abacha on some days. Other days, I don’t even want to see it. Eating it for the first time, it attacks you with an entirely new texture, and it’s like your brain has to override the “what the hell is this?” alert.
Abacha isn’t bad, but I don’t think it’s that great, really. I guess it depends a lot on who makes it.
*Some names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.