There are dishes that you can’t miss as a child born into an Abia home. These dishes are peculiar to certain communities but they are now common among the people of Abia. Today, most of these dishes have been exported to other parts of the Southeast and beyond, but their roots are not in doubt. Here are five top dishes from Abia State you need to know, cherish, and explore.
Egusi and Oha
Preparing oha (ora) with ede (cocoyam) is awesome but have you tasted the Egusi and ora blend?
Egusi and oha as a pair may sound weird to non-Abians but it tastes amazing with all those sea foods that go with it. It is prepared the same way as Egusi and vegetables but the leaf, in this case, is the oha leaves.
Be aware that the egusi soup prepared by Abians is likely to be more watery than Egusi soup prepared by other Igbo states.
Buying Okazi leaf outside of Abia is an uphill task. You have to find a vendor who is usually never seen at surface value areas of the marketplace. It is not a leaf other Southeastern states are very familiar with (and it is hard not to feel sorry for those who don’t know this – if only they know what they are missing!).
Ofe Okazi prepared with Achi, ofo or egusi is another soup that is really delicious with its slightly peppery taste, natural spice and mangala fish. Ofe okazi is also prepared to be watery, the leaf paired with ofo makes it, arguably, the most inviting dish on this list. It is very inexpensive to prepare. To make it classy, you can add assorted meats and akpuru akpu egusi (which will be discussed below).
Ofe Achara with Akpuru Akpu Egusi
Akpuru akpu egusi is a delicacy most people outside Abia have never heard of let alone taste. The preparation is not only stressful but meticulous as extra care is required to achieve the consistency while pounding the Egusi so it does not scatter in the pot or become too hard or too soft to the point of melting once it hits your mouth.
To prepare Akpuru akpu egusi, you need Egusi, osu, hot water, mortar, and pestle. When done, it comes out disc-shaped or ball shaped and can take the place of meat in a soup. It is chewable.
Achara is a stick-like leaf. Most people find this Umuahia delicacy strange, they believe we are eating sticks and they are wrong.
Achara is not a stick, it will melt in your mouth when you chew, even without a crunch.
This Abia State dish is a combination of Achara stick, soup condiments and Egusi that is molded and dropped like balls into the soup. It is not an expensive food to prepare. Ofe achara is hardly commercial in that you can hardly share it in a restaurant, roadside and elsewhere. It is a homemade soup. To eat this, you have to make it or have your Abia friend serve you.
Okazi Agworo Agwo
This light-meal-intended delicacy is really light. It is mistaken for Abacha but it is not. It is a combination of all the goodies and snack Igbo delicacies come with. It is prepared like abacha except that the focus item is not cassava but ugba which is stirred with onions, pepper, diluted potash, anara and the handy okazi leaf. Absolutely yummy.
Okazi agworo agwo is a classist meal, reserved for the chairman of the occasion, the inlaws and the clergy, and your special guests.
This is a delicacy you can buy at bars and eateries. It doesn’t cost a penny.
This is another rich men for from Abia State. The food is common among Abiriba, Nkporo, and Ohafia natives. It is made from cocoyam grated to a thick pulp and prepared with assorted sea foods. It is very tasty and memorable.
The only kick is its look. Oto does not look very pretty. As kids, taking oto to school meant a full dose of banter from school mates who would say you are eating the unprintable. Nonetheless, it is a tasty and nutritious meal.
Note that ofe akwu (banga soup) is missing here. I was born in Abia State dishes but I was already 11when I ate ofe akwu (banga soup) for the first time in my life. This is the case for many Abians born in the early 90s. I love the Ofe akwu soup/stew delicacy especially when paired with nchu anwu but it was not common in Abia until recently and that is why it is not regarded as an Abia dish.
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