Food is one of the defining factors of any and every culture; so saying, every food we eat can be traced as belonging to the culture of a certain kind of people. The Igbo culture definitely has delicious native meals that complement our wealthy culture; so come with me as we cruise around the sea of Igbo food and be rest assured that your taste buds will quiver in longing. First off on the list is:
Abacha(African salad): funky Nigerians! Why won’t we call that attractively garnished food African salad? We have many kinds of salad: green salad, vegetable salad, fruit salad etc why won’t we have our own African salad? It is salad as long as it consists of “small pieces of food, which may be mixed with a sauce(Wikipedia) and we have sliced cassava, ugba, garden eggs, utazi leaves etc in our African salad. If you have tasted the “foreign” salad made with cabbage, carrots and everything “oyiboish” and have not yet tasted our very own salad, then you really are missing out. Abacha will leave that tangy utazi taste in your mouth that will leave you longing for more.
Okpa: I saw somewhere that the English name for it is “Bambara nut fruit”, not sure of that but I do know that Bambara nut seeds are used in making this lovely Igbo food. It can be either a meal or a snack; for me, during my school days, I named it “my life-saving snack”. When prepared well, okpa can transport you to the highest heavens; it can be taken with pap or custard. Use and enjoy taking it with soaked garri during owu(scarcity) period like I did. This snack does not only romance the taste buds, it also contains nutrients capable of regulating blood pressure, blood clotting, blood lipid level etc. so what are you waiting for, especially if you happen to be visiting the eastern part of Nigeria? Indulge your taste buds in the delicious and healthy delight of Okpa.
Oto(water-yam dumpling): the cooking process of this Igbo food is similar to that of yam porridge; only that water-yam is used and it is first plainly cooked, then grated before added to the boiling, ingredient-filled water. If you love porridge dish, then try this sumptuous food.
Akidi or fio-fio: you can’t have been to Nsukka in Enugu state and not hear about “fio-fio”(black beans). This uncommon but delicious Igbo food will leave you feeling glad that it exists.
Ofe onugbu(bitter leaf soup): don’t let the name turn you off, this Igbo food is not bitter at all. Bitter leaves are used to prepare the soup but they are first boiled separately and sieved to remove the bitterness before being used. Bitter leaf soup cannot be complete without cocoyam; this is the main ingredient for the soup. Taste this soup when hot and all your doubts about its taste will melt away.
Ofe Upo: dried okra is the major ingredient for this light soup, this Igbo food is usually made to be light and watery but definitely not tasteless. For indigenes of Ebonyi state, it is a requirement for new mothers; you are placed on this diet as soon as you return from the hospital. The soup is believed to have cleansing properties suitable for new mothers, as it contains the medicinal “uda”. I am yet to be a mother but I’ve tasted this soup and I testify to you that the “uda-saturated” soup will spice up your life.
Ora(oha) soup: just as ofe onugbu earned its name on the basis of the leaves used, the oha leaves used in making this soup is what gave the soup its name. This soup is dearly loved by the Igbos as is Ewedu to the Yorubas. Don’t dull your tongue, taste it all: ewedu, edikaikong, oha etc. Variety is the spice of life.
Ayaraya ji: if you love yam and beans cooked together then you will definitely love ayaraya ji. It is simply cowpea and mashed yams with onions and ugba topping; I love this food to the extent that I never want to meet any one in the room when I buy it, back then in school. The delicious taste of thisIgbo food makes me selfish like that.
Cassava and coconut: sliced cassava, boiled and eaten with coconut. Nothing much to say, it is simply a yummy experience.
Oka na Ube(corn and pear): this is an interesting combo that seasoned Igbos know well never to put asunder. The golden colour of roasted oka and the purple colour of ube spells royalty; your taste buds will definitely salute this combo.
Do not hesitate to take your taste buds on a delicious adventure with the above listed foods peculiar to the Igbo culture.