“The best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” is a popular African proverb, and who would disagree with that? After a hard day’s exertions, the taste of a delightful meal can be very refreshing indeed. Within the hundreds of tribes in Nigeria are healthy foods peculiar to each region, and many of these are very enjoyable. In this article, we will highlight the healthy delicacies of Imo and Anambra States in South-east Nigeria.
Imo and Anambra States were the two states carved out of the old East Central State in 1976 by Gen. Murtala Mohammed. Later, Enugu, Abia and Ebonyi States were also carved out of these two states. Although this article is about Imo & Anambra States, the healthy foods described here is synonymous with the Igbos in general.
There are many dishes that are common to the Igbo people of South-east Nigeria. The core of Igbo food is its soups, and the popular ones are Oha, Onugbu, and Nsala. In addition, yam is a staple food for the Igbos and is eaten either roasted, boiled or pounded and eaten with different soups. Let us review some of these delicacies from Igboland that will tease your appetite and leave you wanting more.
Abacha (Grated Cassava Dish)
Abacha is made from cassava. The cassava tubers are cooked till done, and then sliced with a special grater. After slicing the cassava, it is then soaked in cold water overnight, washed thoroughly and dried under the sun. The dried cassava slices can either be eaten plain with coconuts or prepared with other ingredients. Abacha can be eaten as a snack or a full meal served with dry fish or ponmo (cow skin).
Isi Ewu (Goat Head Meal)
Isi ewu is a traditional Igbo dish that is made with goat’s head. Although it is similar to Nkwobi, it is actually very different. While Nkwobi is made from cow foot, Isi ewu is made from goat head. Isi ewu has more flavour because of the addition of the fatty brain of the goat.
Ofe Onugbu (Bitter-leaf Soup)
Ofe Onugbu is so-named because the leaves used in making the soup are popularly known as “bitter leaf”. This soup is a vegetable soup, and the most popular soup among the Igbos. It’s best eaten with fufu, pounded yam and garri. It has been ranked among the top 10 popular soups in Nigeria by many food review sites.
Ofe Nsala (White Soup)
Ofe Nsala is known as “white soup” because it is not prepared with palm, compared with most Nigerian soups. It is rich in protein, vitamins C, E, potassium, and Omega-3 fatty acid. It’s one of the quickest and easiest Igbo soup to prepare, making it the choice soup for special guests.
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Ukwa is a traditional meal that is commonly eaten by Igbo people. In English, it is known as African breadfruit. Ukwa can be made into a porridge delicacy or it can be fried and eaten with palm kernel or coconut. According to webmd, Ukwa is said to lower blood pressure by decreasing heart rate and weakening the force of heart muscle contractions.
Yam Meals (Roasted or Boiled)
African yam is a cornerstone of the Igbo culture, as well as a symbol of masculinity, power, and wealth. It is a crucial staple food in the Igbo diet, often eaten roasted, boiled or pounded. The number of yams a man successfully grows indicates his wealth and rank within the society.
As we have seen, the healthy delicacies of Imo and Anambra States in south-east Nigeria are very appetizing! There are indeed other delightful meals synonymous with the Igbo people not included in this article. Nkwobi, Oha Soup, Achara Soup, Ugba, and Okpa are some of those not mentioned here.
Have you ever enjoyed any of these healthy delicacies from Imo and Anambra States & the Igbos in general? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.