Ibaba Soup: How to Cook Ofe Ukpo or Abachi

Ibaba soup is a superb delicacy that is mainly cooked by the Efiks, Ibibios and also the Igbo tribe in Nigeria. It is not that common in the eastern part of Nigeria.

”Efere Ibaba” “Efere” in Efik/Ibibio means soup and Ibaba is the seed from the Ibaba plant

The botanical name of this seed is mucuna urens. On research, the English name of ukpo or abachi seed is known as Hamburger seed/bean, Mucuna Bean, Deer-eye, Donkey-eye, Ox-eye.

An Ibaba seed is called ukpo or abachi by the Igbos. Orumba/Aguata local government people of Anambra state call it ibaa while some parts of Anambra State know the seed as oruru. Some Yoruba’s also call the ibaba seed ipe,

Ibaba seed is similar to ogbono seeds, open the hard, woody exocarp and the edible dicotyledous endocarp will be revealed.

It is a black round looking thickener that must be cooked and ground into powder before being used to prepare a homemade delicacy that can be enjoyed with any swallow.

It’s very hard and takes time to cook; you must break it open, cook the whitish seed within, blend or pound it before you can use it to cook your soup.

To achieve an additional flavor and taste, different vegetables like etinkirin leaves / uziza, oha, ugu, curry leaf or even ukazi are extra addition to this soup to make it totally delicious.

Fun Facts about Ibaba Soup

  • It gets hot when rubbed on the wall. Kids like playing with it because they chase each other after rubbing it on the wall.
  • The soup changes color to black easily and can go bad if not well cooked or warmed after taking from it.
  • You can use it as a soup thickener like achi, although it is sweeter than Achi.

Ibaba Soup Recipe

½ kg medley of meats (beef, oxtail, tripe, ponmo, bokoto and bush meat)
2 snails (washed with lemon)
225 g stock fish
225 g  dry fish
50 g   ground ibaba seeds.

½ medium onion

225 g shredded etinkirin /uziza leaves
100 ml of palm oil
112 g   ground crayfish
112 g of ground pepper
salt to taste

Cooking Instructions

  1. Firstly, wash the meat carefully and place in a sizable pot. Add some ground chillies, sliced onions and seasonings.
  2. Secondly, place on the heat and cook for 40-50 minutes till it becomes soft. Then, wash the smoked dry fish with salt and soak in boiling water or 7-10 minutes to loosen any sand or grit
  3. Thirdly, rinse completely with lots of water. Then, add the stock fish, dry fish, and snails to the pot of meat and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. After that, add the rest of the stock, bring to the boil, then add the oil and ground ibaba seeds. Lastly, stir very well to slightly thicken the sauce.
  5. Lastly, add the shredded etinkirin leaves and crayfish. Leave to simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  6. Above all, if it is too thick, adjust the consistency by adding more stock as required. It should lightly coat the back of a spoon.
  7. Serve with any swallow of choice – Amala, Elubo, Pounded yam, Fufu (akpu), Eba (Garri) or Tuwo Shinkafa .
Nigerian Ibaba Soup
Nigerian Ibaba Soup


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