Abak Atama

Abak Atama

Abak Atama is the version of palm nut soup, indigenous to the Efik and Ibibio people of south-south of Nigeria. It is also called Efere Abak Atama. Efere means soup, Abak means palm nut, Atama is the vegetable used to cooking the soup.

The Delta people have Banga soup, the Igbos have Ofe Akwu. Fresh Palm nut is called Akwu in Igbo, Abak by the Efik and Ibibio, Banga by the Deltans.

The variations in the soups come from the different spices and vegetables used to create each version of the soup. Abak Atama with Atama leaves and the very aromatic uyayak (Aidan fruit) pod. Ofe Akwu delicately balances Ugwu and Nchanwu (Efinrin) leaves. Banga is cooked in a blend of aromatic spices as well, dried crushed bitter leaf or obeletientien leaves, and the very aromatic oburunbebe stick.

Abak Atama can be cooked with meats or fish, for this post I’ve used fresh fish.


  • 2½ cups Palm nut cream
  • 1 tbsp crayfish powder
  • 1 medium sized Uyayak pod
  • 1 tbsp of fresh ground pepper
  • 1 smoked fish
  • Stockfish flakes
  • Dried Atama leaves (a fist full)
  • 1½ kg fresh fish
  • 1 cup Periwinkle (washed unshelled)
  • ½ kg Fresh Prawns
  • Salt to taste
  • Seasoning cubes (optional)

You use canned Palm nut cream or make your palm nut cream from fresh palm nuts. See how-to here .

Cleaning Periwinkle.

If you buy your periwinkle in an open market, it would most likely be very sandy.
So wash it in a bowl under running water, till the water is clear. And you no longer have sand or debris settling at the bottom.
Using a blunt part of your knife, the back, break the bottom of the periwinkle.

Break just below the middle. Wash again in water and salt to remove leftover debris and sand. Let it strain in a sieve.


  • Pour palm nut cream into a clean pot. Divide uyayak pods into small parts and add them to the pot. Add pepper, crayfish powder, stockfish, shredded smoked fish, if you using seasoning cubes add it. And bring it to a boil.
  • While it cooks rinse your dried Atama leaves and set aside.
  • Let it cook and start to realise its oil, then add fresh fish.
  • Once the fish is cooked, add periwinkle, fresh prawns, and atama leaves.
  • Simmer for 5 – 10 mins to cook the prawns through.
  • The consistency of the soup should not be runny and not too thick, the consistency should coat the back of a spoon lightly.

Serve with your favourite accompaniment.

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