This is an oil-less soup native to the Efik people of Nigeria. It is similar to Ofe Nsala which is native to the Igbo people. The difference in spices used in cooking sets it apart from Nsala. While it’s not white in the true sense of the word, the name alludes to the fact that it isn’t cooked with palm oil, and yam is used as the thickener.
Uyayak (Aidan Fruit pod, tetrapleura tetraptera) is integral to the cooking and for the flavor of Afia Efere. That’s a key ingredient that differentiates it from Nsala. Uyayak (Aridan, Oshosho, Osakirisa, Ubukirihu) has a beautiful flavor and aroma, slightly sweet and fragrant.
Afia Efere, can be made with any meats or fish, but I find goat meat to be the more robust in flavor. Unlike Nsala whose thickeners can either be yam, cocoyam, achi, ofor, etc… yam is almost strictly the only thickener used for Afia Efere. Efik food purists find it sacrilegious to use onions in cooking Efik soups and Afia Efere isn’t exempt. So keep the onions away if you don’t want them to invoke the ancestors
Now let’s cook some Afia Efere. I usually eyeball this recipe when I cook, so there are no precise measurements. So please cook with your heart.
- Meats of choice (either goat meat, beef, chicken)
- Smoked Catfish
- Crayfish powder
- Yellow Cameroon pepper (fresh or powdered)
- *Seasoning cubes
- *Deshelled Ehuru (calabash nutmeg)
- *Uda (grains of Selim, negro pepper)
* Asterisked items are optional
- Toast the Uyayak lightly in pan activate the oils and flavors. If using Ehuru and Uda toast them too. Don’t use a lot of Uda too much can make your soup bitter. I won’t recommend more than two.
- Put your meat in a pot, with Uyayak, smoked fish, salt, seasoning cubes, Cameroon pepper, *uda and Ehuru, water. Cook till meats are well cooked
- While the meats are cooking boil one or two slices of yam in water without salt. Once cooked pound till smooth or use a food processor to get it to pounded yam consistency. Set it aside
- Once the meats are cooked, add more water, scoop small lumps of the pounded yam into the meat and broth, adjust the seasonings accordingly, add crayfish powder and allow to cook with lid on till the yam paste dissolves. If the consistency is too thick loosen it up with water, if it is too loose, add some more paste and cook with lid off to allow water to evaporate.
- Once cooked turn heat off and serve with your favorite accompaniment
Afia Efere pairs well with pounded yam.