Abak Atama Soup

Abak Atama Soup Recipe


Abak Atama Soup is a delicious soup popular among the Ibibios of Akwa Ibom State, Southern Nigeria. Its name comes from the two best things: the word (Abak) and the Atama leaves. The palm oil used to prepare Abak Atama is similar to the original Bangga soup of the Niger Delta and the Ofe Akwu soup of the Igbo people, but the difference is the spices and vegetables used for these soups and stews.

The palm oil used to cook Abak Atama soup is very different from the red palm oil used in Nigerian cooking. Palm oil is a pure oil extracted from the pulp of the palm fruit, while Abak Atama soup is extracted from the palm at a low temperature and is a mixture of oil and water. Palm oil extracted for Abak Atama soup contains more saturated fat than palm oil.



 4serving (s)

Total time:  30 minutes 


Ingredients for Abak Atama Soup

  • 500g of palm fruit or 400g tinned of palm fruit concentrate.
  • Assorted meat and fish, you can use:

     Beef or goat
    Cow skin (ponmo)

  • Smoked  fish
  • Dry fish
  • Stock fish
  • 1 handful thinly sliced Atama leaves
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons ground crayfish
  • 2 milk cups unshelled periwinkles
  •  Habanero pepper (Atarodo, ose oyibo, atarugu: to taste)
  • 2 small stock cubes
  •  Salt (to taste)

Notes on the ingredients

  • In Nigeria, we have the seeds of "agric" and indigenous palm fruit. "Agric" palm fruit  have more flesh and can extract more oil and extract while the native palm comes in smaller but give your stews and soups a nice flavor. It is best to combine the two when possible. 
  • Atama leaves (English name unknown) give the soup its unique aroma. Just ask atama in the Nigerian market where the soup ingredient is sold. The leaves dry quickly, so if fresh ones are not available, you can use dried ones. 
  • New Atama leaves have a bitter taste. Please note, unshelled periwinkles are used for this recipe.
  • Fresh fish (preferably fresh) also goes well with this soup, so you can use it instead of dried fish.

 Before cooking Abak Atama soup

  • Extract palm kernels and palm fruit concentrate for the palm fruit. If you are using a can of palm fruit. open the can and set aside.
  • Cut the onion, mix the fresh pepper, wash and cut the ponmo into small pieces and set aside.
  • Add, drain and clean dry fish. Debone and clean the smoked fish. Wash in cold water making sure they are free of sand. Then break them into the desired pieces and set aside.
  • Use the rounded edge of a knife to cut off the pointed end of the periwinkle shell. This is called  trimming the periwinkle. This can be done for you in the Nigerian market. Wash them thoroughly to remove all sand. Wash several times until the water runs out.
  • Put the periwinkles in a bowl, cover it with water and cook with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes, drain the water and keep the periwinkles. When cooking periwinkles, do not cover the pot or it will overflow.
  • Wash the atama leaves well and cut them into thin slices as we cut the afang leaves. Dealers can sell you the Atama in the Nigerian market. If you want to reduce the bitterness, fold and rub the leaves between your palm and finger while washing the slice  leave just like washing bitter leaves.. Change the water several times. Dried leaves are not as bitter as fresh Atama leaves, some of the bitterness is lost during the drying process.
  •  Clean all the meat thoroughly. 

Cooking Directions


  • Put the beef or goat pieces, the ponmo pieces and the fish plate into the pot. Add as little water as possible, add onion (diced) and stock cubes and cover and cook until soft. Add dry fish and/or boneless smoked fish as soon as it is almost cooked.
  • Pour the extracted palm fruit into another pot, put the pot on fire and start cooking on high flame. Let it cook until you see a little red oil on the surface of the palm. If you think it's watery, cook until the extracts has thickened to a medium consistency.
  • Add meat and fish cooked with the meat stock, crayfish and pepper, precooked periwinkles the atama leaf and salt to taste, stir gently and leave to simmer for five minutes.
NB: Don't worry if the soup seems light. Abak Atama soup thicken the next day. It can also get too salty in an instant, so add less salt.
Serve with any Nigerian swallow of your choice: semolina, pounded walnuts and many mor

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