I just woke up from sleep today and some few thoughts began flowing into my mind while I was still lying down on my bed fully awake;and one of the things I thought of was how to get to the store to buy some things for breakfast and also, what exactly I was going to buy if I get to the store? While still pondering on these things, I began to look around my room to see if there was anything I could prepare as food, but I didn’t, except one tuber of yam which was given to me by someone so precious just a day ago.
I was like in my mind, should I make yam porridge or fry some yam chips with this yam? When I realised how big the yam was and since my appetite did not settle for any of those dishes, I decided to think of something different, and I came up with the idea of making Calabar with soup (Afia efere), which led to my going to the market rather than going to the store. When I got to the market, I was so fortunate to see some the condiments that I have not come across after a very long time; I became very joyous and decided to purchase them which led to the preparation of Calabar white soup.
Afia efere or Calabar white soup is one of those special soups that is peculiar among the efiks and Ibibios (Calabars) in Nigeria, Calabar white soup is traditionally cooked without palm oil, this is commonly prepared with the use goat meat or chicken and most time with beef, in which case the soup is termed “afia efere ebot” or “afia efere unen” respectively, depending on the type of meat it is prepared with. Fresh fish can also be used for making this soup. Afia efere is usually served with pounded yam. There is a similar soup prepared like afia efere, in this case it is prepared using edible cocoyam (white cocoyam soup) in place of yam and also by following the same process, I will rather explain this in my next post.
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Important tips to note while preparing Afia efere( Calabar white soup)
- If you are the type that loves viscous soup consistency, you can choose to add 2 pieces chopped okro to your white soup, but this is optional.
- Use meat broth, for instance the liquid you used in boiling your beef, got meat or chicken meat to cook this soup; it gives a full meat flavour.
- Aidanfruit (uyayak ) is one of those spicy seasoning normally added to Afia efere, it gives some kind of nutty favour to the soup. Uyayak should be removed from the soup after the soup is cooked, it is not to be eaten it is just a spice just like thyme sprig.
- Another spice that makes up Calabar white soup is the ehu seeds (local or calabash nutmeg); it produces a nice and earthy flavour in the soup while it cooks.
- Pounded yam is the best bolus for Afia efere. However, you can serve the soup with semolina, eba or fufu if you are unable to prepare pounded yam.
- Instead of using mortar and pestle to pound your yam, there is a pounded yam machine that can do the work faster without waste of time.
- For thickening of afia efere, pounded yam is the main thickener but you can use yam four.if you are able to get yam flour, you can use achi or corn flour, but note that the taste might slightly change.
- The leaves or vegetables should be add in just a little quantity not more than a cup or a handful, otherwise the soup would look or taste like vegetable soup.
- Do not add palm oil to the soup, if you do, it will change the taste and the colour of the soup
- Also the crayfish should not be too much; otherwise it will diminish the flavour of other ingredients in the soup.
- additionally, stockfish (cod)and snails can be added to afia efere; stockfish adds smoky taste to the soup too.
Ingredients for preparing Calabar white soup
- 1 kg of fresh goat meat, I used chicken
- 3 medium smoked fish
- 2 medium sized fresh okra, sliced (optional)
- 2 tablespoons ground crayfish
- One tuber of medium sized yam
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper or 3 scotch bonnet peppers
- 1 uyayak pod also known as tetrepleura or Aidan fruit
- 2 cups of chicken broth or clean water
- 3 pieces of Ehura-ehu or local nutmegs
- 1 cup of chopped odusa (uziza) leaves or fluted pumpkin (ugu, spinach or curry leaves)
- 3 chicken stock cubes to make it tasty.
- Salt to taste
Just before the preparation of Afia efere
- Peel your yam and cut into small pieces. Cook the yam till tender.
- While the yam is on heat, wash and cut the meat into even size or pieces, season with salt, pepper, onions, seasoning cubes and some nutmeg and boil for 20 minutes or until soft and tender. This can be carried out faster, assuming you have more than one source of heat, but if you have just one, you will have to wait for the yam get cooked before you cook the meat.
- Cut the periwinkles and wash severally till you notice the water becoming clean, then add salt to it and keep aside.
- Chop onion, grind the crayfish and the nutmeg in dry mill, and wash the uyayak and keep all aside.
- Debone the dried fish, chop the uziza leaves and keep aside too.
- Finally, check for the yam to see if it is well soften, if it; start pounding them in batches till you feel a smooth consistency (with no single lump).
- Cut a little part of the yam out, this would be used for thickening the white soup.
- Mould the remaining into a flask or cooler to keep it warm and soft.
Simple steps for making pounded yam
1. Depending on the quantity of pounded yam you want to make, Peel yam and cut into cubes and rinse into a medium pot.
2. Add water to slightly cover yams and do not season with salt. Place yam on heat to cook till very tender. this will take about 20-30 minutes.
3. Pierce yams with a fork to check if they are allsoft.
4. Remove yam from heat and drain the water out. Start pounding yam with a mortar and pestle and make sure that it is smoothandthere is no lump in the yam.
5. When you are done pounding all the yam, role into a ball and store in a warm flask, to keep it warm and soft until the soup is ready
6. Before storing the pounded yam, cut out a small quantity that you would using to thicken your white soup and keep aside.
Procedures for preparing Calabar white soup (Afia efere)
1. Bring an empty pot on heat, add cooked meat,the meat water, dried or smoked fish, uyayak and bring to a boil
2.Cut pounded yam into smallar chunks and add to the content and leave it to dissolve while bubbling into a soup bowl and serve with pounded yam.
3. As the content bubbles, add ground crayfish, pepper, salt, dried fish, nutmeg and seasoning cubes and leave it to simmer for 20 minutes for all the spice diffuse in the soup.
4. Add your chopped vegetables and stir the soup thoroughly to enable all the ingredients incorporate. Taste for for seasonings and adjust if need be. leave the to simmer for 5 minutes more for the flavour to keep coming out.
If you have other ways of making white soup, maybe different from this, please don’t hesitate to share in the comment box.
Dr. Brown is the founder of Jotscroll, he is a Medical Doctor, Entrepreneur, and author. Dr. Razi Brown holds a medical degree from the University of San Diego. He has invested in many startups and is currently working on his fifth book to be published in the upcoming year.