Achicha, dry cocoyam
Achicha, dry cocoyam is pre cooked, sun dried cocoyam and it lends its name to the vegetarian dish made with it. Achicha is not only delicious and filling but low in calories. It is peculiar to the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria.
I became familiar with achicha, dry cocoyam not too long ago. It is one of those ingredients that I always looked at with curiosity but never had the courage to try. On this particular day, I wanted something different and also in line with my love for the principle of “eat local, eat healthy”. Then there’s a friend of mine, who is a vegetarian, was complaining that since he relocated to Nigeria, his menu has been pretty empty. So I needed to come up with enough vegetarian dishes to add variety and nutrition to his diet.
Achicha, dry cocoyam can be cooked in combination with beans, fiofio (pigeon pea), black beans (akidi oji) etc. Black beans (akidi oji) on it’s own, is a nutritional powerhouse. You can add green leafy vegetables to it, for example, green amaranth and scent leaf (nchuanwu, effirin).
Dry fish is also an optional ingredient. If using dry fish, wash and de-bone the fish, then place it in the achicha parcel to cook and add flavour to the achicha.
When you eat Achicha, you will thank the people of Enugu State for this dish.
To prepare Achicha, dry cocoyam:
1 cup Akidi or fiofio 1 cup Achicha 10 cups water 1 cup palm oil 1 large onions, 1 cup sliced 3 scotch bonnet (fresh pepper) 2 seasoning cubes 1 cup ugba (ukpaka, shredded oil bean seed) salt
Pick out any stones and grit from the akidi (black beans).
Soak in water for 2 hours.
Drain and place akidi with 6 cups of water in a pot, place over high heat.
Cover the pot but keep slightly open to avoid it boiling over.
Keep adding more water as needed, till akidi is soft, about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, coarsely pound the achicha, just to break it up a bit.
Wash about two or more times in water and soak in enough clean water to cover it.
Let to soak for one hour.
Drain achicha from the soaking water. Squeeze out as much water as you can.
Place in aluminium foil or plastic wrap and wrap tightly.
Drop the parcel into the softened and boiling akidi.
Cook for 30 minutes and take off the heat.
Drain both from the water. Reserve about 2-4 tablespoons of the cooking liquid.
Slice onions, and chop the pepper.
In a clean sauce pan or pot, heat palm oil but do not bleach.
Add sliced onions, pepper, seasoning cubes and ugba, stir and taste. Add salt.
Stir fry for about one minute.
Add akidi and achicha and the reserved cooking water.
Stir and simmer for about 2 minutes.
Take off the heat and serve.
Achicha can be served with Okazi (ukazi, afang) salad, steamed green amaranth, or steamed ugu.
- How small you pound achicha, dry cocoyam is a matter of preference.
- Soaking the (black beans) akidi oji is optional. It is supposed to cut down the cooking time and remove some of the antinutrients found in legumes.
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