Abak Atama Soup

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Abak Atama Soup is a favorite soup among the Ibibios of Akwa Ibom State in Southern Nigeria.

The base palm fruit concentrate used in the preparation of Abak Atama is similar to the Niger Delta’s Banga soup and the Igbos’ ofe akwu, but the spices and vegetables used in each of these soups and stews differ.

What Is Atama Leaf?

Atama is a kind of plant, its leaves can be found in the yards of many Nigerians. The botanical name for atama leaves is ‘heinsia crinita,’ which many locals refer them as ‘bush apples.’

The leaf is popularly used in making Abak Atama, a soup commonly eaten in the Akwa Ibom and Cross River states of Nigeria. This vegetable is only eaten in this part of Nigeria. Atama leaves are usually shredded very thinly just like you will do for Afang or Ukazi/ Okazi.

Is Atama Leaf Bitter?

Fresh atama leaves have a bitter taste.

What Is The Health Benefit Of Atama Leaf?

Atama leaf is rich in iron and very beneficial in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia. It helps to boost red blood cell production and this leaf also helps promote wound healing.

How Do You Preserve Atama Leaf?

Atama leaves preserve well as dried leaves and can be used in Abak soup even when completely dried. You shred the vegetable and cold dry it in an air-conditioned room for a couple of hours to maintain the green color.

What Is Abak Atama Soup Made Of?

It’s made from palm fruit juice (akwu/banga) and atama leaves. This dish has a wonderful flavor and aroma, and it may be created from a variety of vegetables, waterleaf, and even palm fruit extract.

the name of the soup is derived from both the sauce and the vegetable you add, so naturally there many types of Abak.

One thing I can promise with Abak Atama soup  is that you can hardly go wrong with the end result. If you happen to end up with some palm fruit sauce that will not thicken easily,just sprinkle some Egusi in it. Bingo, your soup gets thick.If you are on a weight reduction diet you don’t want to make this a daily meal.

You can experiment with different ingredients to make this soup unique every day.

Notes On Abak Atama Soup Ingredients

  1. In Nigeria, we have the “Agric” and native palm fruit. The “Agric” palm fruit has more flesh and can yield more oil and extract while the native palm fruit comes in smaller sizes but gives your stews and soups a more delicious flavor. It is best to combine both where possible.
  2. Atama leaves give the soup its unique aroma as well as taste. Just ask for atama in Nigerian markets where soups ingredients are sold. The leaves dry up easily so where the fresh ones are not available you can use the dry ones. Fresh atama leaves have a bitter taste.
  3. Please note that unshelled periwinkles are used for this recipe.
  4. Fresh fish (fresh catfish) also goes very well with this soup so you can use it instead of dry catfish.

Our Abak Atama Soup Can Be Served With:


Abak Atama Soup

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes


  • Assorted meat and fish. You can use: Beef or Goat Meat, Cow Skin (ponmo)Smoked fish, Dry fish, Stockfish
  • 500g Palm Fruits or 400g tinned Palm Fruit Concentrate
  • 1 handful atama leaves thinly sliced
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp ground crayfish
  • 2 milk cups unshelled periwinkles
  • Habanero pepper (Atarodo, ose oyibo, atarugu: to taste)
  • 2 small stock cubes
  • Salt (to taste)


Before Cooking

  • Extract the palm fruit concentrate from the palm fruits. If using the tinned palm fruit concentrate, open the tin and set it aside.
  • Dice the onion, blend the fresh Pepper and wash and cut the ponmo into small pieces and set aside.
  • Soak, debone and clean the dry fish. Debone and clean the smoked fish. Rinse in cold water making sure they are free from sand. Then break them up into desired pieces and set them aside.
  • Cut the pointed ends of the shells of the periwinkles with the blunt side of a machete. This is known as trimming the periwinkles. This can be done for you in Nigerian markets. Wash them thoroughly to remove all sand. Wash several times till the water runs clear.
  • Place the periwinkles in a pot, cover with water and boil with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes, drain off the water, and set the periwinkles aside. While boiling the periwinkles, do not cover the pot else it boils over.
  • Wash the atama leaves thoroughly and cut them into thin slices. Atama can be sliced for you by sellers in Nigerian markets.
  • If you wish to reduce the bitterness, squeeze and rub the leaves between your palms and fingers while washing the sliced leaves just like washing bitter leaves. Change the water a couple of times. The dry leaves are not as bitter as the fresh atama leaves, some of the bitterness is lost during the drying process.
  • Clean all meats thoroughly.


  • Place the pieces of beef or goat meat, pieces of ponmo, and stockfish in a pot.
  • Add as little water as possible, add the onion (diced) and the stock cubes then cover and cook till tender.
  • Add the deboned dry fish and/or smoked fish when almost done.
  • Pour the extracted palm fruit concentrate into another pot, set the pot on the stove, and start cooking on high heat.
  • Leave to boil till you notice come red oil at the top of the palm fruit extract.
  • If you think that it is watery, cook till the extract has thickened to a medium consistency.
  • Add the cooked meat and fish with the meat stock, crayfish, and pepper, the precooked periwinkles, the atama leaves, and salt to taste.
  • Stir gently and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.

For Tinned Palm Fruit Concentrate

  • When the beef and fish are well done, add the palm fruit concentrate, stir and add water if necessary to get the consistency you like for your soups.
  • Leave to boil.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients (continue from step 3 above).NB: Do not worry if the soup appears light. Abak Atama Soup tends to thicken by the next day. It can also easily become saltier overnight so please add salt sparingly.


NB: Do not worry if the soup appears light. Abak Atama Soup has a tendency to thicken by the next day. It can also easily become more salty overnight so please add salt sparingly.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Let me know in the comments below if you have any comments, questions or suggestions about this Abak Atama soup recipe.

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