Time to get all traditional with one of my favourite Nigerian meals - iyan and egusi soup. It's also a staple dish from my home town (Ilesa).
Iyan is the Yoruba name for pounded yam. The yam is boiled and then pounded to thick, smooth, dough-like consistency. Unless you have a giant mortar and pestle lying around, along with incredible upper body strength, then a food processor will do. You can find pounded yam flour in most African food stores, but why use that when you can make it fresh yourself? It takes a bit longer, but tastes a whole lot better.
Egusi is a thick soup made with leafy green veg, ground egusi (melon) seeds, tomato, pepper and onions. My vegan version is probably also a lazy version. No need to spend forever in the kitchen to make this tasty dish!
- 1/2 yam cut into chunks
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 cup ground egusi
- 5-6 cups chopped spinach
- 1 red onion
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp palm oil
- Salt to taste
To make the iyan, boil the yam in some salted water until soft. Place in a food processor and blend with a little water to form a thick, smooth consistency. Scoop into a bowl, ready to be served with the egusi soup.
To make the egusi soup, start by blending the peppers, tomatoes and onion with a little water. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the blended mixture. Season with salt and the stock cube. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the chopped spinach next and sprinkle the ground egusi over the top of the spinach. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes. The egusi should cake a little.
Give it a good mix and cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes.
Serve hot with some pounded yam. A winning combination.