Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Vegan Egusi Recipe | How to Make Nigerian Egusi Soup


Whether you're eating it with pounded yam (classic!) or with rice, there's no denying the sheer deliciousness of egusi. It's efo riro's blinged out cousin with more texture, more nutrition and arguably more flavour.

Egusi seeds are often sold whole or ground. I usually like to buy it whole and grind it myself, but if you want to save on time then go ahead and buy it ground. The seeds are derived from a gourd plant that is indigenous to West Africa. Other countries that grow and use egusi include Ghana (where it is called agushi), Benin, Ivory Coast, Mali, Togo, Cameroon and Burkina Faso. It is made up of about 70% fat and 30% protein, and is packed with tons of nutrients and vitamins such as A, B1, B2, C and E - making it excellent for skin, hair and bone health. 

Notably, egusi soup is the most popular dish amongst the Ijesha people of Osun state (where my family is from!), where it is eaten alongside pounded yam. Egusi is eaten all the way across Nigeria though, amongst not only the Yoruba but Igbo, Hausa, Edo, Itsekiri, Ibibio and Efik people.

The ground seeds are added to soups as a thickening agent. Egusi soup or stew in particular is composed of leafy greens, palm oil, ground egusi and seasonings. The traditional recipe calls for meat to be added, but as this is a vegan version I have of course left this out. For anyone interested in having that meaty texture though, I recommend adding roasted mushrooms or diced aubergine (garden egg/eggplant). 

Now let's get to the recipe! As always, if you do try it, please share your food pics and tag me on Instagram :)


Ingredients
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper
- 1 red onion
- 2 tbsp palm oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup ground egusi
- 5-6 cups chopped spinach
- Chopped mixed vegetables or mushrooms (optional)


Start by blending the peppers, tomatoes and onion with a little water. Heat some palm oil in a large pot and add the blended mixture. Season with salt and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Stir in the vegetable stock and sprinkle the ground egusi over the top. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. The egusi should cake and form little air pockets.

Add the chopped spinach, give it a good mix and cook uncovered for a further 5 minutes. At this point you can add in some extra chopped vegetables or meat alternatives (such as mushrooms, aubergine etc).

Serve hot with some pounded yam, boiled yam, rice, boiled plantain or fried plantain. All winning combinations!

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