Deep Into the Surface: Nigerian Cuisine

This week the WUD Publications Committee is hosting events that are showcasing the diversity and intersectionality of Africa. The Dish is preparing two Nigerian classics: Egusi soup and Eba

Egusi Soup: A true West African classic. It is specifically enjoyed in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Cameroon. This recipe varies in preparation and ingredients from country to country and even between villages, giving you the opportunity to stick to the classics or add your own twist. The most standard components of Egusi soup are leaf vegetables like spinach, oil, vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers, and your meat of choice (most commonly used are beef, goat, shrimp, and crayfish).

What is Egusi? It is the protein-rich seed that can be found in squash, melons, and gourds. It is typically dried and ground and popularly used in West African cuisine. It is used in Egusi soup as a thickening agent and provides a wonderful nutty flavor that pairs well with the richness of the tomatoes and meat. In Nigerian cuisine Egusi soup is typically paired with pounded yam or Eba, which is made from garri flour and hot water that combines into a firm dough to be dipped into the soup, and is what we’ll be making today.

Eba is made from fried & grated cassava flour, commonly referred to as Garri. Eba is a part of the “swallows” family, which is a term used to describe starchy foods cooked to a dense paste and eaten with soups. They are called swallows because you take a bit of the dough, roll it into a small ball, dip it into the soup, and swallow it! 

Go to our Instagram stories to see how both of these dishes are made!

Ingredients

For the soup:

  • ¾ cup pumpkin seeds (substitute for Egusi seeds) (I used about 1-11/2 cups of ground pumpkin seeds–if you want more of a stew-like consistency add more)
  • 1 ½ pounds cubed beef stew meat
  • ½ cup peanut oil (You can substitute any oil, I used avocado oil because that was all I had and it still turned out delicious!)
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 2 habanero peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 18 ounces tomato sauce 
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound fresh spinach, washed and chopped
  1. In a blender, grind up pumpkin seeds until a powdery mixture is formed. Set aside
  2. Place tomatoes, onions, and peppers in a blender until smooth
  3. Wash beef and cut into 1-inch, or bite size cubes. Season with salt. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes. Add beef and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until brown but NOT cooked through (it will finish cooking as we add the pepper mixture and sauce).
  4. Add the pepper mixture to the meat, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook for 40-45 minutes or until meat is tender.
  5. Add the tomato sauce, paste, water, and shrimp and simmer for 10 minutes. (If you’re using frozen shrimp, make sure it is completely thawed before adding to the pot)
  6. Add the spinach and pumpkin seeds and continue to cook for 10 minutes.
  7. (Optional) I let it sit in the pot (stove off) for a few hours before eating it and that extra time allowed the flavors to develop more! 

For the Eba: 

  • 4 cups of Garri
  • Hot water
  • Wooden spoon (preferred)
  1. Pour boiled water into a bowl
  2. Sprinkle the garri into the water and continue until it thickens. You can add more garri if it’s too soft or add more water if it’s too dense. 
  3. Let the garri expand in the water, then stir the mixture until a dough-like consistency is formed.
  4. Mold into small portions, and serve!

Check out our instagram stories for step-by-step instructions!

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