Week 3 of my Nigerian Nights series is here already! In this series, I am taking a culinary journey to Nigeria, my homeland and a country that holds a very special place in my heart for a variety of reasons. Nigeria is a case study in variety from it's variable landscape to its numerous languages, colorful culture and rich cuisine. One of the unique things about Nigerian cuisine is that it is fairly common to have a single dish which combines meat and seafood and the result is a rich, vibrant and delicious dish. This week I will be sharing the recipe for Egusi soup. Egusi soup is a soup made from Egusi seeds which can be obtained in an African grocery shop. Egusi can be substituted with pumpkin seeds. This dish is popular all over Nigeria and a staple in many homes. It is a particularly popular dish in my home city – Port Harcourt, located in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria close to the Atlantic Ocean. When I was growing up, Port Harcourt was referred to as the ‘Garden City’ because of its clean streets, numerous parks and gardens and lovely beaches. Over the years, it has become a bustling city and the Oil Capital of Nigeria
Egusi Soup (Pumpkin Seed Soup)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 65 minutes
Total time: 80 minutes
Ingredients (serves 4)
1.5 lbs/680 g beef, lamb, chicken or goat meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 tablespoons palm oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup dried crawfish or dried shrimp, ground
½ cup red onions, chopped
1 cup egusi or pumpkin seeds, ground
0.5 lbs/8 oz/227 g fresh shrimp
1 habanero pepper, chopped finely
1 beef/chicken stock cube or salt to taste
2 cups spinach or broccoli leaves or collard greens, chopped
Place the meat in a medium saucepan over low heat and add half the garlic (2 cloves) and onions (¼ cup). Cook covered, allowing the meat to simmer in its own juice for 15 minutes.
Add 2 cups of water and increase heat to medium, then cook the meat covered for 30 more minutes or until the meat is tender.
Place the palm oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and fry the remaining garlic (2 cloves) for 1 minute, then add the crawfish and fry for 2 minutes.
Add the remaining onions (¼ cup) and fry for 2 minutes, next add the ground pumpkin seeds and fry for 5 minutes.
Add the meat, shrimp, habanero pepper and beef/chicken stock cube or salt and 2 cups of water, then cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Next add the green vegetables (spinach or broccoli leaves or collard greens) and cook for another 2 minutes, then remove from heat.
Serving suggestions: Egusi soup is best served the traditional Nigerian way, with garri or pounded yam, which can be obtained from a Nigerian grocery store. It can also be served with semolina, boiled rice or grilled plantains, which can be obtained from your local grocery store
Tips: Egusi soup can also be made with fish instead of meat. If using fish, skip step 1 and 2, and add the fish in step 5. Olive oil can be used instead of palm oil for a healthier option. If using olive oil, add ¼ cup of tomato paste at step 4