The Nigerian Egusi soup, prepared with melon seeds, is prepared by most tribes in Nigeria in many different ways. It is known as Miyan Gushi in Hausa, Ofe Egusi in Igbo and Efo Elegusi in Yoruba.
Egusi soup is also one of the most popular soups, if not the most popular for all Nigerians and non-Nigerians that like Nigerian fufu recipes.
The recipe detailed on this page is what I call the Caking Method of cooking Egusi Soup (the Egusi Before Oil method).
Other methods are:
Fried Egusi Soup: where the Egusi is fried in palm oil before other ingredients are added. I also call this one the Oil Before Egusi Method.
Akpuruakpu Egusi: where the ground Egusi is moulded into balls and cooked in the soup such that you will be eating the Egusi balls like meat while enjoying the meal. The surrounding Egusi in the soup is prepared using the caking method. Go check it out.
600g Egusi (Melon) seeds
2 cooking spoons red palm oil
Beef: Best cut and Shaki (cow tripe)
Fish: Dry Fish and Stock Fish
3 tablespoons ground crayfish
Pepper and Salt (to taste)
Vegetable: Nigerian pumpkin leaves, spinach or bitter leaves
3 small stock cubes
1 Ogiri Okpei (traditional locust bean seasoning: optional)
Before preparing the soup, soak the dry fish for about half an hour. If you are using the very tough stock fish, boil it for 20 minutes and leave in the pot with the hot water to soak for about an hour. If using the softer stock fish, you can just soak them in cool water till you can break them apart with your hands. When the fish and stock fish are soft, debone and break them into sizeable chunks. Much closer to your cooking time, grind the Egusi with a dry mill. Grind the crayfish and the dry pepper separately and set aside. Wash the vegetable to be used. Cut into tiny pieces. Boil the shaki, stock fish and dry fish in 1 litre of water with the stock cubes till they are well done. First sign of a done shaki is that the cuts will start curling on itself. Wash the beef to be used for the soup, add it to the pot and cook on medium heat till done.
This method produces a healthier Egusi soup as there is no frying involved. It requires less oil too.
In this method, as soon as the shaki, fish and meat are done, remove them from the stock (water used in cooking the meat and fish) and place in a different pot or plate. Add the ground Egusi to the stock and stir. If the stock from cooking your meat and fish is not enough to give you a medium consistency, add some water to get the consistency of evaporated milk or a bit thicker. It will not be as smooth as evaporated milk though. Cover and cook till the Egusi cakes. Stir and add a little bit more water. Watch it closely so that it does not burn. Repeat step 3, adding only a small quantity of water at a time. After about 25 minutes, you will notice the clear Egusi oil coming to the surface of the soup. Add the red palm oil and bitter leaves (if it is your choice of vegetable), pepper and salt to taste and cook for about 7 minutes. You know it is good to continue when the palm oil and Egusi forms a good blend of light yellow colour. Add the cooked meat and fish. If using pumpkin leaves or any other soft vegetable, add it at this time and stir the soup. Add salt to your taste, stir and leave to simmer for 2 minutes maximum. Turn off the heat. Leave to stand for about 5 minutes before serving.
The Egusi soup is ready to be served with Garri (Eba), Semolina Fufu, Amala, Cassava Fufu or Pounded Yam.