The Makings Of Egusi


May 21, 2019

Who owns Egusi? This was the first question I tried to answer when I started writing the article. I did some digging and ended up down a rabbit hole of hundred and one egos recipes from different parts of the country. Turns out Egusi is just as diverse as Nigerians. 

I decided that who owns Egusi isn’t really important. What’s really interesting is the different ways people from different parts of the country own Egusi. I talked to 6 people from different parts of Nigeria about how they make their Egusi and got 6 diverse recipes for you foodies to explore the next time you are in the kitchen. 

Tomatoes over palm oil because fit fam.

I don’t think it’s as popular but I boil my Egusi instead of frying it. I also use tomatoes instead of palm oil because fit fam. But instead of just dumping my Egusi in a pot of boiling tomatoes, I boil it until it’s very dry. Then I fry my tomato sauce with very little olive oil, instead of vegetable or palm oil. Then I put as many vegetables as I can lie my hands on.

Nora, Imo State

Not Egusi without lumps.

I don’t know how to eat any Egusi that’s not the lumpy kind. That’s why I only ever eat either Egusi I cook myself, or the one my mum cooks. Also has to be very dry. The tricky thing about making lumpy Egusi for those who don’t really know how to is that sometimes, some of the lumps end up not being cooked. What I do is after making my Egusi into a nice, thick paste I fry it in balls, the same way you’d fry Akara, just not as long as you’d fry Akara for.

Ada, Anambra State

White Egusi for the win.

I didn’t even know people call it White Egusi, but for me it’s Ijebu Egusi and the only way anyone should make Egusi. It’s made with just the melon seeds and without the vegetable. It’s also not as dry as many people make their Egusi. Eat with Eba and flourish.

Tiwalade, Ogun State

Bitterleaf is key.

I use just bitter leaf in my Egusi. I don’t bother putting any other type of vegetable. I also like it very dry. When you use just bitter leaf that has been washed properly then there is nothing else to distract you from the distinct taste the melon seeds have. If you want to jazz it up a little you can add some periwinkle.

Ivie, Edo State

No palm oil here.

I’m from Delta, so I already eat way too many things that involve frying and/or palm oil over here. For goodness sake, Starch and Owo is made up of 90% palm oil. And you can’t get away with making either one of them without palm oil. But with Egusi I can, so I use just tomatoes. I start off like I’m making regular stew. When my ‘stew’ is done. I add my Egusi and stir it constantly until it’s cooked. Then I add all the mede mede I want to add. Dry fish and stockfish must always be present.

Priscilla, Delta State

Plain old Elefo Elegusi.

I really like Egusi so trust me when I say I’ve tried out every kind of Egusi variation there is out there. From the white one to the one with just tomatoes and plain old Elefo Elegusi is still the best. I don’t really experiment with it. I do the usual. Start with a palm oil base, add in my Egusi paste and the smallest hint of a tomato paste I’d already prepared.

Ganiyat, Lagos State

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