Quick , easy and healthier Egusi soup, made with lots of spinach.
One of my first post entries is about egusi soup- a true West African Classic- widely enjoyed in West African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Cameroon just to name a few with slight to difference in preparation from country to country and even between villages.
Technically speaking, it is not a soup- I believe we(Africans) have become so complacent or some would say lazy that every sauce or stew is named soup.
One thing that is certain though, this exotic sauce is a POWERHOUSE! -Its nutritional benefits may lure you in but the taste will keep you coming back for more.
The other day, you should have seen my excitement when I stumbled upon egusi at an Indian market under the name –charmagaz. I would have sworn these melon seeds are only consumed it Africa. Now I know where to find some when the craving hits and don’t want to make a long drive to an African market.
Egusi stew is not so well known by Westerners- unlike our other famous peanut stew or tomato stew. This could be attributed to the star ingredient –Egusi, not readily available and somewhat pricy but once you taste it you fall in love with it
Egusi is a wild member of the gourd family, with very dry skin and bitter flesh. It looks the same as watermelon seeds but taste quite differently. They are extremely nutritious- high in protein and oil. They are often use in West Africa as thickening agent in soups, and add depth to most meals.
In Cameroon, it is sometimes use to make Egusi pudding; a highly addictive pudding featured here. If you are looking for a recipe with lumps look here. Use smoked fish or any kind of meat to heart’s desire.
You can purchase these seeds in African Markets, Indian markets or online, but if you are in West Africa, they are available in most markets. Store it in the refrigerator and it will stay fresh for more than a year.
- 1-pound meat (smoked turkey or beef or combination of both)
- 1/ 2 medium onion chopped
- 2 -3 medium tomatoes chopped
- ½ cup canola or any cooking oil
- 3 garlic cloves- (2 teaspoons minced garlic)
- 1-cup ground egusi
- ⅓ cup ground or smashed crayfish
- 2-3 cups or more spinach (I used frozen spinach)
- In medium –sized saucepan boil beef seasoned with salt (garlic salt), smoked paprika, pepper, and onions until tender - make sure you have added plenty of water so you have about 3-4 cups of beef stock to use for cooking. Remove the beef and reserve the stock.
- Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions. Sauté the onion until it is translucent, about 5 minutes.Add beef , smoked turkey, crayfish and continue with cooking
- Stir in the tomatoes with it’s juices and garlic. Add 1-2 cups of beef stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for another 5 minutes
- Then add ground egusi and keep simmering on medium-heat approximately 10 minutes. Add beef stock to desired consistency or when simmering to prevent any burns
- Finally , throw in the spinach; let it simmer for about 4-5 minutes. Adjust seasonings
- Serve warm with plantains, eba, yams or accompaniment of choice.