Recipe courtesy of Gabi Odebode for Food Network Kitchen

Egusi Stew

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Popular in West African countries, egusi stew is made with egusi, or melon seeds, which have been ground and cooked in a tomato and/or bell pepper stew, depending on the country or tribe. I grew up knowing this dish as a "stew," but it can also be referred to as a "soup." Often the stew is finished with a type of leafy green vegetable. In Nigeria, uziza and spinach are used. Though I enjoy egusi stew with spinach, as my mother-in-law makes it, I have come to love it with collard greens even more. Egusi can be paired with pounded yam, fufu, eba (gari balls) or steamed white rice.
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 5 servings
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Ingredients

Directions

  1. Process the garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, onion and habanero, if using, in a blender or food processor for 30 seconds.
  2. Split the dried fish into quarters, remove or peel out the bones (using tweezers if necessary) and discard. Break into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
  3. Heat the palm oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the bell pepper mixture and stir to combine. Cover and let simmer until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the reserved dried fish, ground crayfish, iru, bouillon powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced slightly, about 10 minutes.
  4. Mix the egusi with 1/3 cup water in a small bowl. Stir to combine until a thick white paste forms.
  5. Add the chicken broth to the stew and stir. Use a tablespoon to scoop the egusi paste and place dollops of it over the stew. Do not stir. Cover and let the egusi cook until it forms clumps, about 10 minutes. Stir the clumps of egusi and mix them thoroughly into the stew; the stew will have a lumpy white appearance.
  6. Add the meat to the stew and stir to combine. Allow the stew to simmer until the liquid reduces slightly and the stew starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir in the collard greens and uziza leaves; cover partially with the lid. Simmer over medium-low heat until the collard greens and uziza leaves are tender, about 15 minutes. Serve with pounded yam, fufu or steamed white rice and sweet plantains.

Cook’s Note

This stew can be made with your choice of meat. I prefer what my community and I call African chicken or hard chicken, also known as stewing hen (a retired egg layer). The chicken or any other meat must be cooked before adding to the stew. On a stovetop, stewing hen cooks longer (1 1/2 hours) than regular chicken because of its toughness. I save time by cooking this type of hen in my Instant Pot® with 2 cups water and a good pinch of salt for about 25 minutes under high pressure. Natural release. Many of the ingredients can be found at international or African grocery stores and online. Red palm oil is made from the fruit of the African oil palm (both the seeds and the flesh). It is less refined than bleached palm oil. If you cannot find red palm oil, you can use vegetable oil or canola oil.