The Spiciness of Nigerian Food and a Favorite Egusi Stew Recipe of Western Africa
Nigerian cooking relies on starchy root vegetables such as yams and cassava. Nigerians also use lots of green vegetables, such as bitterleaf (similar to collard greens), okra, spinach, and other African plants. Plants are not the only things Nigerians turn to. They do like meat dishes using goat, fish or chicken.
The people of northern Nigeria love spicy-hot meat kabobs. In southern Nigeria, the people love many kinds of seafood stews with shrimp, fish, lobster, crab, rice, and vegetables. In the central part of Nigeria, the people love to have stewed meats served with mashed yams or cassava.
Egusi Nigerian Stew
In Nigeria, edible melon seeds go by the name of “egusi,” and with this popular Nigerian stew, the melon seeds are finely ground to give this dish a unique color and flavor. In place of melons seeds, pumpkin seeds work very well with this stew recipe. And the shrimp can be replaced or added along with any smoked fish or crab. In place of the chicken, smoked oysters right out of a can, or beef can be used.
Red palm oil gives this stew a distinctive African cooking taste. It can be found on the internet, in international grocery stores, or Latino markets in particular. Do not try to substitute for the red palm oil. This oil is worth the effort to look for.
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 3-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Salt to taste
1/3 cup red palm oil
2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut in half, seeds squeezed out, and grated through the largest holes of a grater.
1 small onion, chopped
2 habanero chile peppers, stemmed and halved
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2/4 cup water
1 1/4 pounds fresh shrimp, heads and shells removed
1 pound fresh spinach, with stems, chopped
Put the pumpkin seeds in a food processor and blend for about 20 seconds until in a powdery form. Reserve.
Salt the chicken, then in a large casserole frying pan, heat the red palm oil over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides, for about 6 minutes in all.
Place the tomatoes, onion, and habanero pepper in the food processor, and blend for about30 seconds, or until very smooth. Reduce the heat to low, and cover partially. Cook, turning occasionally, until the chicken can be easily pulled off the bone with a fork, or about 1 1/2 hours.
Add the water and shrimp and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add the spinach and the reserved ground seeds and continue simmering for about 10 minutes more, Serve immediately. This Egusi African Stew recipe makes 6 servings.
Billy Bristol is the writer and editor for Spicy Cooking, a website devoted to hot spices, spicy foods, blazing cooking, the hottest cuisines around the world, and “knock-your-socks-off fiery recipes that all chile-heads and chili-head wannabes will love. Spicy Cooking will fire up taste buds and scorch your plate…Guaranteed.