Citizens, Nigeria is a federal constitutional republic in West Africa, bordering Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. It comprises 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, where the capital, Abuja is located. Nigeria is officially a democratic secular country.
Modern-day Nigeria has been the site of numerous kingdoms and tribal states for millennia. The modern state originated from British colonial rule beginning in the 19th century, and the merging of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914. The British set up administrative and legal structures whilst practising indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms.
Nigeria became a formally independent federation in 1960, and plunged into a civil war from 1967 to 1970. It has since alternated between democratically-elected civilian governments and military dictatorships, until it achieved a stable democracy in 1999, with its 2011 presidential elections being viewed as the first to be conducted reasonably freely and fairly.
Nigeria is often referred to as the “Giant of Africa”, owing to its large population and economy. With approximately 182 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world. Nigeria has one of the largest populations of youth in the world.
The country is viewed as a multinational state, as it is inhabited by over 500 ethnic groups, of which the three largest are the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba; these ethnic groups speak over 500 different languages, and are identified with wide variety of cultures. The official language is English. Nigeria is divided roughly in half between Christians, who live mostly in the southern part of the country, and Muslims in the northern part. A minority of the population practise religions indigenous to Nigeria, such as those native to Igbo and Yoruba peoples.
Egusi soup is a delicious and very popular Nigerian soup/stew thickened with ground Egusi (an African melon) seeds and enriched with assorted meat, vegetables fish and spices. Typical leaf vegetables for egusi soup include bitterleaf, celosia and spinach. Other typical vegetables include tomatoes and okra, with normal seasonings including chili peppers, onions, and iru (fermented beans). Typical meats include beef, goat, fish, shrimp, or crayfish and it is actually one of the most popular Nigerian soups used for eating with starches such as Pounded Yams, Eba, fufu and wheat meal.
In Nigeria, egusi is very popular among the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria, the Ibibio people and the Efik people (Calabar people) of Southern Nigeria, the Hausa of northern Nigeria and the Yoruba people, Edo people, Esan people, and Etsako people of the southwest of Nigeria. Yoruba people in general and quite notably the people of Ọṣun State – especially the Ijesha people – eat ‘Iyan and Egusi’, a pounded yam and egusi soup. It is also popular in other parts of west Africa and the cooking methods differs from place to place.
Citizens, I hope you will try this very popular African recipe for yourselves! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 cup ground Egusi seed – buy from Amazon here or use pumpkin seeds
½ cup palm oil
¼ pound smoked trout, skin and bones discarded and the meat flaked
½ pound beef stew meat, chopped into small dice
½ pound chicken thigh meat, chopped into small dice
2 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp thyme leaves
1” piece of peeled ginger, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1 Maggi bouillon cube
2 bay leaves
1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, deseeded and minced
1 large tomato, mashed or blended
1 tsp tomato paste
Fresh ground black pepper
1 package of chopped frozen spinach
1 tbsp ground dried shrimp
½ tsp chili powder
Salt, to taste
Homemade unsalted chicken or beef stock
1. Set stove to medium heat. Add tomato, tomato paste, habanero, ginger, onion and garlic plus some stock to a blender and reduce to a paste. Rinse meat and put in a medium/large pot. Add all the seasonings, except egusi seed, spinach, trout and palm oil. Pour enough stock in pot so that it covers all the meat. Boil on medium heat for at least 1.5 – 2 hours.
2. Pierce meat with a knife to check for softness. If the knife goes through with little pressure, go to the next step or let it boil longer until tender.
3. Add palm oil to boiling meat. Let boil for 5-10 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to low. Add ground egusi and stir thoroughly.
5. Add the smoked trout and ground dried shrimp. Let boil for at least 20 minutes (it should thicken somewhat because of the egusi).
6. Stir and add in the chopped spinach. Let cook for 5 more minutes and turn off heat. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
When it’s ready, serve with pounded yam or mashed sweet potato.