For weeks now I have been wanting to try an alternative to Egusi soup for a while now. Eva, our Czech honorary Nigerian wife cooked Egusi soup with Almonds. That girl can cook many Nigerian women under the table. Serious smack down, the kind she won’t even play. See why you should be following Dooney’s Kitchen on Instagram, you will see some of Eva’s posts and marvel at her Nigerian cooking prowess, which I shared as part of my weekly #cookcrush episodes. Anyways, using almonds came into my consciousness again because of #Fitfam and I moseyed down to My Fitness Pal to check how many calories one cup contains. Hot Damn!!!!! My eyes almost popped out of my skull. 823 calories. WHAT!!!!!, I checked Egusi too, 836. Yikes!!!!!. Now, you may say hmmmmn, that figure is doubtful, who verified the Egusi, but wait a minute and think back to all you know about Egusi. It contains a lot of oil. Like aaaaaa lot. Fact. it is very buttery too in taste, see where I am going.
Anyways, I thought to strike out almonds. Then I considered Sesame seeds, 825 calories. Ah ah, these nuts and seeds are just conspiring against me. Sad face. Then some lovely reader left a comment on Instagram saying I should try Pumpkin seeds. Of course, of course. They are very close cousins to Egusi. Yes people, on Sunday, I bought a packet of pumpkin seeds and of course I had to bring out the other seeds for comparison, so people can see all the options. These I posted on Instagram. From Left to right, and in order of number of calories; Pumpkin seeds, Almonds, Egusi seeds and Sesame seeds (benniseed).
All 3 can be used to make ‘Egusi’ style soup. To switch things up, you can try them, best of all if you live outside Nigeria, these 3 can be found in your local supermarket, and you may not have to visit the Nigerian food store, if you don’t want to.
Calories in one cup of Pumpkin seeds. Wait for it, wait for it. 285 calories. Digest that information for a second. Okay, now, do the happy dance. Hehehehe. Ignore the colour, believe me you won’t notice when you are done cooking. Have I led you wrong before?
As for the cooked soup, my goodness. I know how my Egusi soup tastes. I switch things up once in a while and it always tastes great. This tasted like a Badass Egusi soup that someone else cooked. Gosh, I loved it.
As for the Efo Igbo, my friend Funmi told me where to buy it. It is supposed to be this rare vegetable, imagine her delight in finding it at one of local Nigerian food stores.
It has a bitter tinge to it, so it needs to be given a good wash between your palms to get rid of the bitterness, just as you would bitter leaves.
Buuuuuuut, who has time for that. I brought out the food processor stat. 2 mins or under, it had done all the work for me. #TheNewNigerianCookery.
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I think I heard about this veg months ago. It is called Efo Igbo. The leaves of an egg plant, or probably garden egg leaves because I don't think egg plants grow naturally in Nigeria. Anyways, Funmi said I need to give it a little wash with my hands to get rid off some of the bitterness. Errrrrrr, manually washing leaves is so last year. Out came the food processor. 2 mins and I am done. It has given me an idea that this method can be used to cut vegetables too you know. All that standing to pick, rinse and chop. See the end result, would you have believed that wasn't hand cut veg? You can also "hand cut" Okro in a food processor. 💃💃💃💃 #theNewNigerianCookery.
If you were not told that not a single grain of Egusi was used in cooking it, I am willing to bet top dollar, that you would not know.
- 1 cup of Pumpkin seeds
- 1 - 2 cooking spoons of Palm oil
- Ata lilo - fresh pepper mix
- Efo Igbo - eggplant leaves or any green veg
- Assorted Meats
- Smoked fish
- Meat Stock
- Ground Crayfish
- This is cooked Exactly as you would Egusi soup. I used the lumpy Egusi style method, but as pumpkin seeds contain less oil, it didn't form the giant lumps I was expecting, but I would be trying it again
- Mill the pumpkin seeds to a fine powder
- Heat up palm oil in a pot, add chopped onions, fry, add pepper, let that fry a little too, add the assorted meat, beef stock, smoked fish and ground crayfish. Let the pepper stock reduce sufficiently
- I didn't want to add this in powder form, so I took a little out of the pepper stock and mixed to form a paste. You can also use blended onions
- Using a tablespoon or your fingers, add the pumpkin seed paste in lumps into the stock. Lower the heat and allow it to cook
- In a few more minutes, just as it would Egusi soup, the paste would have combined well with the pepper stock. See, I told you the green colour will disappear.
- Once the soup has thickened as you like it, add the green veg and stir
- A few more minutes, and that is your soup done
Enjoy your lower calorie Egusi style soup. Pumpkin seeds can be found in most local supermarkets outside Nigeria, and in Nigeria, maybe in the fancy shops, or health food shops.
Here’s to alternative Nigerian Cooking. Here’s to making healthier cooking options.