Egusi Soup (Nigerian Chicken Stew), Fufu, and Sweet Fried Plantain

One of the many things I fell in love with about Nigeria, in the brief time I lived there, was the food.

The scorching hot suya (meat strips coated in pepper powder) grilled on a chain-link fence over an open fire, the amazing flavor of truly “free range” chicken, the meat pies, and my all time favorite: the stews, especially Egusi, served with pounded yam,

West African Egusi with FuFo and Plantain

Egusi Soup (Nigerian Chicken Stew)
Serves 6-8

1 cup roasted egusi seed (if you can’t find these, and you probably can’t, use roasted pumpkin seeds)
1 large large Spanish or white onion
1 cup salad shrimp
¼ cup chicken broth*
¼ cup red palm (or canola) oil
½ large large Spanish onion
½ yellow bell pepper
1 lb fresh chopped spinach
1 cup bbq sauce* (Sweet Baby Ray’s Spicy)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 ¼ cups chicken broth
1 deli roasted chicken, pulled (Costco)

*Okay, so they didn’t use bbq sauce in Nigeria, BUT the combination of tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and spices made this a simple replacement.

In the morning… combine pumpkin seeds, half the onion (diced), and shrimp in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, adding a little chicken stock*, as needed to keep it liquidy. Set aside in a covered bowl.

Heat oil in a large pot.

Egusi broth: Dice the remaining half of onion and add to oil. Stir until soft and translucent, add bell pepper, spinach, bbq sauce, and chicken broth, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool, then refrigerate.

When you arrive home…

Remove meat in large peices and skin from chicken. Finely dice the skin, and add it amd meat to egusi broth. Add pumpkin seed sauce, and bring just to a low simmer (just enough to warm the chicken through).

Serve egusi on top of a ball of FuFu (below), with sweet fried plantain on the side.


safe_image.phpFuFu (Pounded Yam)

First all, these may not be what you think of as “yams”. In Nigerian that’s what they call cassava root, not the same as the sweet orange cousin of the potato that we eat with marshmallows at Thanksgiving.

Conventional west African fufu (variants of the name include foofoo, foufou, fufuo) is made by boiling such starchy foods as cassava, yam, plantain or rice, then pounding them into a glutenous mass, usually in a giant, wooden mortar and pestle. I woke up more than once in rural Nigeria to the early-morning sounds of the rhythmic thud-thud’s of fufu being made. As you can see in this video, making fufu is a lengthy and phisically demanding process!

Being a lazy American, I “half cheat”, lol…with an easy version I found online combining 2 cups bisquick, 2 cups instant potatoes, and six cups of boiling water. The consistency is about perfect but I like the flavor better when I boil a cassava root until it completely disintegrates, and then use 6 cups of that stock, instead of just water.

Fufu is eaten by taking a small ball of it in one’s fingers and then dipping into an accompanying soup or sauce.

6 cups yucca stock*
2 1/2 cups Bisquick
2 1/2 cups instant potato flakes

Yucca stock:
2lbs raw yucca root (also called “cassava”)
2 gallons water

In the morning:

Bring a gallon or so or water to a simmer in a large, heavy pot. Add yucca and boil 20-30 minutes until the peel has softened and started to separate from the root. Dump the water and let the yucca cool enough to handle. Remove the peel and discard, roughly chop the yucca. Rinse the pot and refill with another gallon of water, add yucca and bring to a low simmer. Cook 4-6 hours until the yucca has completely disintegrated (hot it with a potato mashers a few times while cooking to speed this up).

Remove any hard pieces or fibers remaining and add enough water (if needed) to make a total of 6 cups of stock. Bring to a boil.

Add instant potatoes and Bisquick to the stock, and stir constantly for 10 – 15 minutes – a process that needs two people for best results: one to hold the pot while the other stirs vigorously with a strong implement (like a thick wooden spoon). The mixture will become very thick and difficult to stir, but don’t stop until it’s almost solid, almost like play-do.

When the fufu is ready (or you’ve stirred until you can’t stir anymore), wet you hands and scoop up a baseball-size lump (it’ll be hot!) and form into a ball, slapping back and forth between hand until it’s a smooth ball.

Serve immediately.

Sweet Fried Plantain
Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
2 firm-ripe plantains (about 1 pound)
Kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

Peel the plantains and discard the skins. Slice into 1/4-inch thick pieces. In a bowl, combine sliced plantain, sugar, and ginger. Toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours, or overnight.

Heat about an inch of oil in heavy bottomed pan over medium heat until shimmering. Line a large plate with paper towels.

Fry the plantains in oil, turning occasionally, until a golden brown color, about 2 to 4 minutes. The longer the plantains fry the sweeter they are. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle the plantains with a little salt.

Lots more recipe over at the blog!


Oh man! I have a couple of left over fufu, which and put the the fridge. They promptly turned into bocci balls, lol.

Almost tossed them, but decided to try slicing into planks and sauteing in butter with a sprinkle of salt.

SWEET CRACKER SANDWICH – Served with a lightly fried egg on top…these “fufu fritters” are SO good!

fufu fritters


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