British-born-Nigerian heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, who knocked out Vladimir Klitschko, in a heavyweight fight, recently revealed in an interview with Nigerian international sports journalist, Oma Akatugba that the secret of his victory was pounded yam and Egusi soup. You may be wondering if that was really his secret but a look at the nutritional benefits of Egusi, according to Ojieh, G et al (2007) seems to support the claim.
Check them out.
Protein – The crude protein composition of Egusi stands at 23.4 per cent making it comparable to other plant protein food sources such as soybean, cowpeas and pumpkin seeds.
Minerals – Egusi is richest in the mineral Phosphorous, followed by Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium and Sodium. Other minerals include Iron, zinc, manganese and copper.
Fibre – The fibre content from the research stood at 12 per cent which is high compared to other legumes.
Carbohydrate – The carbohydrate content is quite low at 10.6 per cent compared to other legumes which tend to have anywhere between 20-60 per cent carbohydrate content; but this isn’t really a problem as Egusi soup is traditionally eaten with a carbohydrate rich food.
Essential Amino acids – Egusi is rich in Arginine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Threonine, Phenylalaline, Valine, Histidine and Methionine.
According to a popular Ibadan-based professional caterer, Olapeju Aiyegbayo of Zurielle’s Pot, there are different ways of preparing Egusi soup. “The way an Ijebu person will cook Egusi soup is different from the way an Igbo or Ibadan person will. Apart from the variety of leaves that are used such as Uwgu, bitter leaf, water leaf and so on, some people also preferred the Egusi to be mixed with ogbonno. In the same vein, while some would prefer to roast the Egusi seeds to make it smell like groundnuts, others prefer to roll the blended Egusi seed with water into tiny balls before adding it inside the soup.”
When asked what her favourite version of the Egusi soup, Zurielle said Egusi elefo, (Egusi with pumpkin or Ugwu leafs.). According to her, this is because Ugwu leaf is rich in nutrition. “I also prefer Igbo Egusi to Yoruba’s because it raises more. “I prefer to use Igbo palm oil because they don’t smell unlike the Yoruba’s.” On whether she loves her Egusi soup with homemade pounded yam or the packaged ones sold at food stores, Zurielle said she preferred the packaged one, as it makes her feel lighter, compared to the homemade, which, according to her, usually makes her feel tired, heavy and lazy.
Zurielle’s favorite Egusi soup recipe and her method of preparing it are as follows:
Ugwu leaves, Egusi, cameroon pepper, locust beans (iru/ ogiri), goat meat, palm oil, cow skin (ponmo), crayfish, stockfish (Okporoko) and smoked fish.
- Season the goat meat and cook for about thirty minutes. I love using one pot for all the cooking stages because I want the entire nutrient to infuse in the soup, from the taste of the meat and lot more.
- Pour the blended Egusi seeds with Okporoko into a pot, add a little water and stir so that it doesn’t form a lump.
- Add the already washed ponmo, iru, or ogiri okpenye into the Egusi, stir and allow cooking for about five minutes.
- Add a lot of palm oil because Egusi consumes a lot of palm oil. A quarter bottle of red oil is enough for one cup of Egusi.
- Add your preferred seasoning cubes, crayfish and salt.
- Add the cooked goat meat and cover the pot to cook for few minutes. Then add the Ugwu and make sure you don’t overcook at this time so as to enjoy the nutrients contained in the fresh Ugwu.
One of the reasons why most people refrain from cooking Egusi soup is because if not properly preserved , it can turn sour. Zurielle advised to avoid too many hands dishing the Egusi soup and of course, it can be preserved in a constant lighted refrigerator.