The main ingredient for cooking melon soup is egusi seeds. These are flat ovoid seeds with a tapering pointed end, milky to white in colour, very rich in protein and highly nutritious plant oil. They are the seeds of a melon plant indigenous to West Africa.
Botanically, they are called Citrullus lanatus. Melon seeds are popularly used in soups in West and Central Africa. They have a very long shelf life and are quite versatile in their uses. They used in human and livestock feeding, as well as in manufacturing.
They grow on dry land and have a light brown shell or husk covering the whitish seed. They look like the pumpkin seed in appearance and slightly larger than the sesame seeds, and are often swapped for them when not available. It is not uncommon to find families sitting around a tray full of this seed, removing the husk from them.
Other names for melon soup are agushi or guna shanu (Hausa), ikpoghiri (Itsekiri), neri niri (Ghanaians)or ibara (Congolese) and many others. You could look at a similar egusi recipe and compare both to see which suits you best. I used similar quantities of ingredients.
Egusi is 30 – 40 % protein and about the same amount of oil.
The oil from this seed is cholesterol-free.
The news gets even better: 78 % of the fat is an unsaturated fatty acid, which is protective to the heart. In terms of vitamins, it contains alpha-tocopherol, a component of vitamin E that helps in maintaining smooth young skin and good fertility.
It also contains palmitic, stearic, linoleic and oleic acids essential in protecting the heart too, and a small amount of carbohydrate and calcium. No wonder the Centre for Cover Crops Information and Seed Exchange in Africa decries the gross under-researched and utility of egusi. It could greatly help to wipe off malnutrition. Now let us go over to the kitchen and start cooking.
It is always very efficient to sort out your ingredients before you commence cooking. Also, preparing some of your ingredients beforehand saves time, this is especially so if you leave in regions where electricity is not a problem. And you can store food in the fridge. But if you cannot guarantee safe storage of your prepped food beforehand then, start earlier in the day to get everything in good time.
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