Egusi soup is a kind of soup thickened with the ground seeds popular in West Africa with considerable local variation. Egusi soup typically contains leaf vegetables, other vegetables, seasonings, palm oil and meat.
Typical leaf vegetables for egusi soup include bitterleaf, celosia, spinach and tomatoes. Usual seasonings include chili peppers, onions, and iru (fermented beans).
Typical meats include beef, goat, fish, shrimp, or crayfish which can also be used as seasoning. In Nigeria egusi is very popular among the Igbo ethnic group of Southeastern Nigeria, the Ibibio people and Efik people (the Calabars) of Southern Nigeria and the Yoruba people. Other ethnic groups in Nigeria including the Hausa also use egusi in their local cuisine. Yoruba people in general and the people of Ọṣun State, especially the Ijesa where Iyan & Egusi is a staple.
In the late 1980s the Canadian government funded a project intended to develop a machine to help Cameroonians shell egusi seeds. A machine has already been developed in Nigeria.
Telfairia occidentalis is a tropical vine grown in West Africa as a leaf vegetable and for its edible seeds. Common names for the plant include Fluted gourd, Fluted pumpkin, and Ugu.
Ugu is a member of the curcurbitaceae family and is indigenous to southern Nigeria. The fluted gourd grows in many nations of West Africa but is mainly cultivated in Nigeria, used primarily in soups and herbal medicines. Although the fruit is inedible the seeds produced by the gourd are high in protein and fat and can therefore contribute to a well-balanced diet. The plant is a drought-tolerant, dioecious perennial that is usually grown trellised.
Telfaira occidentalis is traditionally used by an estimated 30 to 35 million people Indigenous people in Nigeria, including the Efik, Ibibio, and Urhobo. However it was predominantly used by the Igbo tribe, who continue to cultivate the gourd for food sources and traditional medicines . A recurring subject in the Igbo’s folklore, the fluted gourd is noted to have healing properties and was used as a blood tonic, to be administered to the weak or ill . Ugu was an asset to international food trades of the Igbo tribe.