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from: Central Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering

Egusi Sauce

Egusi Soup, thickened with flour ground from seeds of a species of Cucurbitaceae (gourds, melons, pumpkins, and squashes) is common in Western Africa. In Central Africa, the Egusi Soup becomes a sauce, which is served over boiled vegetables or rice, or grilled chicken, fish, or meat.
Look for egusi (also called agusi, agushi, egushi) in African or International grocery stores. Pumpkin seeds can be substituted, as can Pepitas, which are available in Latin American grocery stores. Sesame seeds might also be used with some success.

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Phyllis M. Kaberry

a sauce (ntee) of oil, salt and pepper is used, to which may be added on occasion fungi, pounded egusi seeds . . .

In Women of the Grassfields: A Study of the Economic Position of Women in Bamenda, British Cameroons (London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office, 1952, Colonial Research Publication No. 14) anthropologist Phyllis M. Kaberry wrote about maize porridge served with various types of sauces. (web published: http://www.era.anthropology.ac.uk/Kaberry/Kaberry_text/)

But to return to the preparation of porridge for the household. While the maize is being ground, water is put on to boil in a pot. Flour is added to this and left to cook for ten or fifteen minutes until it has coagulated into a thick consistency. It is then removed with a calabash ladle in dollops, placed in calabash basins, tossed (if for a guest or a husband), and served with a relish, which is put into a separate clay container (Lamnso, lang). The relish usually comprises greens such as spinach, cowpea-leaves, pumpkin-leaves, cocoyam-sprouts, elephant-grass shoots or, in an emergency, wild leaves, which have been boiled or heated, and then mixed with about a tablespoon of oil, a teaspoonful of salt, and about the same amount of red pepper. In Esimbi, Mbembe and Ngie the quantity of oil is much larger. Sometimes instead of greens, a sauce (ntee) of oil, salt and pepper is used, to which may be added on occasion fungi, pounded egusi seeds, groundnuts, okra, dried locust bean, or termites (ngosi) . Meat, as I have mentioned earlier, is still very much a luxury for the majority of the population; it marks a festive occasion and, while eagerly welcomed in the diet, is not itself regarded as being particularly nourishing: "It is not food; it is something to taste!"

Yams, plantains, potatoes, cocoyams, and cassava may be roasted if a woman is too tired to do more than prepare a scratch meal; but more often they are left to boil slowly in a large pot, and then eaten either in slices, or mashed and consumed with a sauce. Cassava and cocoyam require several hours and are usually cooked on a rest day, or placed on the fire at night and left to simmer in readiness for breakfast. Nowadays, those who have travelled abroad have adopted new foods and recipes to provide variety.


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