Ingredients for Nigerian dish Egusi, from upper left: dried bitterleaf, palm oil, pepper soup mix, grown egusi, alligator pepper and dried crawfish. (Deb Lindsey/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Get to know your West African ingredients, at least the ones shown above:

Dried bitterleaf. Its taste is akin to collard greens; used in stews such as egusi (see related recipe online) and in the namesake bitterleaf soup.

Palm oil . Derived from the palm fruit; found in many West African dishes. Its increasing use in processed foods has led some to claim that palm oil production is leading to deforestation.

Pepper soup mix. A key seasoning element in the namesake soup, which is often prepared with goat meat.

Ground egusi . Powdered seed of a melon widely grown in West Africa; used to thicken and flavor stews.

Alligator pepper . Large pods contain tiny seeds that resemble black peppercorns but deliver more pronounced kick and a floral-citrus flavor; a.k.a. melegueta pepper or grains of paradise.

Dried crawfish . Usually ground and added to soups and stews for flavor; can be used as an ingredient in the fiery shito condiment.


Goat and Beef With Egusi Sauce