Even if you can find a reliable one, recipes for West African egusi tend to fall under the category of "soup," which can be misleading for the novice. The dish is more akin to a hearty stew and can, in the hands of a sloppy kitchen, be heavy on palm oil and watery egusi paste. This recipe transforms the soup into more of a meat dish with an egusi sauce. It maintains the essential flavors of the dish while making it more visually appealing on the plate.
Egusi is traditionally served with a side of starchy fufu, used as a scoop to eat the dish. Lacking fufu, you could serve it over rice.
All of the African ingredients for the dish can be found at Afrik International Food Market in Hyattsville (301-322-3080).
Yield: (about 5 cups)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons palm oil
- 2 cups cubed, bone-in goat meat
- 1 cup cubed beef
- 1 large yellow or white onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 3 chicken bouillon cubes, preferably Maggi brand
- 4 cups water, or more as needed
- 1 medium red onion (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 dried alligator peppers (may substitute another dried hot pepper of choice)
- 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded
- 2 Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 1/4 cups ground egusi
- 1 cup dried crawfish (optional)
- 1 cup dried bitterleaf
Heat 2 tablespoons of the palm oil (it will probably be semisolid but will melt quickly) in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Add the goat and beef; sear until browned, 6 to 8 minutes, then transfer the meat to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium; add the yellow or white onion and the garlic. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring a few times, until the vegetables are soft and semi-translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Return the meat to the Dutch oven, then add the curry powder, the bouillon cubes and 3 cups of the water. Cover and cook for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, adjusting the heat so that the liquid is barely bubbling at the edges. Add water if the mixture appears to be getting too dry.
Meanwhile, combine the red onion, dried and fresh peppers and tomatoes in a blender; puree until smooth.
Whisk together the ground egusi with the remaining cup of water in a medium bowl to create a semi-thick batter with a consistency similar to that of pancake batter.
Heat the remaining 1/2 cup of palm oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion-pepper puree, the dried crawfish, if using, and the meat-onion mixture. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to meld. Add the egusi batter and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes.
Add the dried bitterleaf and stir until it is threaded throughout the sauce.
Remove from the heat; serve immediately.
Adapted from a recipe at AfricanFoods.co.uk.
Tested by Tim Carman.
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