Egunsi seeds are tremendously important in West African cuisine as well as important to me. Already a versatile ingredient and snack, I wanted to take Egunsi seeds to the next level and show you just what it could do. In partnership with Ekaterra, Poks Spices, Yolele, Berry Bissap, and Oko Farms – some brands I’m really excited about – I came up with this Egunsi hummus recipe as my contribution to the Celebration of Egusi project.
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What Makes Egunsi Seeds So Important?
Egunsi seeds are a crucial component of many West African staples, including Egunsi soup or stew, which is a West African classic. It’s widely enjoyed in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Cameroon, and it’s where my personal connection to these seeds stems from as well.
I chose to name my brand “Egunsifoods” after the Egunsi seed for many reasons, but perhaps most importantly because of my Ijesha heritage. Ijesha people are known specifically for our Egunsi stew, which we serve with pounded yam. It’s so well known it’s basically our ethnic national dish, so it was one of my favorite things to eat growing up. I knew I had to continue that connection when I founded this company.
Egunsi vs. Egusi: What’s the Deal?
If you’ve heard of Egunsi seeds before, you may have seen it spelled without the “n” – “Egusi.” The added letter isn’t just a difference of spelling, it’s actually important for the pronunciation of the word. Growing up speaking Yoruba, we always included the “n” in “Egunsi.” Even with multiple ways to spell it and plenty of ways to pronounce it (Egusi, Agusi, Agushi, Ikon, Egunsi, Egwusi, just to name a few), we’re always referring to the same, versatile seed that’s a cornerstone of our cuisine.
The Versatility of Egunsi Seeds
As I started to learn more about Egunsi seeds beyond what I knew from growing up eating Egunsi stew, I was fascinated by how useful it is and how many different ways you can use it. Remarkably, Egunsi seeds are quite high in protein; they’re about 30% protein and 60% oil.
This makeup of the seed means it can do a lot of different jobs in the kitchen. Due to its high protein content, it can serve as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes, just like Egunsi stew. Because of the fat content, it can be really useful for thickening soups or sauces or enhancing flavors, especially when you use fermented Egunsi seeds. The umami flavor you get from the fermenting process can take meals, snacks, and moi moi to the next level.
In its raw state (unfermented), it’s basically a blank canvas. It can take on just about any flavor it’s cooked with, meaning the possibilities of this seed are endless, and it will always pack a delicious punch.
My Take on Hummus: Egunsi Hummus
When I set out to create something that would really help celebrate the Egunsi seed – something so important to my heritage and my business – I realized I wanted to showcase its versatility. I wanted to show how the Egunsi seed, something you might be a bit less familiar with, could help you make a dish you already know and love.
Hummus (or houmous) is a Middle Eastern dip traditionally made from chickpeas blended with tahini, garlic, olive oil, and lemon. Various regions have different methods of preparation, and there are plenty of ways to put your own spin on it. My spin was swapping out the chickpeas for Egunsi seeds.
My recipe is a flavorful, West African take on the Middle Eastern concept of hummus, something you could eat as a snack, a dip, or build out into a light meal with toppings and accompaniments (see the recipe below for some of my ideas!). More than that, it shows just how much Egunsi seeds can be a powerhouse in the kitchen.
What You Need to Make Egunsi Hummus
Timing & Servings:
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
For the hummus:½ cup Egunsi seeds
½ a medium onion, chopped
¼ tsp vegetable bouillon
1 cup water
1 tsp Ekaterra Country Onion
½ tsp Ekaterra Native All Purpose Seasoning
¼ tsp Ekaterra Nigerian Ginger
½ tsp Poks Spices Jalapeno All Purpose Seasoning
3 ½ Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp oil
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh thyme
For serving and garnish:¼ cup Egunsifoods Ata Din Din Sauce, with oil
2 cups Yolele Fonio
1 bottle Berry Bissap
1 lb of mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp sea salt
To make the hummus:
- Add the clean Egunsi seeds, chopped onion, ½ cup of water, and vegetable bouillon to a blender. Blend until combined but not entirely smooth – the texture should still be a little bit gritty. Set aside.
- Add the butter and oil to a frying pan until melted.
- Pour the blended Egunsi seeds into the pan and add Ekaterra’s Country Onions, Native All Purpose Seasoning, Nigerian Ginger, Poks Spices Jalapeño All Purpose Seasoning, fresh thyme, and salt.
- Stir until everything is heated and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the finished hummus into a shallow bowl and spread using the back of a spoon. Drizzle with Egunsifoods Ata Din Din Sauce, and top with toasted Egunsi seeds,* fresh thyme, and extra Ekaterra’s Native All Purpose Seasoning.
For the mushroom topping and other garnishes:
- Sauté the mushrooms to a pan with butter or oil, salt, and black pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are nice and browned.
- Serve with the Egunsi hummus and sourdough bread or Yolélé Fonio
- Wash it all down with a Berry Bissap drink!
*To toast Egunsi seeds: add the seeds to a dry pan and toast on medium heat until they start to turn a golden brown. The seeds will pop slightly, and you’ll know they’re done when the popping begins to sound hollow.