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Sengbe
Reply with quote  #1 
Egusi is a melon crop scientifically known as “cucumis momi”. It has hairs on all of its organs, but the fruits are spherical, smooth and weigh up to 5 kg. The egusi plant looks so much like a watermelon plant that most botanists think it is one. However on the inside the egusi fruit is neither red, nor luscious, nor sweet. Indeed, it is white and dry and bitter enough to be repulsive.

The seeds are eaten in various forms. Egusi is grown for its seeds, which resemble large, white, melon seeds. Generally, the production of egusi is not great because of extensive cultivation methods. This has led to a limited supply of egusi, driving up prices in the urban market centers.

The egusi plant is also easy to grow. It is extremely resilient to pests and diseases and because it blankets the ground as it grows, it can help suppress weeds. Because of this, farmers often intercrop egusi with other crops, including sorghum, cassava, coffee, cotton, maize, or bananas. Mature egusi melons can also remain in the field for a long time without rotting, so crop loss and waste is rare. And once the seeds are harvested, they can be a reliable year-round food source.

USES

In West Africa, a region where soups are integral to life, they are a major soup ingredient and a common component of daily meals. Coarsely ground up, they thicken stews and contribute to widely enjoyed steamed dumplings. Some are soaked, fermented, boiled, and wrapped in leaves to form a favorite food seasoning. Families in Cameroon can eat the crop year-round and it is in high demand from countries in the Central African sub-region and Nigeria.

NUTRITIONAL VALUE

Egusi is very high in nutritional value. It is rich in protein, fat and vitamins A, B1, B2 and C.
It is made up of 30 – 40 % protein, and about the same proportion of oil.  The oil is cholesterol free.

In terms of vitamins, it contains alpha-tocopherol, a component of vitamin E.
It also contains palmitic, stearic, linoleic and oleic acids and very small amount of carbohydrate and calcium.

HEALTH BENEFITS

78 % of the fat is unsaturated fatty acid, which is protective to the heart.
The alpha-tocopherol found in egusi is a component of vitamin E that helps in maintaining smooth young skin and good fertility. It also contains palmitic, stearic, linoleic and oleic acids important in protecting the heart.

Egusi can also be an important supplementary baby food, helping prevent malnutrition.
Blending the seeds with water and honey produces a milky liquid that can be used as formula if breast milk is unavailable.

Source:
http://www.agro-hub.com/blog/egusi/

Sage
Reply with quote  #2 
I bought a small jar of the crushed seeds recently in the local African store to use to thicken spinach stew. They were pretty expensive, $5 for a little jar, and they perform much the same function as flour dissolved in water, or tomato paste as thickeners.
Spectator 007
Reply with quote  #3 
“I bought a small jar of the crushed seeds recently in the local African store to use to thicken spinach stew. They were pretty expensive, $5 for a little jar, and they perform much the same function as flour dissolved in water, or tomato paste as thickeners.” - The Distinguished History Professor

I have very limited culinary skills so the question I am about to ask you might be misconstrued.

What is the function of the egusi beyond being used as a thickner? Does it add a particular flavor?

Lastly, when did you start cooking with Egusi and what type of dishes have you used it in?

Thanks
Sengbe
Reply with quote  #4 
"...They were pretty expensive, $5 for a little jar..." Sage

You live in NY state, what do you expect? Everything in that state is expensive.

 "...and they perform much the same function as flour dissolved in water, or tomato paste as thickeners..." Sage

They do? Next time cook only the egusi by itself, as a sauce in palm oil, and determine how tasty it is. I bet my cousin was licking his fingers after partaking of that dish.

Way to go, Prof. Sage!!
 
Sage
Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Professor Sengbe,

I have not tried the seeds whole, this was a jar of crushed specifically for thickening. So far I only used it in the spinach stew, which I did with red snapper (broiled), shrimp (boiled in water, save), and chicken (broiled separately then added), peeled tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger sauteed in palm oil, simmered. You dissolve the egusi in a little cold water than fold onto the simmering herbs, then add the spinach, fish, chicken, water and rice, and cook till the rice is done. It is very good, filling though.
Sage
Reply with quote  #6 
Oh, I forgot to list hot peppers, habanero.
Sengbe
Reply with quote  #7 
Oooo! yum! yum!

Thanks for providing that recipe to us.

I will definitely try it the next time I cook egusi stew.
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