An aromatic and hearty West and Central African soup made with Fluted Pumpkin Leaves “Okongobong or Ugu leaves” simmered in Egusi “Melon seeds”.
I don’t know if I should call this a soup or stew, I got so confused. But no matter the name, it’s so savory especially when served hot. Cameroonians call these Okongobong leaves, while Nigerians call them Ugu leaves, although the method and ingredients may be slightly different. In Cameroon, it’s often made with egusi, making your tastebuds scream with joy. There are many types of pumpkin leaves, do not confuse them. This recipe calls for Fluted Pumpkin Leaves (Telfairia occidentalis).
How to prep the Fluted Pumpkin leaves:
I used 88g(about 3 cups) of dried pumpkin leaves in this recipe. To get a green color, I added some fresh spinach. The spinach also softens the dried leaves. If you don’t want to add spinach, boil with a tsp of baking soda to soften. Boil, rinse with cold water, strain, and squeeze. If using fresh leaves, boil with baking soda to soften, but make sure it’s not soft and mushy. Rinse well with cold water to stop the cooking process, the squeeze.
- Egusi: Melon seeds, use ground, or if using whole egusi, blend till smooth. Can be substituted with peanuts.
- Crayfish: For taste and flavor
- Meats: Use any meats but make sure you have enough stock for the soup. Boils meats till tender.
- Salt and seasoning powder to taste.
Okongobong is a versatile soup and can be served with many sides like:
- 3 cups 88g Dried Okongobong leaves boiled and squeezed.
- 2 cups Egusi ground
- 1 tbsp Ginger garlic paste ½ thumpsize ginger and 4 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup Crayfish ground
- 2 cups Spinach optional
- 1 cup Smoked fish
- 1 large Onion chopped
- 4 large Tomatoes chopped
- 2-3 cup Beef broth
- ½ tbsp Seasoning Powder
- 2 tsp Salt 1 tsp to boil beef
- 1-2 cups Cooking oil
- 2 Habenero pepper adjust
- In a pot or pressure cooker, add beef, 1 tsp seasoning powder and 1 tsp salt. Mix till combined, then add about 3 cups of water.
- Boil till tender. Water should be enough so that you will have at least 2-3 cups of stock.
- In a blender or grinder, blend egusi till smooth. If using already ground, skip step.
- Remove beef from stock and save stock for later.
- In a hot pot, add cooking oil and shallow fry beef till golden brown. If you don't want to fry beef Skip step.
- In hot oil, add chopped tomatoes and onion. Let it cook till the oil floats. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
- Now add blended or ground egusi, crayfish, salt, habanero pepper, ginger garlic paste, remaining seasoning powder and salt, smoked fish, and beef stock. Stir till combined.
- Cover and let it cook for 5-7 minutes. Open and stir the pot from time to time to avoid burning. Also, add more stock or water to adjust thickness if needed.
- Add okongobong leaves, mix till combined, and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Taste to adjust any seasonings.
- Remove from heat and serve right away with preferred side.