Garden Egg Sauce or Stew

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Garden Egg Sauce or Stew is found in the cuisines of almost all West African countries. Each nation puts its own spin on the dish, and Nigerian garden egg sauce or stew is among the very best.

Garden Egg Sauce or Stew

(Photo Attributed to Author: Kwameghana)

Garden Egg Sauce or Stew Recipe-

  • 8 big garden eggs (Note: if you can’t get real fresh African garden eggs, which are the African strain of the aubergine, or eggplant, you can use canned garden eggs – you just won’t need to boil them first before mashing & blending them into the stew. Another option is to use baby eggplants that are common to America and Europe.)
  • 1 cup red palm oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 habanero pepper, minced)
  • Salt, to taste
  • A few small ogiri okpei (sometimes called “iru” – if you can’t get it locally, it is basically a fermented black beans product, which you can get if you Click Here)
  • 2 small or 1 large smoked mackerel

Some Important Notes on Ingredients and Alternatives For Making Nigerian Garden Egg Sauce or Stew:

  1. Use only small, baby garden eggs. Older garden eggs, allowed to grow on the vine beyond fresh maturity, will have seeds that are tough – very hard to grind by hand in the mortar and pestle, if you are using a blender they are rough even for that appliance to grind up.
  2. Nigerians most favor the color of the stew when using the white garden eggs variety. You can  use the green variety, (or the purple baby eggplants/aubergines found in the Americas), but if you want to stay true to the authentic all Nigerian food recipe, use the white variety.
  3. Palm oil is an essential ingredient for this recipe! Any other oil will not reproduce the special delicious flavor of this classic Nigerian food recipe, and vegetable or olive oils will not produce the unique color, either.
  4. Ogiri okpei (iru) is a traditional seasoning made from fermented locust beans. If you do not have it, use fermented black beans and grind them into a seasoning powder.
  5. Boiled mackerel can be substituted for the smoked mackerel, but if at all possible go with smoked – it adds a flavor you will miss out on with the boiled fish.
  1. Make a puree out of the garden eggs. There are several ways to do this, using a mortar and pestle and/or a blender.
  2. Pour the garden egg puree into a clean pot and cook until all or almost all of the water dries up, then set aside.
  3. Pour the palm oil into a clean dry pot and heat it up. Don’t bleach it, just heat until a small chop of onion sizzles when tossed into the hot oil.
  4. As soon as the oil is at just the right heat, add in all the chopped onion – fry for about 2 minutes.
  5. Next, pour in the garden egg puree and stir for a while. Cover the pot and fry/cook the mixture for several minutes, stirring again and again.
  6. Repeat this fry/cook/stir process until all the remaining water in the puree has evaporated out. At this point the palm oil will have separated (rising up) from the puree.
  7. Take the ogiri okpei seasoning (or the ground fermented black beans) and the minced habanero pepper and blend them together, then add that seasoning mixture into the pot, stir in well, and then add salt to your taste and stir some more.
  8. Add the smoked fish, stir, cover and leave to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes for all the flavors to blend well, and … it’s done!
  9. Serve your Garden Egg Sauce or Stew while still nice and hot. And, as with most authentic Nigerian meals, serve with some Ugali.

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