When I visited Abakaliki some couple of months back, I came back with some Beniseed. The middle belt of Nigeria has abundant quantity of Beniseed also known as sesame seeds. I understand, Ogoja area of Cross river state and Ibira people of Kogi states all enjoy cooking Beniseed Soup. In Ibira, beniseed is called ‘Epi Gorigo’.
As I was visiting the markets in Abakaliki, my market guide convinced me to buy some beniseed promising me that soup cooked with it was simply amazing. When a man recommends a dish and goes ahead to give you the detailed recipe then there must be something to it.
Last week I decided to give this recipe a try. Let me just say I was blown away. The thing about beniseed is that it does not have that ‘jute bag’ smell that Egusi comes with.
Yes, beniseed does have a slight bitter taste particularly when some of the seeds are harvested prematurely but this is not a problem at all. I cooked my Esa with bitter leaves so you will not notice any unpleasant bitterness. Indeed I actually like the slight bitterness. Beniseed actually has more oil than egusi so when using palm oil in this dish use a little quantity. I will score Beniseed soup 9/10 whilst Egusi soup will rank 7/10 in terms of taste.
Where can you find beniseed? Certainly in most large markets. In the shops you may find sesame seeds. It’s one and the same thing. Enjoy Beniseed Soup!
Recipe for Beniseed Soup
1 cup Beniseed
3 pieces Snail
8 pieces Pomo
1 cup beef stock
1/4 cup washed and chopped Bitter leaf
4-6 leaves sliced Nchawun/Effirin /Ntong /Scentleaf
1 tablespoon ground Crayfish
1/4 medium size Onion
Some yellow Cameroon Pepper to taste
Some red Scotch Bonnet to taste
1 cooking spoon Palm oil
Seasoning cubes to taste
- Wash and dry the beniseed. Dry fry for a few minutes until it starts to pop but not brown. Allow to cool completely. You may want to get this stage of the cooking done some days ahead of cooking. When the seeds are completely cool, you can blend to a powder. The blend will not be very smooth particularly if you are using the dry part of the domestic blender. I added some onion and scotch bonnet pepper to blend my beniseed so as to get a nice flavour.
- Season snail and cow skin with salt, pepper, small quantity of chopped onion and some seasoning. . Steam snail for about 5 minutes, take out and allow the cow skin to continue cooking if it is the tough type.
- When cow skin is cooked, add the beef stock, crayfish, palm oil and bring to boil for about 5 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning and pepper level.
- Add the ground beniseed and return the snail to the pot and cook for about 3 minutes stirring from time to time.
- Add the Bitterleaf and Nchawun and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Serve with any swallow of choice.