Egusi (also known by variations including egwusi, agusi, ohue, Ikpan, Ikon, agushi) is the name for the protein-rich seeds of certain cucurbitaceous plants (squash, melon, gourd), which after being dried and ground are used as a major ingredient in West African cuisine.[1]

Egusi seeds without shells
Egusi seeds with shells

Authorities disagree whether the word is used more properly for the seeds of the colocynth, those of a particular large-seeded variety of the watermelon, or generically for those of any cucurbitaceous plant.[2] The characteristics and uses of all these seeds are broadly similar. Major egusi-growing nations include Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Mali, and Cameroon.[2]

Species from which egusi is derived include Cucumeropsis mannii and Citrullus lanatus.[3]


Egusi soup is a kind of soup thickened with the ground seeds and popular in West Africa, with considerable local variation.[4] Besides the seeds, water, and oil, egusi soup typically contains leaf vegetables, palm oil, other vegetables, seasonings, and meat. Leaf vegetables typically used for egusi soup include bitterleaf, pumpkin leaf, celosia and spinach. Typical other vegetables include tomatoes and okra. Typical seasonings include chili peppers, onions, and locust beans. Also commonly used are beef, goat, fish, shrimp, or crayfish.

In Nigeria, egusi is common among the people of the southwestern Yoruba people, Efik, Ibibio and Annang people of south-south Nigeria, and the southeastern part of Nigeria by the Igbo people of southern Nigeria.[5]

In Ghana, egusi is also called akatoa or agushi, and as in Nigeria is used for soup and stew,[6] and most popularly in palaver sauce.[7]

In the late 1980s, the Government of Canada funded a project intended to develop a machine to help Cameroonians shell egusi seeds.[8] A machine has been developed in Nigeria to shell egusi.[9]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Rachel C. J. Massaquoi, "Groundnut, Egusi, Palm Oil, and Other Soups", in Foods of Sierra Leone and Other West African Countries: A Cookbook, AuthorHouse, 2011, p. 36.
  2. ^ a b National Research Council (2006). "Egusi". Lost Crops of Africa: Volume II: Vegetables. National Academies Press. pp. 158 (155–171).
  3. ^ Blench, Roger (2006). Archaeology, language, and the African past. Altamira Press. ISBN 9780759104655.
  4. ^ Badiru, I. & Badiru, D. (2013). Isi Cookbook: Collection of Easy Nigerian Recipes. Bloomington: iUniverse. p. 36. ISBN 9781475976717.
  5. ^ "How To Cook Egusi Soup Boiling Method | A Step By Step Guide". AndrewMackayMP.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ "13 Nigerian Foods That Are Eaten By Ghanaians But Have Different Names" Archived 2016-11-27 at the Wayback Machine, OMGVoice.
  7. ^ Freda Muyambo, "Palaver Sauce Recipe", About food.
  8. ^ "Projects in Cameroon". Archived from the original on 2014-11-27.
  9. ^ Shittu, S. K. & Ndrika, V. I. O. (2012). "Development and performance tests of a melon (egusi) seed shelling machine". Agricultural Engineering International: CIGR Journal.