Egusi (Yoruba) (also known as agusi, egwusi , ohue, Ikpan, Ikon, agushi or mbíka) 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][2]

Egusi seeds without shells
Egusi seeds with shells

Egusi melon seeds are large and white in appearance; sometimes they look brownish or off-white in color but the main egusi color is primarily white.[3]

Scholars 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.[4] Egusi seeds are in a class of their own and should never be mistaken for pumpkin or watermelon seeds. In particular the name "egusi" may refer to either or both plants (or more generically to other cucurbits) in their capacity as seed crops, or to a soup made from these seeds and popular in West Africa.[5]

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.[4]

Species from which egusi is derived include Melothria sphaerocarpa (syn. Cucumeropsis mannii) and Citrullus lanatus.[6]



Egusi seeds are used in making Egusi soup; the soup is thickened with the seeds. Melothria sphaerocarpa from which egusi seeds are from grows throughout central to western Africa and is used by different ethnic groups in these regions to prepare the soup, and the origins of the soup are unknown and often disputed. [7] Egusi soup is a very popular soup in West Africa, with considerable local variations.[8] Besides the seeds, water, and oil, egusi soup typically contains leafy greens, other vegetables, seasonings, and meat.[9] Leafy greens typically used for egusi soup include Efo Tete, scentleaf, okazi/afang (wild spinach), bitterleaf (onugbu), pumpkin leaf (ugu), celosia and spinach. Other commonly used vegetables include tomatoes, okra and bell peppers. Typical seasonings include chili peppers, onions, and locust beans. Also commonly used ingredients are beef, goat, fish, shrimp, or crayfish as sources of protein.

In Nigeria, egusi is common throughout the country, and the seeds are used in making stews and soups.[10]

In Ghana, egusi is also called akatoa or agushi, and is used for soup and stew,[11] most popularly in palaver sauce.[12]

In the late 1980s, the Government of Canada funded a project intended to develop a machine to help Cameroonians shell egusi seeds.[13] A machine has also been developed in Nigeria to shell egusi.[14]

Seed oil


Egusi seed oil contains linoleic acid (53%) and oleic acid (19%).[15]


See also



  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. ^ Ukegbu, Kavachi Michelle (2021). The art of fufu : a guide to the culture and flavors of a West African tradition. Grubido. Austin, Texas. ISBN 978-1-62634-596-6. OCLC 1241244901.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  3. ^ National Research Council (U.S.). Board on Science and Technology for International Development (2006). Lost crops of Africa. Volume II, Vegetables. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. ISBN 978-0-309-66582-7. OCLC 85851965.
  4. ^ a b National Research Council (2006). "Egusi". Lost Crops of Africa: Volume II: Vegetables. National Academies Press. pp. 158 (155–171). doi:10.17226/11763. ISBN 978-0-309-10333-6.
  5. ^ Aninkan, Anjola S.; Makinde, Eyitayo A. (2021-08-23). "Fertilizer Rate for Optimum Growth and Yield of Egusi Melon (Colocynthis citrullus L.)/ Hot Pepper (Capsicum chinense, Jackquin cv. rodo) Intercrop". 5th International Students Science Congress. Izmir International Guest Student Association. doi:10.52460/issc.2021.005. ISBN 9786057073723. S2CID 238738395.
  6. ^ Blench, Roger (2006). Archaeology, language, and the African past. Altamira Press. ISBN 9780759104655.
  7. ^ Olofinnade, Anthony T.; Onaolapo, Adejoke Y.; Stefanucci, Azurra; Mollica, Adriano; Olowe, Olugbenga A.; Onaolapo, Olakunle J. (2020-10-01). "Cucumeropsis mannii reverses high-fat diet induced metabolic derangement and oxidative stress". Frontiers in Bioscience-Elite. 13 (1): 54–76. doi:10.2741/872. ISSN 1945-0494. PMID 33048776.
  8. ^ Badiru, I. & Badiru, D. (2013). Isi Cookbook: Collection of Easy Nigerian Recipes. Bloomington: iUniverse. p. 36. ISBN 9781475976717.
  9. ^ Okwanma, Robin (13 November 2022). "Egusi Soup: Ingredients". CYBER NG. Robin Okwanma. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  10. ^ "Egusi Soup: A Royal Feast For Any Day". Google Arts & Culture. Retrieved 2023-02-08.
  11. ^ "13 Nigerian Foods That Are Eaten By Ghanaians But Have Different Names" Archived 2016-11-27 at the Wayback Machine, OMGVoice.
  12. ^ Freda Muyambo, "Palaver Sauce Recipe" Archived 2016-11-27 at the Wayback Machine, About food.
  13. ^ "Projects in Cameroon". Archived from the original on 2014-11-27.
  14. ^ Shittu, S. K. & Ndrika, V. I. O. (2012). "Development and performance tests of a melon (egusi) seed shelling machine". Agricultural Engineering International: CIGR Journal.
  15. ^ Olubi, O.; Felix-Minnaar, J.V.; Jideani, V.A. (January 2019). "Physicochemical and fatty acid profile of egusi oil from supercritical carbon dioxide extraction". Heliyon. 5 (1): e01083. Bibcode:2019Heliy...501083O. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e01083. PMC 6313835. PMID 30619961.