Edikaikong is a Nigerian dish made from a variety of indigenous leafy green vegetables. The dish, literally translated, means ‘Pumpkin and Waterleaf Soup,’ and is native to the South Eastern part of Nigeria, more specifically, the people of Calabar state in that region.
Edikaikong is an incredibly rich vegetable soup as it involves the use of more than two vegetables. Typically, it is made with just Ugwu (Pumpkin leaves) and Waterleaves, however, I prefer to make it with 6 vegetables including the aforementioned two. In addition to it being rich, it is also a very labor intensive soup to make. It’s one of those soups that you make for special occasions or once a month for yourself.
From the way the name sounds, it might seem like a really complicated dish to make, but it really isn’t. If you know how to make regular vegetable soup, Efo Riro, then you should be fine with this.
That said, this is photo heavy, so on with it! (Also, please read the notes section, super important nuggets of info in there ;)
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To learn how to make Edikaikong, here’s what you’ll need:
Recipe Cost: $62.88 Prep: 30 mins Cook: 2hrs 30 mins Difficulty: Intermediate Serves: 6-8
- 4-6 pieces cow’s foot
- 6-8 pieces goat meat
- 4-6 pieces fresh turkey
- 3 plum tomatoes OR 2 m/l tomatoes
- 2 large red bell peppers
- 1 large red onion
- 1 head of garlic OR 8-10 cloves (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 6-8 scotch bonnet peppers/habanero peppers
- 4-6 cups palm oil
- 1 cup Canola oil (optional)
- 3 cups frozen Spinach
- 3 cups dried Oha leaves
- 2 cups dried Nchawu ‘scent’ leaves
- 3 cups dried Ugwu leaves
- 2cups dried Uziza leaves
- 3 cups dried Ukazi/Okazi leaves
- 5 knorr cubes
- 2 tbsps dried/ground red pepper
1. Rinse cow feet, add to pot, add enough water to cover feet. Let boil over medium heat for 2 hours (keep checking water levels, add water as necessary till soft)
2. Rinse goat meat and turkey, add to dry pot over medium heat, add 2 knorr cubes, ground pepper & bay leaf. Let sweat 10-15 mins (don’t add water)
3. After 10-15 minutes, add enough water to cover meats. Let boil over medium heat for 1.5-2 hours or till soft
4. While the meat/cow feet are boiling, chop up peppers ready for blending
5. Add chopped peppers to blender with 1/2-1 cup water
6. Blend till smooth (pre-heat palm oil and canola oil while blending)
7. Palm oil and Canola oil mixture should be hot at this point
7b. Add blended peppers into oil, let boil for 30-45 minutes over medium heat
8. While meat and peppers are boiling away, boil some water in a separate pot
9. Once water boils, start working on ‘cleaning’ the vegetables. Starting with Ukazi, get 2 bowls: 1 for scooping out hot water and the other large enough to hold the vegetables. (Don’t turn the heat off, just reduce it to low.)
9b. Pour out the Ukazi leaves into the larger bowl, pour in enough hot water to cover the vegetables. Stir with a spoon for about 1 minute
10. Drain the Ukazi leaves from the hot water into a sieve
11. Once leaves are drained, rinse with cold running water 4-6 times (please don’t skip this step!)
12. Once rinsed 4-6 times, squeeze vegetables and transfer to a dry pot (no heat yet!)
13. Set that aside, move on to the next vegetable, Ugwu
13b. Pour out the Ugwu leaves into the larger bowl, pour in enough hot water to cover the vegetables. Stir with a spoon for about 1 minute
14. Drain the Ugwu leaves from the hot water into a sieve
15. Once leaves are drained, rinse with cold running water 4-6 times (please don’t skip this step!!)
16. Once rinsed 4-6 times, squeeze vegetables and transfer to a dry pot (no heat yet!)
17. Set aside, move onto the Oha leaves
17b. Pour out the Oha leaves into the larger bowl, pour in enough hot water to cover the vegetables. Stir with a spoon for about 1 minute
18. Drain the Oha leaves from the hot water into a sieve
19. Once leaves are drained, rinse with cold running water 4-6 times (please don’t skip this step!!!)
20. Once rinsed 4-6 times, squeeze vegetables and transfer to a dry pot (no heat yet!)
20b. Don’t forget to check on boiling meats/cow feet and boiling peppers. Add water/turn heat down where necessary!
21. Repeat steps #9b-12 for the remainder vegetables (except Spinach!), Uziza…
22. and Nchawu ‘scent’ leaves
23. Once done cleaning the leaves, they should all be in a dry pot with no heat. Turn heat on to medium, stir often to mix up vegetables. Leave on heat for 15 minutes
24. While vegetables are on stove, meat should be tender. Transfer from stock into bowl with slotted spoon
25. Lightly deep fry (or bake) boiled meat
26. Return to boiling peppers, should be cooked at this point. Add remaining 3 knorr cubes, stir in thoroughly
27. Add fried meats and boiled cow feet to cooked stew till thoroughly coated
28. Turn heat off on vegetables and add to stew
29. Mix vegetables into stew thoroughly. Let cook over low-medium heat for 15 minutes. (Taste/chew vegetables to see if it’s tender/soft enough)
30. While the soup is cooking/simmering away, rinse and drain frozen spinach
31. Add drained spinach to soup
32. Mix spinach into stew thoroughly, let cook another 5-10 minutes over low heat
33. Once it’s done simmering, you have Edikaikong!
These vegetables can be purchased from your local African grocer or some online vendors. The vegetables will be marked by their name so don’t ‘cram’ what they look like o! Lol
- Ukazi/Okazi leaves are also known as Afang leaves and are an ingredient in the popular Igbo dish, Ugba or African Salad. From my understanding, the Calabar, Efik and Ibibios call it Afang, while Igbos call it Ukazi/Okazi.
- Ugwu/Ugu is known in English as ‘Fluted Pumpkin leaves,’ and is believed to have great nutritional values and is often used in cooking soups.
- Nchawu, more commonly known as ‘Scent’ leaves are just that, scented or fragrant leaves. Much like you would consider Basil or Bay leaves to be scented leaves. If I’m not mistaken, they are also known as ‘Effirin’ in Yoruba.
- Uziza leaves are another kind of aromatic leaf and are often used to add flavor to stews and soups.
- Oha leaves — I have nothing, help a sister out!
- As I mentioned in the beginning, Edikaikong is a very rich and labor intensive soup to make. I would recommend it for special occasions or once a month or so as a treat.
- You don’t have to use all 6 vegetables, you can use just Spinach and Ugwu leaves if you’d rather not be bothered with the rest. I think they go well together though, but it’s up to you.
- Edikaikong also uses more Palm Oil than normal, however, due to the density of the soup, at least 95-0-95% of it is absorbed by the vegetables, so you won’t have too much (if any) oil sitting at the top of the soup. Canola oil is completely optional. If you want to use it, but can’t find it, Vegetable or Corn oil will also work.
- All of the vegetables used (except Spinach) are very dark green, so your soup will be very dark green. Don’t be alarmed when you see this, there’s nothing wrong with your soup!
- It’s VERY important to rinse the dried vegetables, because they contain sediments/sand from when they were dried and packaged. If you do not rinse and drain those vegetables 4-6 times, I promise that you will taste grit/sand when you’re eating the finished product. That won’t be appealing, especially if you have to serve the dish. So, don’t be lazy and skip those steps, if it’s too tasking for you, ask someone who can help, to help. I can’t stress this enough!
- Sediment from first rinse of the Ukazi:
- Your finished soup should have little to no liquid. Edikaikong is not a watery soup, it’s very thick with vegetables, hence the need to use more vegetables than you would normally use for say, Efo Riro.
- 5 of the vegetables used, Oha, Ukazi, Uziza, Nchawu and Ugwu leaves are not bland or sweet leaves. If anything they are mildly bitter, hence the need for 5 knorr cubes. At some point before you finish cooking, be sure to taste and see if the amount of knorr cubes used is enough. If not, add 1 more and go from there.
- In addition to the vegetables being mildly bitter, they are also a bit tough and will take a bit longer to get soft/tender as opposed to Spinach which doesn’t take a long time to cook, hence our adding it last.
- You’re getting a bunch of vitamins with this dish, so don’t fret if you missed your daily vitamin after eating this!
- You can use any kind of meat you like: Goat meat, beef, shaki/tripe, kpomo, cow’s foot,fresh or smoked turkey, chicken, fish, etc.
- I’m not a huge fan of smoked/dried fish, so I tend to omit it in my cooking, however, if you like that, by all means add it!
- You can also add Periwinkles/Ishan or snails to the dish or add a combination of all the aformentioned!
- If you can find Waterleaves, you can use that instead of Spinach.
- Someone once mentioned in the comments on another post, that a friend of theirs used Kale. I wouldn’t recommend this as Kale is a bitter vegetable, maybe even more so than Ugwu.
- You don’t have to eat it with Iyan/Pounded yam, it’s vegetable soup, it can go with eba, amala or even rice. Up to you really. If you’re serving guests though, I’d recommend Pounded Yam or Semovita.
With Iyan/Pounded Yam…
Add a bottle of malt, VitaMalt in this case (I massacred this meal, you don’t even know!)
The Recipe Cost of $62.88 is approximate for me in US dollars, but should be used an estimate only. Please keep price fluctuations & exchange rates in mind. If you’re based in the US, the grocery store(s) you frequent might have the same items cheaper or more expensive than what I purchased.
If you’re international, please keep in mind that exchange rates vary constantly. I recommend using this site to convert it from US dollars to your local currency. You might also have some of the ingredients at home already, thereby reducing the cost.
If you’d prefer to see an individual ingredient cost breakdown, let me know!
Can I say Enjoy now? ;)