Nigerian Pepper Soup Ingredients
As a follow-up to the recipe on Nigerian Pepper Soup, this post expatiates on the ingredients needed to make the soup. Below is the full list of ingredients needed to make the soup, but this post will be focusing on the nitty gritty portion of the ingredients which will be broken down further.
As explained earlier, my main reason for this post is: “Nigerian Pepper soup is an intricate soup to make and as such, in order to provide a better explanation without overwhelming one post, I will divide this post into two parts: Part 1 will cover the recipe, while Part 2 will be more in depth on the ingredients needed. So, after reading through the recipe, you are encouraged to read through the ingredients post for a better explanation.”
Also, most people who run into difficulties with the soup, either know the native name and not the English name or vice versa. Conversely, they might know what the ingredient looks like, but not know the name, so this post should provide clarification on that.
- 10-12 small cuts of skinless goat meat
- 6-8 small cuts of shaki/tripe/towel
- 6-8 small cuts cow skin/kpomo
- 4-8 rodo/scotch bonnet peppers/habanero
- 1 cluster uda uwentia/negro pepper/enge
- 3 tbsps ulima/alligator pepper/atariko
- 3 calabash nutmegs/ehuru seeds/ariwo
- 3 tbsps ground crayfish
- 1 handful/2-3 tbsps nchawu/scent leaves
- 4 knorr cubes
- 3 tbsps crushed red pepper (optional)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 12-15 cups of water
- A powerful blender or spice grinder
Breaking down the above list, this post will cover the the three main ingredients that really make the soup:
- Uda Uwentia/Negro Pepper/Enge
- Ulima/Alligator Pepper/Atariko
- Calabash Nutmegs/Ehuru Seeds/Ariwo
1. Uda Uwentia/Negro Pepper/Enge
The native name for this ingredient is Uda Uwentia. At most African stores, it is clearly labeled as such (and relatively inexpensive). It might also just be labeled as Uda. It is also known as Enge, however, I’m unsure as to what language/country that name is from. It is also sometimes referred to as Kieng, and I am unaware as to the origins of that name.
The English name for Uda Uwentia is Negro Pepper. It is a pepper grown primarily in Africa, not to be confused with the Mexican Negro Pepper. The version of Uda used for Pepper Soup is dried, not the ripened kind. When the pepper is ripening, it looks similar to miniature unripe plantains.
The dried version turns black, hence the name and is often in clusters.
When you hold it up to your nose, it’s quite aromatic and lends itself in part to the flavoring of the Pepper Soup. When you break the shell open, the seeds don’t seem to be as aromatic as the shell.
2. Ulima/Alligator Pepper/Atariko
The native name for this ingredient is Ulima and another native name is Atariko. It might be more commonly known by its English name of Alligator Pepper. It is usually labeled as Ulima at African stores, but in Lagos markets, it might be easier to find by asking for it by it’s English name. It is usually sold either as a whole pepper with the seeds intact, or the seeds will be sold separately.
I bought both versions to show you which you might be presented with at the store/market. Below is the whole pepper with the seeds intact
Two more photos of the Alligator Pepper whole with the seeds intact:
Below is a photo of the ‘just seeds’ version that you might come across:
Ultimately, in favor of saving time, I recommend just purchasing the version with only the seeds, as if you purchase the whole pepper, you have to remove the shell to get to the seeds which are deeply embedded in the shell as seen in the photo above. Unlike Uda, Alligator Pepper seeds are more aromatic than the shell.
Aside from being an important ingredient in Pepper Soup, it is also important in the Yoruba culture and is used in a host of traditional activities, some of which include being used in naming ceremonies during prayers and sometimes as a dowry gift when taking a bride, amongst others.
3. Calabash Nutmeg/Ehuru/Ariwo
The native name for this ingredient is Ehuru or Ariwo, and the English name is Calabash Nutmeg. It is not to be confused with a regular nutmeg, as they are inherently different. In Chicago, I’ve only been able to find these at one African store owned by an Igbo lady and the ones I purchased seemed a tad different from what I remember and she labeled them simply ‘pepper soup.’
The seeds are aromatic and have a similar smell to your regular nutmeg, however, these are mildly spicier. I removed the shells to get to the seeds which smelled fine. The seeds are mid to dark brown. Not to provide confusing information, I’ll post just the one photo and search more African stores to see if I they have the calabash nutmeg and see if it’s the same or if my memory just fails me now, lol
The Calabash Nutmeg is also known as Jamaican Nutmeg or African Nutmeg.
Your meat should be cut into small pieces. Same with chicken, turkey or whatever choice of protein you decide to use.
Hope it helps! :)