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Nigerian Pepper Soup Ingredients

March 12, 2012 | 39 Comments

nigerian peppersoup 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.

Breaking down the above list, this post will cover the the three main ingredients that really make the soup:

 1. Uda Uwentia/Negro Pepper/Enge

nigerian peppersoup.uda uwentia

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.nigerian peppersoup.uda uwentia

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.nigerian peppersoup.uda uwentia

 2. Ulima/Alligator Pepper/Atariko

nigerian peppersoup.ulima

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

nigerian peppersoup.ulima

Two more photos of the Alligator Pepper whole with the seeds intact:

nigerian peppersoup.ulima

nigerian peppersoup.ulima

Below is a photo of the ‘just seeds’ version that you might come across:nigerian peppersoup.alligator pepper

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

nigerian peppersoup ingredient.calabash nutmeg.ariwo.ehuru seeds

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.

nigerian peppersoup.goat meat

Hope it helps! :)

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39 Responses to "Nigerian Pepper Soup Ingredients"

  1. kaye says:

    Do you know the English name for scent leaf?

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Kaye!

      I believe the English name is African basil or clove basil, this is different from your regular dried basil seasoning sold in stores.

      Hope that helps!

  2. lilian says:


    • Yetunde says:

      Glad you found it educative!

  3. lilian says:

    What is the medical importance of this Negro pepper?

    • Yetunde says:

      Hi Lilian,

      I wouldn’t know what the medical importance would be. You could try a Google search, perhaps that might yield some more helpful results.

  4. Olaide says:

    Really nice stuff……..I made some dried fish pepper soup last weekend for dinner (served with brown bread). My flat mate asked that we make it more often, especially now that it’s beginning to get cold in Finland.

    It’s really hard to know what they are in English, as I have heard the Yoruba names all my life………..I bought my ingredient from a mallam when I visited Nigeria, all I asked for was the complete pepper soup ingredient (I got some cloves, blended ginger, alligator pepper, some thyme, a seed that one has to crack open and some blended pepper).

    I really don’t know what they are all called……but I know it tasted and smelled just like pepper soup.

    Thanks for the post Yetunde.

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Olaide!

      Thank you! Aww, glad your roommate liked it enough to ask for more. Yes, Peppersoup ingredients are one of those things that most people can identify more by the aroma than by name. But, hey, whatever works right…

      You’re most welcome!

  5. cindy says:

    yetunde nice one ,thanks for taking ur time to give the “pepper soup “ingredients name ,that was alot of help.weldone

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Cindy!

      Thanks, you’re welcome!

  6. anuoluwakitikisha says:

    dis a job weldone…kudos to u…..pls i need a very self xplanatory note on hw tu prepare d pepper soup,is it dat al d ingredient wil b blended or how?…pls i wil apreciate dis.thks

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Anuoluwa! (girl, I got lost after the Anuoluwa, did you add the latter part to your name?)

      Thanks so much, I have a post on how to prepare Peppersoup.

  7. Ikare says:

    Hi, I learned some of these with the Wolof name, so thanks for mentioning some of these with other names that are more common in the States so that I can find them. Like I know the uda as diar. In Senegal they use the pod as well as the seeds, as you pointed out the pod seems to be more aromatic You mention that you bought all the various ‘peppers’ at a store in Chicago. This is where I live, and wondering which one. Thanks!

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Ikare!

      Thanks for sharing some of the other names the ingredients are known as in other languages. I got the ingredients at Old World Market and Homeland Foods on Broadway on the North Side.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Gloria says:

    great job you’re doing here. I’m just wondering- you know Nigeria is a huge country and different tribes have different ways of doing the same thing :) do you actually use the seeds of the alligator pepper? I’ve been told from childhood that it as BAD to put it in the soup. I usually had the job of pounding it and removing the seeds as a child, and the pepper was dropped into the soup, not blended. Wow, this is eye opening. There is no “right way” to cook, I guess. well done indeed!

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Gloria!

      I don’t actually use the seeds in the soup, since I blend it with the other ingredients to make pepper soup. Everyone has a different way of cooking, so there really is no absolutely right or wrong way, I think it just boils down to personal preference based on convenience and outcomes.

      Hope that helps!

  9. razor says:

    What’s cumin in yoruba ?

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Razor!

      No idea, it’s not as common in Nigerian cooking. I can ask though and update this comment as necessary.

  10. nwachoko says:

    P,s I need the English name of Ulima and possibly the picture.

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Nwachoko!

      The English name is Alligator pepper and number 2 in this post, shows the photo.

  11. nwachoko says:

    i mean the English name and picture of Urioma as pronounced by IKA People, though Uhrobos pronounced it Ulima

  12. Melani A says:

    Hi It is so hard for me to buy these supplies here at my local african shop (Colorado lol) Can you please send me your email/contact info so I can place an order with you for you to send it to me or direct to where i can place an order for my supplies please. Thank You

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Melani!

      I would have to research where you can purchase it as I don’t sell produce and send you an email separately, so give me till this weekend.

      Thanks dear.

  13. ada says:

    Good going dear. Please for correction Ehuru is not the same spice as nutmeg. Ehuru id a different seed mostly used. Igbo use it primarily for making ose oji which is a brown peppery paste for eating garden eggs.


    • Yetunde says:

      Thanks for the correction!

  14. ogbonne says:

    Hello, thanks for the list. I really want to know how to use “uda”. Do I crack it open and use the seed or should I just throw it in as a pod?

    • Yetunde says:

      I think cracking it open would be the better option…

  15. joy says:

    uda is been pound or grind it together with the pud, suck it with water for a while then filter it and make use of the water so that the you will not be chewing the charf as you enjoy your pepper soup.

  16. Temilade says:

    Pls what is cumin seed or its powder in yoruba or as known in any other Nigerian language in Nigeria. Pls reply to my mail, thanks and also you are doing a great job here. Well done

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Temilade,

      I have no idea what it’s called in Yoruba. Try using curry powder instead. Thanks dear!

  17. Arho Umukor says:


    The website is very informative. Does anyone know the scientific name of atariko and irhegheje please let me know.

    Many thanks


    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Arho,

      Unfortunately, I don’t. Perhaps someone else can help…

  18. Jeremy says:

    you are so awesome you should be arrested! WHAAAAT see breakdown of life… i am so glad google dug this up! thanks hunnnie!

    • Yetunde says:

      No way! Lol, too funny, don’t know how I missed this comment, it’s everything! Hope your dish turned out well :)

  19. Jenny says:

    Hi!. I want to try out fish peppersoup for my boyfriend and I this weekend. The last time i tried it, it dint turn out so well but he was such a sweetheart about it. I had used the mixed spices i got from the open market….never again! lol
    This time am going to buy the ingredients you have listed. Wish me luck!

  20. Chichi says:

    Where do u buy the ehu in Chicago? I want to make but don’t know where to go

  21. Anny says:

    Please, I get confused with uda pod/negro pepper and una yak pod/Aidan plants, can you please differentiate between them with clearer pictures, thanks. I heard it’s needed to make Nigerian white soup.

  22. Lola says:

    Pls I need the igbo name of cumin

    • Yetunde says:

      I have no idea what it would be, sorry! Maybe someone else can help…

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