My friend sent me a picture of the efo riro he was cooking some couple of days ago, and for a minute, I found myself asking 100 questions from is that efo tete, to are you sure it’s the real thing and, where did you get it from? How much did you pay for it? Anyways at the end of my questions, I just told him, I don’t care what you do to that efo, just make sure you get me a bowl. Some few days later, guess what came knocking at my door? Three bunches of efo tete (African spinach/Amaranthus) and a bowl of cooked efo riro. Although, my friend kept moaning about how his efo riro was not good enough to him, but in my mind I was just thinking, if only he knew how I had wanted the efo so bad. I’m sure he’d not reached his destination before it was consumed.
I remember vividly how my mother makes efo riro back then, it is not the amount of ingredients that goes into it but how you cook it. Efo riro can either be cooked with 7 lives as fondly called (elemi meje) or you cook with the core ingredients available to you. If you want to cook Yoruba efo riro, it is important you use locust beans, smoked fish/dried fish and palm oil. Every other things you decide to add after the core ingredients are just complements.
Also make sure you blend your pepper coarsely as this gives the efo riro special effects. I have other recipes of efo riro on the blog that I added a bit of everything but this time I chose to use smoked mackerel, ground crayfish and smoked ponmo that my great aunt brought for me and it’s the best efo riro I have cooked in a long time. In my mind I named this efo riro ‘almighty efo riro’ the taste can’t be compromised. Every blood in my veins prayed for my friend and his family as I enjoyed the Almighty efo riro with my family.
Lesson of life: choose your friends on quality and not of quantity, you don’t need to be surrounded by thousands of friends to be blessed. Choose your friends wisely
What you will need
3-4 bunches of green vegetables (efo tete)
3 red bell peppers (tatashe)
2-3 scotch bonnet chillies
4Cspn palm oil
3-4tbsp locust beans (Iru woro)
dried shawa/palamu (dried smelt fish)
Smoked ponmo, washed and diced
I used smoked dried ponmo for this recipe, you can also use fresh ones if you want. If you are using the dried ones, soak them in warm water for at least 36-48 hours. Wash ponmo clean (use wired scourers for easier job) and set aside
- Pick the vegetable from the stalk and slice into chunks
- Rinse vegetable clean, drain and set aside
- Wash locust beans and set aside
- Chop 1 onion and set aside
- Shred the smoked fish into flakes and also set aside
- Blend the peppers with onions with little water coarsely and set aside (I sieved the blended pepper as I choose not to boil the pepper)
Place a pan on a medium heat and add palm oil, heat for about 5 minutes but don’t bleach
Add iru woro and chopped onions and fry for about 2 minutes (In this case I used half of the locust beans and saved the rest to be used before I finished cooking the soup)
Add the blended pepper to the palm oil and stir to combine, after about 3 minutes, add the remaining locust beans. Add the diced ponmo and ground crayfish and cook for another 3-4 minutes on low heat
Add seasoning and pinch of salt. (check for salt at the later stage of the cooking)
Whilst you are waiting for the sauce to cook, boil water enough to cover the vegetable. Once the water is boiled, pour over the vegetable and cover with a lid for 5-10 minutes. Strain and squeeze out excess water from the vegetable.
Continue to cook the sauce till oil floats on the top, add half of the smoked fish, dried smelt fish and stir to combine. (You can add little water to the sauce if it is too dry but do not over do it as efo riro is almost water free)
Add the vegetable to the sauce and stir till all is well incorporated.
Add the remaining smoked mackerel and carefully combine in the vegetable. Check for salt and cook for another 4 minutes. Take if off the heat and set aside. Serve with swallow of choice or rice and you can even choose to eat it on its own accompanied with garri Ijebu
Efo riro as I know it.