Egusi soup, a soup prepared with grounded melon (citrullus colocynthis) is a must in almost every home in Nigeria.
It is a delicacy Nigerians love to offer visitors because of the rich ingredients used in the preparation, and the taste is incomparable. No wonder, one in every 10 Nigerians will prefer egusi soup to many other types of soup on offer.
However, with the present economic condition, egusi is a scarce commodity, as the price of the main ingredient has soared beyond the reach of the average family.
But, like the old saying that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, Economy&Lifestyle has discovered a way women boycott the inhibitive cost to prepare their favourite egusi soup.
Women now purchase small quantities of the seed and soyabeans, blend them with other ingredients, to prepare egusi soup.
Mrs. Salami Kehinde, a teacher, said when she visited the market recently, she discovered that a derica (cup used in measuring the seed) of egusi, now sells for N1,700, instead of the N500 it was sold, a year ago.
“I went to the market, recently, and was told that a Derica of hand-peeled egusi is 1,700, which was previously sold at N500.
“Meanwhile, I budgeted N500. I walked all around the market to get a place where I can get an engine peel at least for N1,200, all to no avail.
“Then I remembered that soyabeans can be added to egusi to make soup. It thickens the soup and also makes it plenty. You won’t even notice it when the soyabeans are in less quantity, compared to the amount of egusi being mixed.
“I then bought two cups of soyabeans, which cost N500, and added two cups of egusi and made my soup.
“The price of everything has gone up. Even tomatoes are now expensive. Different combinations of fruits such as carrot and mango are mixed with pepper, which is now cheap to prepare the sauce for the rice.”
Mr. Kelechukwu Onuoha, a foodstuff seller at Igando market, said that most of the grind egusi in the market are mixed with soybeans to increase the quantity and also enable the seller to make more profits.
“Many people now mix egusi and soybeans. This is because egusi is now expensive and because we are not in its season and its demand is now high. It’s also because of the scarcity of tomatoes in the market, which has resulted in sellers reducing the quantity and increasing its price.
“Four tiny pieces of tomato are now sold for N200 which was not so before.
“Many of those traders selling grinded egusi out there now mix it with soybeans to make more profits because if they sell ordinary egusi, they won’t even see their profit and customers will complain that the quantity is small if they decide to reduce it.
“It is only God that is helping traders survive in this present economic situation.
“However, some food combinations seem not to go well with the stomach. This was the reason I experienced stomach upset whenever I ate it.
“My stomach is very soft and I defecated for three days. I had to start ordering vegetable soup whenever I visited the canteen.”
Nevertheless, egusi seeds and soyabeans have nutritional benefits to the body.
Egusi seeds are rich in vitamin A, which is crucial for forming and maintaining healthy bones. In addition, they are high in vitamins B1.