Efo Riro – Yoruba Way

Efo Riro is a rich vegetable soup that is native to the Yorubas of Western Nigeria. The common vegetables that can be used to cook this soup are water leaves and pumpkin leaves. If these are not readily available where you live, frozen spinach is a very good substitute.

Do you remeber that “efo” meal where the efo sits on one side of the bowl and the water migrates to the other side?  that isn’t efo riro, If efo riro is made right, you shouldn’t have that situation. People cook watery efo every now and again; some crave the saucy stuff especially for rice.  The unique taste of efo riro comes from the use of Locust beans, Bleaching of palm oil and the absence of tomatoes, although there are more than just a single way to prepare it.

If you want the authentic Efo Riro, you should add tomatoes to yours but some don’t like tomatoes in any soup that they’ll use to eat eba, semolina, pounded yam and other fufu recipes. Just add enough tomatoes to make the soup deep red.

Ingredients for Efo Riro

(See the picture some of them at the end of this post)
  • Assorted meat and fish. For the first Efo Riro, we’ll  use:
    • Beef
    • Shaki (cow tripe)
    • Smoked fish
    • Dry fish
    • Stock fish
  • 20 cl palm oil
  • Frozen Spinach: 1 kg
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons ground crayfish
  • 3 big stock cubes (spinach needs more seasoning)
  • Salt & Habanero / Scotch Bonnet peppers (to taste)

The Cooking Proper (Directions 1)

  • Start cooking the shaki first with as little water as possible (see video below) as it is the toughest meat in the bunch. This soup should have as little water as possible so add small amounts of water at a time and top it up as you cook.
  • When the shaki starts to curl, add the dry fish and stockfish.
  • When the shaki is almost done, add beef, stock cubes and onions and cook till all the meat and fish are well done.
  • Top up the water to about half the contents of the pot. Add the crayfish, smoked fish, pepper and palm oil.
  • Cover the pot and cook at high heat till the oil has changed from red to yellow.
  • Add the spinach or any other soft vegetable: pumpkin, water leaves etc.
  • Cover and cook still it gets a good boil, taking care not to overcook the vegetables. Add salt to taste and leave to simmer for 2 more minutes.

(Directions 2)

Following the ingredient list below;

Part 1

  • 4 Red bell peppers (Tatashe)
  • 1 medium onion bulb
  • 2-3 Scotch Bonnet (Ata Rodo)

Preparation: Chop all listed ingredients. Combine in a blender and pulse to a rough coarse consistency. Pour mixture into a strainer and rest to remove excess fluid.

Part 2 

  • 1 cup of palm oil
  • 1 medium onion bulb (thinly sliced)
  • 2 Tablespoon blended crayfish
  • ½ cup red prawns (head removed)
  • 2 cups shredded fish (smoked Catfish preferably) Washed and de-boned
  • Parboiled meat (Goat meat or beef and/or Ponmon ) 6-8 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons whole locust beans (Iru)
  • Salt- to taste
  • 2-3cube maggi


  • Place a large pot over average heat, add in the palm oil. Heat up until a little smoky.
  • Add the sliced onions and fry until lightly browned
  • Add in the end result of part A and the left over ingredients in part B.  Cover and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes (The palm oil will float to the top when the sauce is ready).
  • Add in the spinach, combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning, leave to simmer for another 3- 5 more minutes.


Serve Efo Riro with Semolina, Amala, Pounded Yam, Eba or any other fufu meal.


The Smoked Fish,        Frozen Spinach,           CrayFish and                  the Efo Riro





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