Nigeria – Melon Soup with Iyan (pounded Yam)

The African ingredients are very expensive in Athlone, but we have to have them! Olayinka exclaims as she describes the difference between pounded yam and powdered yam.

The door opens and her daughter comes home, saluting her mother in the traditional way. For Olayinka, the most important part of her culture and what she passes on to her children is courtesy and the Yoruba forms of salutation. Girls and women salute older members of the tribe by kneeling in front of them while boys and men will prostrate themselves fully.

Our characters are like smoke – the way we behave at home will always be evident in the outside world she says.


Quantities for 8 people


  • Dried fish (croca fish, tilapia or stock fish) or beef
  • 2 cups of ground melon seeds or egosi*
  • Onion
  • Salt
  • Maggi (African stock cube)
  • Palm oil

Mix the egosi to a paste with a small amount of palm oil. Chop the onion and add the seasonings. Boil the meat or fish with the maggi and then add the rest of the ingredients. (The time taken depends on the type of fish or beef used).

Iyan     Pounded Yam

  • 2 yam tubers (isu)

Peel the skin off the tubers and cut into small pieces. Boil for 20 to 30 minutes. Pound for 10 to 15 minutes with a mortar and pestle until it reaches the consistency of custard.

* Egosi or ground melon seeds are used widely in West African cuisine; they add a creamy texture and nutty flavour to many recipes.