Isi Ewu is undoubtedly one of the best African delicacies around if I’m to make a top 3. From the preparation to the presentation it depicts an African culture. If you serve an Isi Ewu in a modern plate, you’re just serving a meat soup. Isi ewu is a traditional Igbo dish that is made with a goat’s head. Sometimes it is mistaken for Nkwobi simply because they share almost the same ingredients, the only difference is Isi Ewu is prepared with Goat’s head, and Nkwobi is prepared using Cow’s foot.
Okay, let’s take a dive into the preparation…. BTW grab the head of a goat on your way back from the market.
Cut the goat head into pieces making sure that the essential parts: ears, tongue etc are whole cuts that is, they are not cut into pieces.
Remove the brain and put in an aluminium foil bag then fold the bag to close just like with Nigerian Moi Moi.
Wash the meat very well with foam and iron sponges where necessary, using a knife to scrape off the tough top skin especially on the tongue. There will also be traces of sooth from burning the fur off the goat, ensure that these are all cleaned.
Put the powdered potash into a bowl. Add a small quantity of water (about 4 table spoons) and stir well. Pass it through a fine sieve and set the liquid aside.
Cut the 2 onions into 4 big chunks.
Crack and remove the outer shell of the ehu then grind with a dry mill eg coffee grinder.
Pound the pepper with a mortar and set aside.
Cook the goat head with the chunks of onion, the stock cubes and as little water as possible. Top up the water as necessary but make sure there is as little water as possible in the pot. This is because we do not want any stock in the pot when the meat is done. Remember to cook the brain too.
While the meat is cooking, slice the onion for garnishing into thin rings.
Cut half of the utazi into thin slices. Cut the other half into tiny pieces. The first will be used for garnishing while the latter will be added into the palm oil paste.
When the meat is done, remove the chunks of onion, take out the brain and mash it up till smooth.
Add salt, stir and cook till all the water has dried.
Set the meat aside to cool down.
Now, pour the palm oil into a clean dry pot.
Pour in the potash mixture (sieved) into the oil.
Stir with a wooden spatula as you pour the potash. You’ll notice the palm oil begin to curdle and turn yellow. Keep stiring till all the oil has turned yellow. Use as little potash as possible because too much of it can upset your stomach.
Add the pepper, mashed brain, ehu seeds and the utazi that has been cut to tiny pieces. Stir very well till they are all incorporated.
Add the goat head to the palm oil paste and stir very well with a wooden spatula.
Put it back on the stove/cooker and heat till the Isi Ewu is piping hot.
Serve the Isi Ewu in a wooden mortar as shown in the image above.
Garnish with the thin slices of utazi and onion rings for the full effects.