Whether in Nigeria, Ghana or Cameroon, garden egg stew is a favourite in West Africa. Some people like to cook it with koobi (Ghanaian salted, dried fish), some like it with smoked mackerel, while others prefer it without added protein. However you like it, this oven-roasted garden egg cooked in a spicy tomato sauce is flavourful and very easy to make. Roasting concentrates the flavours and prevents nutrients from leaching into the boiling water.
African garden egg is a very versatile fruit cooked and eaten as a side sauce with a lot of starchy foods. Yam and garden egg sauce is a popular breakfast in the Western parts of Nigeria, but the sauce is versatile and can be eaten with cocoyam and boiled plantain. It also goes well with sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes and rice.
I added fresh prawns as additional protein to my African garden egg stew recipe, but you can skip this to make it vegetarian.
What Is African Garden Egg?
Is Garden Egg the same as Eggplant? Garden egg, is an egg-shaped or sometimes round fruit that originated from Africa and is widely eaten across the region. The colour ranges from white to green, and occasionally purple; while some varieties are striped. African garden is also sometimes called eggplant. It is botanically related to the more popular purple eggpplant (aubergine), which originated from Asia. However, they are smaller, and can be eaten raw, unlike aubergine.
I have heard people call it the Nigerian eggplant. However, it is also eaten in other African countries. It is called “igba” in Yoruba, “akwuko anara” or “efo igbo” in Igbo, “ganyen gauta” in Hausa, “nyadua” in Twi and “njacatu” in Cameroon..
Garden egg can be eaten raw as a snack – it tastes fantastic with peanut or peanut butter. It is highly valued for its earthy flavours and spongy texture, which makes it great at absorbing flavours. Eggplant fruit is used for different stews and sauces across West Africa. The leaf of garden egg plant is an essential vegetable in some African countries and is consumed in a cooked form in soups and sauces too
This article has more information about African garden egg, if you would like to know more.
Garden Egg Stew Recipe
Here are the ingredients you need...
- Garden eggs
- Curry powder
- Smoked paprika
- Pepper flakes
- Chopped tomatoes
- King prawns
A few notes about the ingredients...
African Garden eggs: I used white garden eggs because I found some at my local market. You can use the green or purple varieties depending on what is available. If you were like me a few years ago and did not have access to any African garden eggs varieties, then you can use aubergine/eggplant as a substitute.
Oil: I used sunflower oil for this recipe. You can substitute with red palm oil if you prefer. This is the traditional oil used for Nigerian garden sauce. Just heat it gently for around two minutes before adding the onions.
Fresh thyme: You can substitute with one teaspoon of dry thyme. As a rule of thumb, substitute fresh herbs with half of its dry version.
How To Make It
Preheat the oven to 220 0C.
Line a baking pan with foil to stop the garden egg from sticking to the pan. Cut the stalks off the garden eggs, cut them into half and place on the baking pan. Sprinkle some salt and cover with foil to prevent drying out—place in the oven.
Allow to cook for around 15 mins. By which time, the colour should be light brownish and the fruits soft enough to be mashed. Bring out of the oven and pour in a bowl.
Use a potato masher or fork to mash the garden eggs properly. You can pulse in a food processor or blender to make it quicker.
While the garden eggs are still in the oven, heat the oil in a pan under medium heat.
Add the onions and cook until translucent.
Pour in the garlic, curry powder, smoked paprika and pepper flakes.
Stir continuously for 30 secs to allow the flavours to develop.
Add chopped tomatoes and thyme. Cover the pan and allow to simmer for 10 mins. Stir a few times to prevent sticking.
Add the prawns and the mashed garden eggs with some salt. Mix well and cover the pan for another 5 mins under low heat.
Remove from heat and serve.
Recipe FAQ and Notes
Garden egg sauce is traditionally prepared by boiling and mashing the fruits. Oven roasting gives a more intense depth of flavour but should not stop you from enjoying this sauce. If you don’t have an oven, prepare the garden egg the same way as above, but boil in salted water for about 5 mins. Remove from water and mash.
Most African or Asian shops will have at least one variety of garden egg on shelves in the UK.
Other delicious stews and sauces to try!
Oven Roasted Garden Egg Stew With Prawns.
- Preheat the oven to 220 °C.
- Line a baking pan with foil to stop the garden egg from sticking. Cut the stalks off the garden eggs, cut into half and place on the baking pan. Sprinkle some salt and cover with foil.
- Place into the oven.
- Allow to cook for around 15 mins.
- Bring out of the oven and pour in a bowl. Use a potato masher or fork to mash the garden eggs properly.
- While the garden eggs are in the oven, heat up the oil in a pan under medium heat.
- Add the onions and cook until translucent.
- Pour in the garlic, curry powder, smoked paprika and pepper flakes. Stir continuously for 30 secs.
- Add chopped tomatoes and thyme. Cover the pan and allow to simmer for 10 mins. Stir a few times to prevent sticking.
- Add the prawns and the mashed garden eggs with some salt. Mix well and cover the pan for another 5 mins under low heat
- Remove from heat.