Ewa Agoyin and Agoyin Stew
Ewa Agoyin or Agoyin beans is a delicacy of the Agoyin people from the Republic of Benin. It is a combination of very soft mashed up beans and a spicy pepper sauce. Ewa Agoyin is very popular in Lagos, Nigeria and its environs and is usually hawked by Agoyin and Togolese women. I had to learn how to make Ewa Agoyin because it is not sold where I live. My Agoyin friend Bose, who also hawks ewa agoyin taught me well.
Oloyin beans (Honey beans) is the beans of choice though you can use black eyed beans too. The stew is made with dry large chilli pepper, not the tiny ones and dry shombo or alternatively dry tatashe. Cameroun pepper adds to the flavour and dark colour of the stew but don’t stress over it if it’s not readily available. Bose also showed me how to cook fresh pepper Agoyin stew for those who cannot source the dry ingredients. It still hits all the right notes.
These peppers need to be fried long enough to get the dry texture and dark colour of Agoyin stew yet avoid burning. The trick for a home cook is to fry gently over low heat and stir often. It will take time but it will taste right. If you rush it, you stand the risk of burning your agoyin stew and giving it a bitter taste. The quantity of oil is a lot but it makes it easier to fry the peppers without burning. I usually drain off the oil and use it for other purposes. See my notes in Nigerian Tomato stew base.
Ewa Agoyin and Agoyin stew are served with bread (especially agege bread), fried plantain, yam and fish, the stew is also delicious with rice and boiled sweet potato.
To prepare Ewa Agoyin and Agoyin Stew
3 cups beans (Oloyin/honey beans) 2 cups dry whole chilli pepper 8-10 pieces dry shombo (cayenne pepper) 2 cameroun pepper 2 small onions (200g) 1 inch fresh ginger 5 cloves garlic 1/2 cup ground crayfish 3 cups palm oil 1 small onion (100g), sliced 4 seasoning cubes salt
To cook Agoyin Beans
Pick the beans through to remove debris.
Wash and put in a pot, add enough water to cover the beans well.
Boil until tender, adding more water as needed. Use a pressure pot if you have one.
When the beans are soft, add about 1 cup of water and some salt, then give it another stretch of boiling to achieve that agoyin softness.
Take off the heat.
Using a wooden spoon, mash and stir the beans to turn it into a thick puree. You can use a potato masher to mash it and then stir very well with a wooden spoon or use a hand mixer.
Add about 1 cup of water, stir and boil for 3-5 minutes and the beans is ready. This will prevent it from being dry or going sour.
This needs more mashing.
To cook Agoyin Stew
Rinse and soak dry whole chilli pepper, shombo and Cameroun pepper in water overnight or in boiling water for 2 hours until soft. Use just enough water to cover them.
Prepare the other ingredients.
In a blender, place 2 small onions, peppers, peeled ginger and garlic, add the soaking liquid and grind into a puree. Set aside.
Heat palm oil in a dry pot until very hot, add sliced onions and fry until it floats on top and starts to caramelize, turning brown.
Pour pepper mix into the hot oil, add crayfish and seasoning cubes, stir.
Reduce the heat and fry until it dries stirring very often about 30 minutes or more.
Taste for salt and sourness, take off the heat.
Serve with agonyi beans.
- Fry your peppers gently over medium-low heat to avoid burning stirring from time to time.
- To cut down on cooking time, fry over high heat but stir very often because the likelihood of burning is high.
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