The Pretend Chef

fiofio Pigeon peas

sweet, nutty, earthy, fiofio pigeon peas with vegetables

Fiofio Pigeon peas, a legume enjoyed in Africa, Asia and parts of South America. It is variously called Fiofio or Agbugbu in Igbo, Otili in Yoruba, Aduwa in Hausa is also called, Gungo peas in Jamaica and mbaazi in Kenya.

Pigeon pea has a sweet, mildly nutty and earthy flavour. It is delicious, hearty and very filling. The only downside to it is the length of time it takes to cook. If other types of beans take a yard to cook, pigeon peas take a mile! But… this can be shortened by using a pressure pot, in the absence of which, you give it a long overnight soak.

Fiofio pigeon peas is a good vegetarian dish, well balanced, healthy and excellent for weight watchers too. It is highly proteinous. Even when food prices skyrocket in local markets, the price of Fiofio is always within the reach of most people, therefore, it is a cheap and valuable source of protein to a lot of people.

It is sold as street food mixed with roasted or boiled cubes of yam, Ugba and utazi or anala vegetable. It can be served alongside rice, yam or plantains.

sweet, nutty, earthy, fiofio pigeon peas with vegetables

They come in a wide range of colours, from white to almost black, the most common in Nigeria being white and brown.

brown fiofio for fiofio pigeon peas  white fiofio for fiofio pigeon peas

To cook Fiofio pigeon peas:

2 cups Fiofio
1/4 cup palm oil
1 large onions (1 cup sliced)
1 scotch bonnet, chopped (fresh pepper)
2 seasoning cubes
1 teaspoon salt

Optional accompaniments:

yam, cubed 
Achicha (precooked and dried cocoyam) 

Pick out any grits and dirt from the fiofio. Wash and drain.

Place in a bowl and cover with water.

Leave to soak for 6-8 hours or overnight.

If you are using a pressure pot, then there will be no need for a presoak.

fiofio soaked in water for fiofio pigeon peas

Drain the soaking liquid and place pigeon peas in a pot.

Add about 6 cups of water and boil till the peas are tender. Add extra water if needed.

Take one seed and crush between your fingers to check how soft it is. Do not boil till it is mushy.

Drain into a bowl and mash using a potato masher, small pestle or a fork, leaving some seeds whole.

fiofio mshd-1

Pour mashed beans back into the pot.

You can reserve the liquid drained from boiling the beans for boiling the yam or rice.

In a dry skillet or frying pan, heat up palm oil, do not bleach.

Add onions, pepper, seasoning cube and salt.

onions and chopped pepper frying in palm oil for fiofio pigeon peas

Saute till onions have softened but not caramelised, no colouring.

onion slices frying in palm oil for fiofio pigeon peas

Pour this sauce into the mashed fiofio, stir to mix.

At this stage, you can add your boiled yam and a little more palm oil if needed. Fiofio is not palm oil shy at all.

mashed fiofio mixed with palm oil and onions, fiofio pigeon peas

Serve your Fiofio pigeon peas with yam, plantain, rice, sweet potatoes etc.


  • If you do not have or like palm oil, you can use any other oil of your choice.
  • Use any green salad as a side to your pigeon peas.


You will also enjoy my Achicha (Dry cocoyam), Adalu (Beans and corn porridge), Jamaican rice and peas and Ukwa porridge (African breadfruit porridge).

Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below. 

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  1. Gingey Bites
    September 7, 2016

    I’ve heard of these but have never tried them. Love the idea of street food and would like to try them one day!

    • gaga
      September 9, 2016

      Hi Gingey Bites, you should actually try them, totally delicious

  2. Udy
    March 29, 2016

    U r right. Very popular here in India. All sorts of legumes here. Called dahl. I’ll be making it soon.

    • gaga
      March 29, 2016

      Udy Please do make it. Dahls are generally very healthy food.

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