OGIRI: The African Secret Cooking Ingredient

Ogiri- Food Ingredient. WE JACKSONITES
Ogiri. Photo Credit: digest.bellafricana.com

African women take much pride in their culinary skills, a trend which exists till this day; in fact, it is seen as a sort of taboo for a typical African society lady to confess that she cannot cook or worse, that she cannot prepare any local African dishes. For them, cooking is done not just for the sake of it as it’s a skill which places real women above girls; that the mastery beauty of the act and that “all important asset” can win the hearts of kings.

Whenever you taste African meals, most especially soups, prepared by Nigerian women, you cannot help but a particular distinct flavour. Now you may be wondering just what gives these soups this distinct flavour judging that of course all the ingredients in them come together to make a delicious mix. The truth is that there is this tinsy-winsy condiment that adds that extra touch of flavouring, that extra something to the whole 


Ogiri is a generic name used to refer to a group of local African seasonings. The term is most associated to be of Igbo Origin and adopted across different lands across Nigeria.  Much difference lies in the mix, while the uses and even the unmistakable pungent smell basically the same. The seasoning is made from several  fermented seeds. The various types of Ogiri derive their names from their particular regions of origin and because of the particular types of seeds used in preparing them. For example, the Ogiri-Igbo, is of two types: the one made exclusively from castor oils seeds (Kpikpi) and the one made form combining melon seeds (egwusi) and castor oil seeds. Another type is the Ogiri-Ijebu, originally from Yoruba land and made from fermented egusi seeds.

Also Read: How to Cook Beans and Plantain Pottage

For the Igbo women in East-Central Nigeria, Ogiri is not only a precious commodity, but also a crucial ingredient used in the preparation of famed soups like Oha spoup, Egwusi soup and Onugbu (Bitter Leaf) soup. It is also used according to preference to prepare Okra and Ogbono soups. And just in case you are about to forget, it is used in the preparing of the ever graceful and delicious Abacha (African Salad), especially the “Abacha Ncha or Iwu” popular around Orumba-Oji-Isuochi regions of Anambra, Enugu and Abia States.

Abacha/Iwu (African Salad). Photo Credit: dobbyssignature.com

How is Ogiri Made?

The Process of from beginning is not at all ambiguous. To get your ogiri prepared, simply follow the following steps.

  1. Get some cups of castor oil seed or a combination with egusi seed. Make sure they are well picked and ready.
  2. Boil the castor oil seeds or its combination with egusi seeds until very soft.
  3. Wrap tightly in banana leaves and leave to ferment in large dry  pots for about five days.
  4. After fermentation, smoke for about 2 hours and marsh into an oily paste using mortar and pestle. The oily baste is usually dark gray in colour.

Ogiri comes in two varieties- the fresh ones which are characterised by a very pungent smell and in most cases more desirable than the dry type which are more solid and less pungent. However, the dry ones are better stored than the fresh ones. Depending on what you need Ogiri for and when you intend to use it, these two varieties are readily available and would still give the desired result.

In a world where many factory produced seasonings are flooding the market on a daily bases, the uniqueness of Ogiri continues to standout not just because it’s 100% natural and medicinal, but also because of its power to recipes into delicious foods.

See Soups made with Ogiri Below:

Egusi soup with Akpu (cassava fufu)
Egusi soup. Credit: Dobbys Signaturer
Well garnished Bitter Leaf Soup. Credit: IQ Food platter
ofe-onugbu-recipe WE JACKSONITES
Bitter leaf Soup and eba. Credit: Afrolems

9 thoughts on “OGIRI: The African Secret Cooking Ingredient

  1. That’s indeed wonderful job by Toledo keep it up. Indeed Ogiri is natural ingredient that will add great taste and aroma to your meal


    1. Of course it is @Ijeoma. It depends on the region you are coming from. Castor oil seed is grown in large quantities in Anambra, so it’s very much combined with egusi seeds to prepare ogiri.
      I still remember my grandmother’s technics.


  2. Well, I think only those from Anambra n other Easthern states sha…… can relate to this n its Importance in cocoyam soups.
    Better leaf n oha soup without ogiri shows d cook is not from Igbo land.
    Nice one bro
    U still need to teach them how to use it

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s