Efo riro – rich vegetable stew

Efo riro – rich vegetable stew – A typical Yoruba dish made with green vegetables, peppers and assorted parts of meat, dried fish, fried snails, etc.

The first time I ate Efo riro was at Bristol University thanks to Toyo, his grandmother always stocked his freezer with bowls and bowls of food and I always helped myself. Ha ha I met him at Bristol, even though he liked to demo (pose), he became my friend family friend just like that.

I guess I didn’t eat efo riro growing up in Lagos because I am not Yoruba and it just wasn’t a dish that we ever made at home. Funny enough not even in Vivian Fowler boarding house, I remember fried rice, scrambled eggs, cornflakes on visiting Sundays and on other days; white rice and stew, eba &  egusi, amala & ewedu but for some reason I don’t remember Efo riro (VF girls please feel free to correct me if I am wrong).

Anyway post Bristol, I always craved Efo and would always think of Toyo’s Nan but as she’s 102 years old, fear did not allow me do ‘cute face’ and request her Efo when I am not her child. Instead I would wait until my annual pilgrimage to Lagos; order efo with assorted and plenty moin moin from Delta Kitchen that purged me every single day until I left. I still don’t understand why efo in Lagos purges me and efo in London doesn’t, are the Lagos vegetables fresher, more organic or is my tummy just sensitive to the less hygienic cooking environment or perhaps it is just the deadly combination of moin moin (bean cakes) and Efo riro (fresh vegetable stew), I don’t know the answer and it hasn’t stopped me from eating my efo riro in Lagos.

I actually tried to make Efo riro a number of times but I knew deep inside that my Efo riro was an imposter. So I decided not to make it again until a bonafide Yoruba indigene took me through the steps. I asked aunty B to teach me but in the meantime to satisfy my craving I ordered efo riro from one of those Nigerian restaurants canteens and was so disappointed that I decided to try again using 9jafoodie’s recipe and oh la la I no longer need lessons from aunty B. I am so impressed as I had tried different recipes on different food blogs but this one totally killed it.

Apparently the unique taste of efo riro comes from the use of Locust beans, Bleaching of palm oil and the absence of tomatoes…. 9jafoodie. So why do other people include tomatoes in their recipe????

See recipe below – I only made a few changes, I didn’t add iru (locust beans) because I didn’t have any and it stinks.

I already had to deal with stinky stockfish, tripe and cowleg and H2 was already complaining that I was stinking up the kitchen and corridor. I also used smoked chicken from waitrose – oh la la. This smoked chicken is the ish – blogging topic for another day.

I didn’t bleach the palmoil as V1 being a doctor et al turns her noses up at me when I use palmoil and she has ban me from bleaching the oil and it makes the oil even more unhealthy.

Recipe: Yoruba Style Efo Riro (adapted from 9jafoodie.com)


Part A

  • 3 Red bell peppers
  • 1 medium onion bulb
  • 2 Scotch Bonnet

Preparation: Combine all of Part A in a blender. Puree until almost smooth. Pour the mixture into a pot, place on medium heat and boil until dried

Part B

  • 1 cup of palm oil
  • 1 medium onion bulb (thinly sliced)
  • 2 Tablespoon blended crayfish
  • 2 cups stock fish (washed and de-boned and cooked)
  • Smoked chicken breast, cowleg, tripe, snails, etc
  • 2 tablespoons whole locust beans (Iru) – optional
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cube knorr cubes

Part C

  • 500g of chopped fresh spinach

Preparation: If using fresh spinach, place the spinach in a bowl, add ½ teaspoon of salt, cover with boiling water and place a lid over the bowl. Allow to rest for 15-20mins. Rinse out the spinach and squeeze out all excess water.


  • Place a large pot over medium heat, add in the palm oil. Heat the oil for 2 minutes.
  • Add in the sliced onions and fry until lightly browned
  • Add in the end result of part A and the left over ingredients in part B. Cover and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes (The palm oil will float to the top when the sauce is ready).
  • Add in the spinach, combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning, leave to simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • Drain the excess oil if you want to be extra! Healthy!



19 thoughts on “Efo riro – rich vegetable stew

  1. Hello MV, u a such a fantastic writer. Thank God you are gaining another mummy who is very good in cooking Effo riro. Happy New year again.
    Mummy Ogudu

  2. V, I remember you promised me this when I was preggers, the child is almost walking so I believe it’s time for restitution…😀..looks awesome!!

  3. That efo looks delish!! I am too scared to make efo without locust beans. I love the smell and taste… i can eat it by itself (dont judge me!). plus cow leg… and smoked turkey.. smoked turkey is amazing as well! never tried smokeed chicken sha… but sounds delicious! welldone! Where do you find snail?!

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