Efo Riro

Efo Riro

Last weekend we co-hosted a meetup with our friends at CookTour. I had the opportunity to share a little bit about Nigerian cuisine as well as do a live demonstration of a dish. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I've never cooked in front of people that I don't already know, but it was a great experience. The attendees asked lots of questions, helped out in the kitchen and best of all they liked the food. Win win for my first cooking demo if I do say so myself.

For the class I decided to share two staple Nigerian dishes.  Jollof rice and Efo Riro. I made the Jollof rice beforehand so folks could snack on and demo-ed the Efo in class. I chose Efo for several reasons. One, it doesn’t take a long time to cook (depending on your meat of choice). Two, most of the ingredients are readily available compared to other Nigerian dishes. Three its relatively easy to make on your own.

A few things to note, I couldn’t find iru (locust beans) so I made the dish without it. Iru adds a special flavor but your Efo can still be delicious without it. If you do have access to Iru, go for it. I did not use stock/dry fish. I am not a huge fan of it, plus it's not easily accessible in the Seattle area. Lastly, Efo is great with any kind of meat. Chicken, beef, goat meat, oxtail, or a combination, take your pick. I used beef in the recipe below, but feel free to choose whatever tickles your fancy.

Thanks to all the folks that came out, it was a fun intimate Saturday afternoon! And thanks to Julia and Edgar from Cooktour for making this happen. If you haven't heard about Cooktour, they are a Seattle-based, international grocery store company. They are all about providing you with the necessary ingredients to make a meal that takes you on a journey to another country/city. They have meal kits as well as online cooking classes and recently launched their Thai Cuisine Cooktour with Chef Som Kesa. Check out their website to learn more.

Where to Get Ingredients in the Seattle Area

Palm Oil - Trader Joe's or Whole foods. It's usually sold in a jar. For more bang for your buck, you can get some from the West African Market in Hillman City

Iru - West African Market. Iru goes by many names, when at the store, ask for Iru/Locust Beans/Dawa dawa. Call it one of those names and fingers crossed they should have it in stock.

Dried, Ground Crayfish - West African Market. A good substitute for this is to use dried shrimp which you can get from the Asian grocery store.

Maggi - International aisle of any grocery store. Usually next to the Latin American food items.

African Cayenne - World Spice Merchants in Pike Place Market.


Efo Riro

Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 30 mins to an hour+  (depending on your choice of meat) 


3lbs stew beef (or any meat of your choice)

2 cubes Maggi

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon African Cayenne

1 bundle fresh spinach (rinsed, de-stemmed and chopped)

2 bundles fresh collard greens (rinsed, de-stemmed and chopped)

1/2 red onion (diced)

4 red bell peppers

1-2 habaneros (optional)

1 tablespoon red palm oil

1 tablespoon dry ground crayfish (crawfish)

2 tablespoons iru



1. In a pot add beef, maggi, salt, pepper and water and bring to a boil. Cook beef till tender or when a fork can go through it, about an hour.

Note: Once cooked, you should have about 1/2 -3/4 cups of stock for the Efo. If you find you didn't add enough water in the beginning and the stock is drying up, don't be afraid to add more. You want your beef to be nice and tender.

2. While beef is cooking, rinse, de-stem and chop the spinach and collard greens. Place chopped vegetables in a bowl and put aside. Dice onion and set aside.

3. Chop and de-seed bell peppers and roughly blend with habaneros.

Note: Be careful of adding too much water to activate the blending process. If your blender can purée the peppers without added water, forgo adding it. If you happen to add too much water, no worries, just make sure to to boil off the water in a separate pot before proceeding to the next step.

4. Once beef is cooked, heat up an empty pot/saute pan on medium heat. Once hot, add red palm oil and onions. Sauté till onion starts to become translucent, about 1-2 mins.

5. Add pepper puree to pan and fry till there is no more water. Add crayfish and iru (if you have it). Stir.

6. Add cooked beef and stir till all the beef is coated with sauce. You may add 1/2 to 3/4 beef stock at this point for more sauciness and added flavor.

7. Add chopped vegetables and cover pan to let steam, about 1 min. It makes the vegetables easier to mix. Stir everything together till you have a nice distribution of sauce, vegetables and meat in the sauce pan. Reduce heat to a simmer.

8. Add salt for taste if necessary. Stir well. Let simmer for 3-5 mins.

9. Enjoy!