How To Make Pounded Yam and Egusi Soup

Pounded yam is a meal native to the people of Nigeria. This meal is common among the Yoruba and middle-belt regions of the country. Recently, it has grown to be one of the most loved local dishes by the Nigerian people. 

It is a smooth dough-like staple made from yam and is often referred to as “swallow.” This is because it is one of those meals you can eat without chewing. Hence, it is safe to give toddlers. The meal is paired with a soup side dish. A common combination is the one of pounded yam and egusi soup. 

Egusi is the product of cooking dried and blended melon seeds with vegetables and spices. It is also a widely loved Nigerian dish. Many Nigerians believe it is an ideal side for pounded yam. 

For making the pounded yam, any yam can be used. But the yam most preferred by locals is the puna yam or the African yam. This yam is usually white and gives the meal its bright white color when pounded. 

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Apart from being a savory dish, pounded yam contains many complex carbohydrates and fibers that boost energy supply and digestive health. Contrary to popular belief, pounded yam also contains a low amount of calories, making it a healthy choice for weight loss. 

Egusi, on the other hand, is a vitamin bank. It contains the vitamins A, B1, and B2, essential for healthy bones and teeth, and blood formation, respectively. Some research has been done to show that the food also improves serum and lipid profiles. 

There are different styles employed by different people to prepare pounded yam and egusi soup. Nevertheless, regardless of the cooking style, the same ingredients and techniques are usually employed. 

Pounded yam 

To prepare a bowl of pounded yam, you would need a tuber of yam (African yam) and some salt. The first step to making the pounded yam is to cut up the yam into chunky pieces and peel the bark. The yam is preferably diced. If you notice any spot or discoloration, gently peel off that part with your knife. Leave the yam pieces in water until you are sure you are ready to boil them. 

For cutting, a chef’s knife is good, but you may want to switch to the paring knife while peeling to prevent harming yourself with the knife. The next step is to place the pre-rinsed yam pieces into a pot and add sufficient water to boil it. Depending on the quantity of yam being cooked, half a teaspoon to a full teaspoon of salt is used. 

The yam is ready for pounding once the yam is boiled sufficiently to softness. While draining the water left in the pot, keep a little of the water aside. It becomes useful in the pounding process.   

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Pounding the yam

There are two ways of achieving this. Some people prefer to go the more traditional way by employing the use of a mortar and pestle. Others prefer using a food processor (otherwise called a yam pounder)

There is a school of thought that believes pounded yam made in a mortar has greater supremacy than the one made by the food processor. But this is just personal preference. Any way used to achieve that smooth consistency is a good way of making pounded yam 

Using mortar and pestle

To use the mortar and pestle for your pounded yam, place the pieces of the yam in the mortar in portions. Adding them all at once could affect the consistency of the pounded yam. 

Next, pound the yam pieces with great force to ensure homogeneity. After a period of pounding, the pounded lumps begin to stick to the tip of the pestle. Dipping the tip into a bowl of water will give it a smooth texture. 

When you are done pounding all the yam pieces, add the little yam water (water reserved from cooking the yam) into the pounded yam and pound again. This ensures it has a fluffy and soft outcome.

N.B: Wooden mortar and pestle are used. 

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Using a food processor 

The stress of using a mortar and pestle for pounded yam can be overwhelming. Practically speaking, the mortar-and-pestle format is most suitable for occasional preparation. 

Using the food processor is more convenient and less time-consuming. The yam pieces are placed inside the food processor, and the water reserved from boiling the yam is added. Only a tiny amount of water is added just to aid the blending process. 

Start the blending and pulse your food processor every twenty seconds until complete homogeneity is achieved. If the pounded yam turns out a bit lumpy or hard, you can troubleshoot it by adding more of the water and blending further.  

A blender will work fine if you do not have a food processor. The same procedure is carried out, only that this time around, the yam pieces should be added in batches to ensure the blender is not overcrowded.

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Instant pounded yam flour

If you would rather bypass the process of boiling the yam and then pounding it, options like powdered instant pounded yam flour are available. 

Boil some water in a pot. About three cups of water will do for every one cup of the flour. Once the water begins to boil, reduce the heat and add flour. As you add the flour to the water, ensure you stir the mix consistently, preferably with a wooden spoon. Continue with this until a thick lump is formed. 

Add a little more water (about one-quarter of a cup) to the lump and mix gently if you prefer your pounded yam to be softer. 

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To prepare egusi soup, the following ingredients are needed: ground melon, sliced ugu (pumpkin) leaves, iru (locust beans), stock fish, pomo (cow skin), small pieces of meat, onions, palm oil, salt and seasoning. 

Two methods can be used to prepare egusi soup: the frying method and the boiling method. For the frying method, the ground melon-seed paste is added to the palm oil before the other ingredients are added.  

For the boiling method, all the other ingredients are added to the palm oil before adding the liquid-like mix of the grounded melon seed and water. 

To complete this delightful meal, proteins of your choice should be added. Chicken? Fish? Your call!

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Helpful cooking tips

Wash the instruments used to prepare the pounded yam immediately. Otherwise, soak them in water until you are ready. This is to prevent the residue from the preparation from getting stuck to the instruments, making it difficult to wash. 

Pounded yam is best enjoyed when it is hot. Serve while hot, or place it in a food warmer until you are ready to serve it 

It is best to pound the yam as soon as it is done boiling. At this stage, it is still as soft as possible. Once it begins to get exposed to air, it starts to harden. 

Pounded yam can be kept in the fridge for up to three days before going sour. The egusi soup can be kept for longer, especially with consistent reheating. 

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Pounded Yam

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  • Author: TSJ
  • Total Time: 40mins
  • Yield: pounded yam


Learn to make one of the famous swallow in Nigeria! 


– Half a tuber of African Yam

– Half a teaspoon of salt

– Water to boil yam chunks ( 2 cups) 


1, Commence by the cutting yam pieces into smaller chunks, but peel off the back first

2. Then boil your yam chunks till they are soft enough to pound 

3. Remove your yam from the water used to boil

4. Set about half a cup at the yam water aside for pounding 

5. If you are going the mortar and pestle way, add your yam in bits and pour in your yam water to ease the process, then pound till the yam forms well with no lumps

6. If you are going the food processor way, you can add your yam cubes all at once, followed by the yam water and pulse a few times till well formed. 

5. Scoop out your pounded yam, and serve with any soup of your choice. 



  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: TSJ’s food recipe
  • Method: pounding/ with food processor
  • Cuisine: Local


  • Serving Size: 3 adults

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