When you want to talk about Igbo delicacies, it doesn't get more igbo than isi ewu (spicy goat head). From traditional marriages, to chieftaincy titles to welcoming special guests, Isi Ewu must be present.
The truth is that this recipe is much easier than a lot of people think, you just need to have the specific ingredients.
1 Large Goat Head
1 Cup Palm Oil
1 Tablespoon Ground Potash (Akaun)
1 Tablespoon Cameroun Pepper (or Ground Scotch Bonnet/Habanero Pepper)
1 Teaspoon Ground Ehuru (Calabash Nutmeg)
2 Tablespoons Ground Crayfish
3 Seasoning Cubes
1 Medium Onion
2 Cups of Ugba (Oil Bean Seed)
Utazi Leaf (Optional)
When you buy your goat head, the butcher will break it down for you, and (unless you indicate otherwise) tie up the brain for you in a little bag. You DO NOT wash the brain!
Wash your goat head thoroughly as it tends to be quite sandy, i like to use salt water and a sponge. I also use the blunt back of a knife to scrape the skin. After washing, transfer it into a pot, together with the bagged up brain and season with salt, pepper, chopped onions and pepper. Don't worry about the brain in the bag, it wont burst and will cook through. (If you are squeamish, you don't have to add the brain to your recipe, it won't affect your outcome). Cook until tender (25 minutes in a pressure cooker or 40 minutes in a regular pot).
Tip 1: The goat head will still have a lot of the skull which could be very smooth and sharp and could cut you if you try to pry meat off it. Cook your meat first, then easily separate the meat from the bone.
While the goat head is cooking, prep your remaining ingredients.
Roast your ehuru in a dry pan until fragrant, gently use the tip of a sharp knife to peel off the outer burnt casing and grind the inside of the seed.
For this recipe, you MUST have ehuru! Not having it is like attempting to make Ofada Stew without Dawadawa (Locust Beans). Also, you cannot skip the roasting step, if you do, the essence/flavor of the ehuru will not come out. Luckily, you can buy ground ehuru in the stores now.
Set aside your ground ehuru.
Dissolve your potash in a quarter cup of water and mix properly. Set aside.
When the meat is cooked, take it out of the stock and separate as much of the flesh as you can from the bone. Transfer the brain into a small bowl.
Pour palm oil into a large bowl or pot (i used my wok because my goat head was huge!), pour in potash and stir until the oil goes from reddish orange to a yellow orange shade and thickens in consistency
Tip 2: You do not want to overdo the potash, or you and your toilet will be besties for the next 24 hours as potash is a very potent laxative.
Add seasoning cube, crayfish, cooked goat brain, ehuru, salt and pepper in to the bowl/pot and mix/mash up as you go.
Next up, is your ugba. Mix it up properly.
Finally add your goat head and mix it up till it is completely coated in the sauce.
Taste for seasoning.
Serve up with sliced onions and utazi leaf (if you please, personally, i find it to bitter so it is missing from my plate).