Efo Riro….In All Its Glory!

Efo Riro needs no introduction as it’s one of the most popular vegetable soups in Nigeria and an absolute favourite of the Yorubas. It’s quite an easy dish to prepare, as long as you follow the major instructions and requirements.

A major rule is; using tomatoes for Efo Riro is an absolute No No! All you need to use are Bell peppers and Scotch bonnets. Definitely no tomatoes!

Also, to get the best out of Efo Riro, you need to use Palm Oil. Some people use vegetable oil though but I’m yet to eat any that’s made with vegetable oil that has wowed me.For me, I’ll say Palm Oil all the way! If you’ve got health concerns or allergies which limits your Palm Oil consumption, then feel free to use your preferred cooking oil.

Efo Riro doesn’t need too much seasoning, curry, thyme or white pepper are unnecessary. All it needs to thrive is very rich beef/chicken stock, this means you need to properly season your meats as the stock is what really determines the outcome. I hardly add seasoning to it during the cooking process, I just rely on the stock….and my ever faithful Knorr Chicken Cubes.

If you’re using Spinach; which is very common, ensure you get rid of practically all the water in it before adding, failure to do this will produce limp and soggy Efo Riro.

Also, try to use as much assorted meats as you possibly can, the more the variety, the better. Another tip is to fry your meats lightly, this helps to firm up the meat and also improves the appearance and taste of your Efo Riro.

Now, let’s cook.


2 bunches Ugwu leaves ( you can also use Spinach or Soko)
3 medium /2 big size bell peppers (Tatashe)
11/2scotch bonnet (Rodo)
1/2 cup Palm Oil
11/2 medium size red onions
Assorted meats of your choice (Shaki, Kpomo, cow leg, smoked turkey or beef are ideal)
Dried stockfish (Panla)
Smoked cat fish
1 tablespoon Locust beans (Iru)
1/2 cup raw/cooked prawns (Optional)
1/4 cup smoked prawns (Optional)
2 Knorr chicken cubes or any bullion cubes of your choosing.
3 tablespoons ground Crayfish
Salt to taste


First, get your core ¬†ingredients ready. Efo Riro is a fast cooking dish, so you’ll need to be proactive.image

imageNow, season the meats, add sliced onions and boil on medium heat. Remember to boil the tougher meats first, then add the softer ones. Just before it’s fully cooked, add the Stockfish, boil till tender and set aside.

Sorry, I haven’t got photos of the meat prep process cos I usually boil my meats in bulk and store for future use.

Wash your vegetables thoroughly with hot water to rid it of all traces of dirt, be careful not to in soak in hot water for too long so as to retain the nutrients. Slice or chop according to your preference and set aside.image

Blend the scotch bonnets and bell peppers and an onion coarsely and set aside…image
Into a large pot, add the palm oil, leave to heat up on medium heat for 2 minutes ….imageThen add onions, fry till fragrant.image
Then add the locust beans, fry to release the flavour for another minute….image
Now add the blended pepper and two Knorr cubes, let that fry for 15-20 minutes thereabouts or until the pepper dries out and the size reduces by almost half….imageThe consistency should be thick as pictured below….image
Add a bit of the meat stock/ chicken stock, if you haven’t got stock, just add water, be careful not to add too much. Just one cup should do.image
Let it boil for 2-3 minutes to combine, then add the assorted meats, prawns, crayfish, stockfish and catfish.
Combine and taste, adjust seasoning if required. Leave to cook for a further 10 minutes.image
Now add the washed vegetables, combine thoroughly…image
Switch off the heat at this time, leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes with the residual heat and it’s ready.Efo Riro Serve with any “swallow” of your choice. Efo Riro is also prefect with white rice, boiled yam and plantain.Efo Riro


Do remember to give me a feedback if you try my recipe for Efo Riro and feel free to use the “Share” button below. Enjoy!

42 thoughts on “Efo Riro….In All Its Glory!

  1. Helo MA, can I use green n wateeleaf…. Can I also use dawadaw instead cos I can’t find iru here… Tnkx for sharing ma

    • Hi, yes you can use Green. Water leaf as well but remember water leaf has quite a lot of water contents and is also a tad slimy. If you don’t mind these then feel free to use but i wouldn’t, TBH. Yes, you can use Dawadawa.

  2. All I can say is thank you. I’ve never made efo riro in my life until now. I was thinking of how to go about it as my hubby is Yoruba and I’m Igbo and then I stumbled on your blog.
    I followed the process,step by step and it came out perfectly fine! I mean exactly like that of a professional!! It tastes great!!! The excitement in my heart right now is like that of someone who just won a trillion dollar.
    Thanks a whole lot,your detailed explanation really helped,God bless and keep up the good work

    • The excitement in the tone of your message made me smile. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a detailed feedback, I’m glad I could be of help. God bless you more.

  3. Sisi. You are the real MVP. Tried this recipe but without iru as I couldn’t get any. It turned out so delicious. Hubby enjoyed it sooooo much.

    I have been making efo riro with tomatoes all these years. Smh. No wonder it always tasted off and it was never my recipe of choice if I had family or friends to host.

    Thanks again sisi jemimah. God bless you and give you the strength to continue with the good work.

    Have yourself a very merry Christmas. Xxx

    • Hi, I’m so so sorry for the late response. Thanks for taking the time to leave a feedback, it’s greatly appreciated. Thanks for the kind words and prayers as well, God bless you so so much and have yourself a wonderful new year…xxx

  4. Hi there! So I’ve just used your efo riro recipe…OMG!!!! Absolutely fantastic! Although the color of my efo wasn’t quite like yours(I think I let it soak in hot water for too long) nonetheless the taste was to die for. I shall be making the designer stew later in the day, I’ll let you know how I get on. Thanks for your very easy to follow recipes xxx

    • Hi, I’m sorry for the late response. I’m glad you got on well with the recipe. Yeah, soaking vegetable leaves for too long will alter the colour. Will be waiting on your designer stew feedback. Thanks so much and you’re very welcome….X

  5. Hi,
    Can i get this ‘iru’ in the regular shops in Europe? What would it be called? I need to cook this at the weekend.

    • Fifi, dont think you’ll be able to find Iru in regular shops, it’s called Locust beans and I’ll say to try African stores, I’ve also seen it in a few Asian shops as well….

  6. Yay! i made this last weekend…same recipe sans the prawns and orishirishi (used ogunfe and chicken) and it turned out fabulous too. One mistake though, forgot to fry the iru before adding the pepper….still turned out great though. Keep em coming…

Join the discussion!

Love Our Recipes? Then Stalk Us Here!