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Isi ewu is a rich traditional delicacy that originated from the southeastern part of Nigeria. I consider this region the Olingo Republic of Nigeria. Olingo is the Igbo slang for enjoyment. The southeast region is the one region in Nigeria with the license to chop money. The typical Igbo man believes that drinking is the best form of relaxation. The best time to relax is in the evening after the day’s work. When men dem gather, drinks are usually accompanied with meat as expressed in their slogan ana anwu mmanya, ana ata ife alu which literally means that we should be chewing something while we drink.

As the name implies, goat head is the principal ingredient for isi ewu. Local spices used in preparing this delicacy include calabash nut meg, ngo or edible potash, palm oil, onions, fresh pepper, utazi. The goat brain is separated from the rest of the meat. It serves as a thickener. It is cooked inside a foil bag, then mashed and stirred into a spicy palm oil sauce known as ncha before the cooked meat is added to the sauce.

Isi ewu is served during traditional gatherings in Igboland. This meat sauce has become so popular that it has won the heart of people from other ethnic groups. It is therefore considered a national delicacy; indeed, there is no bar of repute in Nigeria that does not have this delicacy on its menu.

Isi ewu is sometimes mistaken for nkwobi. While their method of preparation is the same, the meats used are different. Let me quickly add that in serving isi ewu, the eyes, ears, and tongue which are collectively known as the “particulars” are kept whole and served in a separate dish on the side. Nothing must happen to the particulars oh! Restaurateurs know that a customer can reject a serving with incomplete particulars.

This delicacy is typically served in wooden mortars. It is garnished with raw onion and utazi leaves. It is often eaten from the bowl by hand. Isi ewu is another way of enjoying goat meat. Fresh raffia palm wine is the best accompaniment to this mouthwatering delicacy.


Atlas Obscura

Featured image source: Onyx Food Hill

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This article was first published on 13th May 2019


Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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