Recipe: Smoked Turkey with Egusi sauce

Serves 4

We almost had another epic fail on our hands. Thankfully, however, Linda of Tropical Foodies saved the day. The end result? Creamy, smoky, turkey goodness. Read on to learn the critical lesson I learned about how to cook with melon seeds.

Tulsa Shopping Connection: melon seeds are available in Tulsa at Ebute Metta Tropical Market. Pumpkin seeds are in the bulk section of Whole Foods.


1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 smoked turkey thigh (available by the meat counter), cut into pieces
1/2 cup melon or pumpkin seeds
1 cup water plus 1/2 cup
1/2 cup tomato puree


We get things started by heating up oil in a pot over medium heat. Cook onions …

… and garlic, until fragrant and soft.

Meanwhile, take one smoked turkey thigh. Which are giant, by the way – especially if you’re only used to dealing with chicken thighs.

Using a sharp knife, cut it into chunks. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it helps if they are roughly the same size. Watch out for the bone.

Throw everything into the pot, including the bone (it adds more flavor and the little bits of meat on it are easier to get off after cooking.

Next, prepare the sauce. You’ll need some melon seeds. If you cannot get them, use pumpkin seeds (which might be more fun, anyway – what with Thanksgiving coming up and all).

Now, here’s where things get interesting.

I thought I could use my little mini processor. I dumped in the seeds and added a little water. Linda told me, make it creamy like peanut butter. Um. Turns out my blades were dull.

Also, I was working in a laundry room which pretty much guaranteed failure.

Hey, Miss Ava was sleeping. We have to cook our entire meal during one nap. No joke.

We do what it takes.

“Don’t wake the baby!”

The result:

This was as fine as I could get the paste. Miserable. Against all instincts (and Linda’s clear instructions) I added it to the stew. The result was a curdled mess with small chunks of seed floating around. In a panic, I called her and begged her to come cook it with me. But, alas, she’s in NY and I’m in OK.

Except I wasn’t doing OK.


Let’s carry on.

After some discussion, Linda helped me get things right. Although traditional recipes from the Ivory Coast call for making pureeing the egusi into a thick paste and then stirring it into broth, we settled on an even easier method, one that could not be stopped by dull blades.

But, just in case, we suggest you use a blender.

Here goes…

Add melon seeds to a blender and pour in 1 cup water.

Puree until the mixture looks like milk with little flecks of white in it. When you break down the seeds this much, it allows the water to soften them and they expand and thicken the stew. Amazing!

However, big chunks never break down and won’t thicken your sauce. End of story.

So, pour your beautiful, creamy egusi sauce over turkey.

Then take remaining half cup of water and swirl it around the blender, getting all the bits out. Pour that into the stew as well.

Add a healthy dollop of tomato puree.

It makes the sauce look a bit like vodka sauce. Except…

It’s smoky, tropical, and so very, very, very easy to make.

Especially if you don’t have to make the sauce twice, like I did.

Simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve hot with white rice and a big appetite.

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  1. It was delicious. We should have this again for Thanksgiving :)

  2. So just to clarify, there are two methods of preparing the seeds and you can use either of them. However, method 1 works only if the blades of your food processor are really sharp, so if you think the blades of your food processor have become a bit dull, use method 2.

    1. Put seeds in food processor with a little water. Puree.

    2. Put seeds in blender with a cup of water. Puree.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Linda and I suggest you use the blender:

      “But, just in case, we suggest you use a blender.”

      Sorry to confuse – just wanted to share what I learned, so you don’t have to learn the hard way.

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