Egun Feast

by

Iya Ifalola Omobola

Periodically it will come up within a reading that one needs to have a party for their ancestors.  This generally entails setting up a space for that particular ancestor and cook their favorite meal, making enough for the guests you are going to invite to taste or even use as the main meal, if appropriate (some folk are vegetarian and most of our people had a taste for meat while on this side.)

One would invite family members and friends of the family.  They would not need to know that it is a ritual in which they are participating.  Have fun.  Play music, including some of the songs the ancestor enjoyed, if known.  Sometime during the festivities, steer the discussion to the ancestor being honored.  Often times, unknown information will have a tendency to pop up.

Another type of propitiation for the ancestors is structured to honor the ancestral frame as a whole, going beyond the five or seven generations of one’s own personal line and giving honor to the whole collective of ancestral energy, sometimes referred to as the “35th line.”

This is moreso a feast – a preparation of certain dishes – that are given to them.  Some people refer to this collection as the “nine African dishes.”  They are prepared and placed on white plates either on the altar if it is on the floor or around the altar if it is on a table and there is no room for the plates.  Certain oriki and petitions are spoken, and generally a 7-day candle (more like 4 1/2 these days) is lit and placed there along with a container of water.

Follows is one suggested way of preparing the nine African dishes as was passed on to me by my first teacher.  Please feel free and pass it on.

Sometimes one of the items may be difficult to find so ten items are presented.  Afterwards is a suggested schedule of preparation based on personal experience and then recipes for some of the dishes.

FOODS FOR EGUN FEAST

1.   PLANTAIN (DODO) – SLANT/SLICE NINE (9) PIECES THE SAME SIZE. FRY IN PEANUT OIL.  ARRANGE IN A CIRCLE ON A WHITE PLATE.

2.  EGGPLANT – PEEL AND CUT NINE (9) EQUAL PIECES.  COAT IN FLOUR AND FRY IN PEANUT OIL.  ARRANGE IN A CIRCLE ON A WHITE PLATE.

3.  AMALA – CHOP APPROXIMATELY FIVE (5) PIECES OF OKRA INTO SMALL PIECES.  BOIL THEM IN APPROXIMATELY TWO CUPS OF WATER.  UPON BOILING, STIR IN YELLOW CORN MEAL UNTIL CONSISTENCY IS THICK.  PUT COLD WATER ON HANDS AND SHAPE MIXTURE INTO NINE (9) BALLS HALF THE SIZE OF AN EGG.  PLACE IN A CIRCLE ON A WHITE PLATE.

 4. ADUN – PUT APPROXIMATELY 3/4 CUP OF TOASTED CORN FLOUR INTO A BOWL.  ADD A LITTLE PALM OIL AND HONEY TO MAKE A THICK PASTE.  SHAPE INTO NINE (9) BALLS A LITTLE BIGGER THAN MARBLES, AND PLACE IN A CIRCLE ON A WHITE PLATE.

 5. EKO – STIR THREE TABLESPOONS OF WHITE CORN STARCH INTO ONE CUP OF COLD WATER.  BRING TO A BOIL STIRRING CONSTANTLY.  OR STIR IN ENOUGH COLD WATER TO MAKE A THIN PASTE AND PUT INTO BOILING WATER, STIRRING QUICKLY.  SHAPE INTO NINE (9) BALLS THE SIZE OF MARBLES AND PLACE IN A CIRCLE ON A WHITE PLATE.

6. COCONUT (OBI) – RUN COLD WATER OVER COCONUT.  TAP GENTLY OVER ENTIRE COCONUT TO LOOSEN SHELL.  BREAK SHELL WITH HAMMER.  SAVE FOUR MEDIUM PIECES CUT INTO SQUARES FOR DIVINATION.  CUT NINE (9) PIECES INTO SMALL SQUARES AND ARRANGE IN A CIRCLE ON A WHITE PLATE.  USE AN IMPLEMENT SUCH AS A TOOTHPICK OR THE TIP OF A WOODEN CHOPSTICK TO PUT PALM OIL IN THE CENTER OF THE COCONUT.  PLACE ONE PIECE OF ATARE (GUINEA PEPPER) IN THE CENTER OF EACH PIECE OF COCONUT, TAKING CARE NOT TO DROP ANY ON THE FLOOR.  (This is referred to as Existence in some circles.)

 7. BEANS EWA – BOIL ONE CUP OF BLACK-EYED PEAS FOR TWENTY (20) MINUTES.  CHANGE WATER AND CONTINUE TO BOIL UNTIL SOFT.  ADD APPROXIMATELY 2 CUP OF RED SAUCE (SEE ATTACHED) AND COOK A LITTLE LONGER.  MASH A BIT AND SHAPE INTO NINE (9) BALLS THE SIZE OF HALF OF AN EGG.  ARRANGE IN A CIRCLE ON A WHITE PLATE.

 8. AKARA – (SEE ATTACHED RECIPE.  BATTER MUST BE USED RIGHT AWAY.)  ARRANGE NINE (9) PIECES THE SAME APPROXIMATE SIZE IN A CIRCLE ON A WHITE PLATE.

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 9. RICE – PREPARE ONE CUP OF WHTE RICE AND PLACE IN A MOUND ON A WHITE PLATE.

 10. WATER YAM (OJOJO) – PEEL YAM OF OUTER BARK, WHICH IS POISONOUS.  GRATE YAM ON SMALLEST GRATE SIZE (CONSISTENCY WILL BE THICK AND GUMMY).  DROP SPOONFULS INTO HOT PEANUT OIL.  COOK UNTIL BROWN.    PLACE NINE SIMILAR PIECES IN A CIRCLE ON A WHITE PLATE.

PREPARATION SCHEDULE

To prepare:

Plantain, eggplant, AMALA,, ADUN, OBI,  beans EWA, AKARA, rice and OJOJO.

One person, three (3) pots.

Prepare beforehand and put in refrigerator:

                        Red sauce uncooked.

                        Soak (five to ten minutes is sufficient) peas/shell.

                        Onion and garlic for AKARA.

Cooking plan.

  1. Put beans on to boil.
  2. Put rice on to cook.
  3. Put oil on to heat.
  4. Make ADUN.
  5. Cut plantain and fry.
  6. Cut eggplant, coat and fry.
  7. Change water on beans.
  8. Make AKARA batter and fry.
  9. Take off rice and prepare.
  10. Boil okra.
  11. Grate YAMI (Ojojo) and fry.
  12. Prepare AMALA.
  13. Cook red sauce.
  14. Cut and prepare OBI.
  15. Combine red sauce with beans.

RECIPES

RED SAUCE

2 CUP TOMATO PASTE
2 TABLESPOONS GROUND RED PEPPER
1 CUP CHOPPED ONION (APPROXIMATELY 3 MEDIUM SIZED ONIONS)
1/4 CUP CHOPPED GARLIC (APPROXIMATELY 9 CLOVES)
1 CUP CHOPPED RED BELL PEPPER
2 CUPS WATER
1/4 CUP PALM OIL IN POT
FISH OR CHICKEN
SPINACH

PUT FIRST SIX INGREDIENTS, IN ORDER LISTED, INTO BLENDER.  BLEND UNTIL MIXTURE IS LIQUIFIED.  PREPARE FISH BY CUTTING INTO BITESIZE PIECES, COATING WITH FLOUR, AND FRYING; OR CHICKEN BY BOILING FIRST, FRYING AFTER DRAINING, AND THEN REMOVING CHICKEN WING TIPS (SACRED TO EGUN).  ADD THE MEAT TO THE SAUCE AFTER IT HAS COOKED FOR TWENTY (20) MINUTES.   ADD CLEANED SPINACH TO SAUCE AFTER IT HAS COOKED FOR FORTY (40) MINUTES.  LET IT COOK FOR AT LEAST AN ADDITIONAL TEN (10) MINUTES. AFTER SERVING FOR EGUN HAS BEEN TAKEN, ADD SALT TO TASTE.

SERVE WITH EKO, FARINA OR SOME OTHER SORT OF SRATCH.

THIS RECIPE PROVIDES THREE MODERATE SERVINGS.

 

AKARA:

 2 2  cup BLACK-EYED PEAS
3/4 CUP CHOPPED ONION
1 TABLESPOON CHOPPED GARLIC
1/4 TEASPOON CINNAMON
1 2 TABLESPOON GROUND RED PEPPER
1+ CUP WATER
SOAK PEAS IN COLD WATER FOR APPROXIMATELY 20 MINUTES.  REMOVE SHELLS BY RUBBING PEAS TOGETHER.  BLEND INGREDIENTS TOGETHER UNTIL JUST SLIGHTLY THICK.  (ADD ADDITIONAL WATER IF NECESSARY.)  DROP SPOONFULS INTO HOT OIL.  OIL IS READY WHEN BATTER FLOATS.  COOK UNTIL BROWN.(Many people pour honey on the AKARA after it has been prepared, at least for the ones being passed to guests.)MAKES APPROXIMATELY THIRTY (30) AKARA.

 

GREEN SAUCE (FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT EAT RED FOOD):

3 TABLESPOONS TOMATO PASTE
1 2 TABLESPOON GROUND RED PEPPER
1 CUP CHOPPED ONION (APPROXIMATELY 3 MEDIUM SIZED ONIONS)
1 TABLESPOON CHOPPED GARLIC (APPROXIMATELY4 CLOVES)
1 WHOLE YELLOW BELL PEPPER
(OR 1/4 MEDIUM GREEN BELL PEPPER.  KEEP ADDING PEPPER UNTIL SAUCE IS GREEN AND NOT ORANGE.)
1 CUP OF WATER
1/4 CUP OF PEANUT OIL IN POT
FISH OR CHICKEN
SPINACH

PUT FIRST SIX INGREDIENTS, IN ORDER LISTED, INTO BLENDER.  BLEND UNTIL MIXTURE IS LIQUIFIED.  PREPARE FISH BY CUTTING INTO BITESIZE PIECES, COATING WITH FLOUR, AND FRYING; OR CHICKEN BY BOILING FIRST, FRYING AFTER DRAINING, AND THEN REMOVING CHICKEN WING TIPS (SACRED TO EGUN).  ADD THE MEAT TO THE SAUCE AFTER IT HAS COOKED FOR TWENTY (20) MINUTES.   ADD CLEANED SPINACH TO SAUCE AFTER IT HAS COOKED FOR FORTY (40) MINUTES.  LET IT COOK FOR AT LEAST AN ADDITIONAL TEN (10) MINUTES.

AFTER SERVING FOR EGUN HAS BEEN TAKEN, ADD SALT TO TASTE.

SERVE WITH EKO, FARINA OR SOME OTHER SORT OF SRATCH.

THIS RECIPE PROVIDES THREE MODERATE SERVINGS.

Article by Iya'falola H. Omobola

An initiated priest of the Orisha, Ifa, Palo and Vodoun systems, Iya'falola has been observing the Yoruba culture for the past thirty five years and is a published writer - three books with a fourth on the way (click on her name to see her website). She began Oya N'Soro as a printed newsletter called Oya's Marketplace in 1991, which then transformed into a bound book called Ogbe'Soro. She eventually turned it into an ezine entitled Oya N'Soro: Oya Speaks! in 2004. She operates an Ile in Jackson, MS called Ile Ominira Ilu - The House of the Land That's Been Freed.

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