I recently made a “mean” pot of Efo Riro. Excuse my lack of humility. But yes, it was really that good. And it was good because I cooked it the right way – the Yoruba way. There was an abundance of palm oil and Iru (fermented locust beans). But a couple of months ago, I would never ever have cooked with Iru. I couldn’t stand it.

I remember once in Uni my friends and I met up for lunch. It was the canteen for the postgraduate hall students called Balewa – and so it was quite clean – albeit slightly expensive. But the cook often made a good pot of stew and so we frequently visited. For the life of me though, I have no idea why she always called Tee “Clint Eastwood“. She said they bore a striking resemblance. I’ve never known who Clint Eastwood was – (and I shall google it once I get to the end of the post). Ok, so this woman who had very full hips was often sweating and walked rather slowly always put so much Iru in her stew. Once I removed all the Iru to the side of my plate, and my friend scooped it up into hers and ate them. How someone could actually eat a bunch of Iru at once was way beyond me.  So yes, I hated Iru.

How then did it end up in my pot of Efo Riro?

Oh, and Efo Riro is a Yoruba delicacy. Again, this is not a meal that I grew up eating – you know being Igbo. But now married to Tee who is Yoruba, I have come to appreciate it – although it’s nothing close to how stressful Igbo soups can be.

I’ve made Efo Riro a lot of times since being married. But I almost always made the modified version. Little palm oil, because fitfam, and then no iru! None.

So again how did this end up in my pot this past weekend? I’ll explain.

But first, why did I make Efo and not typical Sunday rice? After successfully not eating rice in 46 days, I’m trying to make it a habit.  And so I asked Tee for ideas.  He is rather unhelpful with food ideas. He’s often happy with any good food. It’s interesting  because I often have food cravings so I know exactly what I want to eat. Well at least I think I do – until we go to a restaurant and I spend ages ‘studying’ the menu and still preferring to eat what everyone else ordered – evidence in this blog post.

So it was surprising when this happened:

  • Me: Hey babe, what would you like for lunch
  • Tee: Efo Riro and Pounded Yam
  • Me: oh wow. Sure! You actually know what you feel like.

So I scramble off and go start cooking the meats. Half way through, I hear him say “I’m just joking babe, you know I’d eat anything. You can’t actually believe I’m craving that.  I just said the first thing that popped in my head

I wasn’t too fussed to be honest. Efo is easy to cook and I was going to use a food processor for the pounded yam. It’s 2018 after all and the year of great cooking hacks for Nigerian dishes.
So I continued cooking. I poured a very generous helping of palm oil into the wok. And then I gasped. How could I in good conscience cook with that much palmoil? I decanted some of it into a tupperware. And then I added some Iru and added some more. And some more.

And this is the part where I tell you why I could add this much palm oil and Iru into my food.

Because my mother-in-law, Tee’s mum came over to help us out for a couple of months!  It’s a pretty common thing in Nigeria for mums to come over when their children have kids. I mentioned in my one month of motherhood update that my mum was such a great help!

You know there’s generally some phobia about mother-in-laws. I wonder where that comes from. Maybe a lot of the movies (even western movies like Monster-in-Law) or other people’s experiences?

We’d come back to that, but real quick, here’s 9 things that happened when my mother-in-law visited and all that it taught me:

1.    We ate lots of proper Yoruba food:

Case in point Efo Riro. And so I thought “hmmm, this sure tastes different with lots of palm oil and Iru”. It was often served with ‘semovita‘ – something else that I hardly ever cooked! The other highlight was “Ewa Agoyin”. This is really mashy black eyed beans made with some kind of pepper sauce with – you guessed it – lots of palm oil! But I loved it all – a little too much and that led to number 2 below. So the lesson – other foods out of the regular can be amazing. I still haven’t come to terms with ‘Gbegiri” though – aka ground beans soup.

2.    I gained weight!

I was pretty impressed with my post partum body. I didn’t gain much weight during pregnancy (see baby bump photo shoot 31 weeks and baby shower photos 35 weeks) and right after I had the baby, I could fit into a lot of my clothes. When my mum came over, I was also cautious to not over eat. But with my MIL, it got a bit tricky with all the food and ofcourse her cajoling me to eat. So yes, I’m trying to shed it all – but as I’m now cooking this efo myself – it could be a tough one! The lesson: I still need to learn how to say a firm No to good food.

3.    I learned different ways of cooking …

some I’d never quite seen. I assumed everyone simply made pap or “eba” with hot water, but apparently you could cook it on the cooker too! Lesson: There are several ways to kill a rat. Be open to ideas, your way isn’t always the best.

4.    We hardly did any dishes

and no she didn’t use the dishwasher. So now when I look at the dishes in the sink, I wishfully recall the days when she was here. So, If you know anyone who’s just had a baby – offer to cook for them and do the dishes. They may love you forever.

5.    We partied!

So, she was here for only a couple of months, but I probably attended more Nigerian parties than I had been in to the past year.  Thanks to her, I finally got to attend my first ever Yoruba Traditional Wedding Ceremony. My lesson: have more fun. Find it!

6.    Baby Got some Native love

If you’re Nigerian you’re familiar with the concept of backing a baby. Many mums swear by it. But I knew I’d probably have no clue how to do it even though it’s essentially using a wrap with the baby at your back. Anyway. Grandma came over and ofcourse J got backed! I hear babies love it.

And then there was the baby bath experience – we had tried to convince her to use our favourite bath support – which was amazing. She opted for the typical Nigeria way of bathing the baby with him on her legs in the bath. After a few screaming bouts of discomfort from J, she realised these new kids prefer to be much more relaxed! Lesson: Be open to change and learning new skills – the world is constantly moving.

7.    Some awkward moments

First, my awkwardness with the Yoruba kneeling culture isn’t that much better but that wasn’t a big deal. But we had some tad awkwardness around J’s names – especially when we introduced him to the Yoruba part of the family and they express slight surprise and difficulty in pronouncing his first name which is Igbo. And also surprise at his not very typical Yoruba name. Oh well. If we had gone with a French or Greek name, we may have still had raised eyebrows. Or maybe not. But it was all interesting to see. My Igbo family don’t exactly pronounce his Yoruba name right as well. Lesson: awkwardness would be a part of life – learn to deal with it.

8.    So much Inspiration!

We had some really good conversation and as usual I was keen to hear her life journey particularly in relation to her career, seeing as she’s still very active. The stories were full of inspiration – raising kids, building a career, faith, marriage and all of it. And what inspired me the most? How she went to church almost daily and constantly took long walks even in the cold – and was pointing out places to me in my own neighbourhood! I chose the couch as always. But you already know that – it’s in my bio! Lesson: Move more. walk more. Exercise. You are not a tree.

9. I thought of the Circle of Life.

Now this. Life really is in circles you know. And her visiting made me pray for the moment when I’ll be a grandma with my first son just as she has been with her first son. But again, it’s interesting how at that point, he’d have his own family and I’d become the guest. Hopefully, and God willing, there’s many many years for me to enjoy before then and I look to maximise every moment. Every single moment – this is what matters in life.

My new likeness for oil filled Efo riro and Iru aside, it was really lovely to have her around. And I think we need to spread some more of these decent mother daughter-in-law relationships. There’s this new thing where people choose to use Mother-in-Love to show good relationship. I’m not a huge fan, but hey whatever works.  Anything to quell Pentheraphobia – yes, that’s a real word, and it’s fear of your mother in law!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this – from efo riro and yoruba culture, native baby love and mother-in-law relationships. Do you have this fear or a good relationship with yours? Any tips?

Love, 

Kachee… Xx

Read these too: 6 Questions we get Asked on our Igbo/ Yoruba Union and 6 Love Lessons Learned From My Wedding Rings

pS: Tee read this post and said “oh I want that ewa agoyin right now”. It’s tempting for me to make some – but I’ll assume he’s kidding because it’s all fun and games till your jeans don’t fit! Oh and I googled Clint Eastwood – I see no resemblance!

ppS: if you enjoyed this please don’t forget to share.


16 COMMENTS

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16 Comments

  1. Debs

    May 9, 2018 at 09:12

    Oh Kachee, I love this post, so much. Not all part is relatable but being a Yoruba girl, I can easily identify with lots.You learnt so fast. Efo riro and pounded is really a big deal in my home and you dare not add enough palm oil and iru with fresh fish. Now I am salivating, lols.www.debwritesblog.com

    Reply
  2. Flora Oghenero Ogunlusi

    May 9, 2018 at 10:21

    Always a delight to read your posts. I can very well relate with most of your experiences, especially as my hubs and I are from different tribes as well. My Yoruba mother-in-law is full of knowledge and has her experiences too. Family-in-laws still have a hard time pronouncing my girls Urhobo names, so they just stick to thier English and Yoruba names -everybody is happy.I think that Acceptance is major sign of maturity in love. As grow, I find that our relationships have gotten better.Cheers!

    Reply
  3. Anjola Ogunsanwo

    May 9, 2018 at 11:27

    I stopped reading to check who Clint Eastwood is. I knew his face, I knew his name but I just didn’t know it was the same person haha. and of course he doesn’t look like your husband at all. I used to hate iru as well, but now, i eat it. Ewa agoyin is one of my best foods, never just seen it as a meal to be cooked at home, i prefer buying it esp because of the sauce/oil ‘infested’ stew ;And now I don’t know if that’s weird. Great post!PS: I always look forward to your ‘PS’ There’s just something about the additional info that makes the post even more interesting. 😉

    Reply
  4. 'Dara

    May 9, 2018 at 13:57

    I also had to google Clint Eastwood mid-way through reading the post. No resemblance. Lol. I like how you picked lessons from each of the experiences. New word learned today- Pentheraphobia

    Reply
  5. Awele Akemu

    May 9, 2018 at 14:56

    I loved ‘backing ‘ my babies as it would allow me do do many things at home while they snoozed away on my back. I missed both mum’s when they left as I had become lazy and too used to being waited on lol.I love the flavor iru gives to efo riro and I use it to cook but would never eat the actual iru lol

    Reply
  6. Gloria Lawson

    May 9, 2018 at 18:00

    My dear Kachi!Lots of palm oil and iru are essential to making a bomb diggidy efo riro! I know what you mean about not previously liking iru, as I was the exact same. I think it was just me not having being exposed to it as a child – Delta Babe – warri to be exact although born and bred in Lagos. Now though, I use it happily and create super, authentic tasting soups from efo, to okro to ogbono etc!I also have a great relationship with my MIL and I think it’s a blessing for sure.X

    Reply
  7. Ajala & Foodie

    May 10, 2018 at 02:14

    Good to read about people with good in-law relationships. I can’t say i have a good relationship with mine sadly. Since i just had a baby too i can relate i.e imagine what it would be like if we did get along fine . My mum is here and that helps but my mum is not a typical yoruba mother i.e she does not know how to back, bathe or even make any swallow apart from eba but she is a early riser so takes the baby at night so we can sleep and for me that is MAJOR!!! My MIL on the other hand would do the backing, bathing and cooking if things were different. Honestly, it would have been nice to have both of them here and i would not have to do anything, but i am still thankful for my mum. I genuinely wish things were different with my MIL alas….

    Reply
  8. Adenike

    May 10, 2018 at 08:47

    WAIT! How can you not love ‘palm oil and Iru”, they make every soup/stew taste ten times better.Similar to yours, yoruba babe marries her delta boo. My MIL is pretty private and traditional, so yes we are still in that awkward phase, however i am looking forward to a period like this to bond, hopeful learn and be inspired by her. I love how relatable your posts her btw.

    Reply
  9. Oluwaseun Alao Adewolu

    May 10, 2018 at 19:42

    She deserves some accolades. Who will show this to the Balewa woman now ehn?? Lol. I remember her Iru-laden stew. I agree, she was really pricey!! I became an Iru lover because of her though. Contrary to what we see in Nollywood, I have a good rapport with my mother-in-law. Our ideas clash at times though….her baby bathing style…hhhhmmm.When I had my son, I was hoping she would help with post delivery Igbo dishes but she owned up to not knowing the recipe talkless of how to cook ’em…(she’s Igbo btw..married to my Yoruba father-in-law for 41years). My taste bud salivated for her arrival in vain…I ended up with my regular Yoruba meals. My Own Lesson —> Control your long throat to avoid intestinal disappointment courtesy of M-I-L.

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      May 11, 2018 at 18:19

      Omg! Hahahaha. Maybe she’s been making Yoruba meals for so long. I’m sorry you got disappointed. And yes, ideas clashing is expected – we’re all different after all + there’s a generational gap!

      Reply
    • Bababi

      May 13, 2018 at 09:28

      Hahhahhahaha

      Reply
  10. Raliat Farouk

    May 11, 2018 at 17:52

    This post is so relatable… Almost everything. From the day I had my baby,my mom and mil moved in automatically and it was fun for me. They always had gist and they both contributed in making fat with different dishes everyday. My mom is IBO and mil Yoruba so very relatable. For the backing, I almost can’t go a day without doing it as my baby is now so used to it. I have a wonderful relationship with my mil, I am on the verge of making her bankrupt now as I get to see her at least once a week with me always demanding for things.

    Reply
    • Bababi

      May 13, 2018 at 09:28

      Hahhaahhaha

      Reply
  11. Bababi

    May 11, 2018 at 20:27

    God bless all the absolutely wonderful MILs. I’ve not had the opportunity to live with my MIL but I’m hopping when that time comes, it’ll be an enjoyable time together.I’m a yoruba girl and though i absolutely love most yoruba foods, I wasn’t particularly a fan of Iru until 2015. In 2015, my grandmother came to spend 2weeks with us. On one of the days, she made a meal of spaghetti. The only ingredients she used for the spaghetti was Iru, pepper and vegetable oil (no salt, no curry, no seasoning cubes….nothing else) and the spaghetti tasted divine. I was like “wow” is this how magical iru can be? Since then, i loved Iru.This post makes me remember my late Aunty. She was so good at making eforiro. In my family we used to joke that anyone who ate my Aunt’s eforiro would automatically become her puppet. Her eforiro was divinely delicious.

    Reply
  12. Mercy

    May 12, 2018 at 10:02

    Iru is the bomb diggity! It makes everything that bit more delicious.But for the strong smell, I would use it more. I don’t wantmy neighbours to report me to council HAHAHA!Maybe it’s my personality, but I really wouldn’t have beenable to stand my MIL living with me after I just had a baby.Even my mum was gone after 3 weeks and I breathed a sigh of relief(though I also missed her very much). I just like my space at that timeand the risk of clashing over opinions just makes me keep my distance.It’s nice to see you two got along well and you could learn from her.Binge reading your blog this morning. A pleasure as always!xMEIKOwww.immeiko.com

    Reply
  13. oma amadi

    May 19, 2018 at 07:02

    Now you”re making me crave Efo RIro with lots of Palmoil, but this FitFam life wee not allow me.Its a good Saturday to binge read.

    Reply

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