Ewedu, Jew’s Mallow soup, is often eaten with Amala and tomato/pepper stew (Omi Obe). Other variants of this would be to add the Gbegiri soup. In Nigeria, apart from cooking the Ewedu by blending it and boiling with Iru (Locust Beans), Egusi and sometimes dried shrimps, there are not many recipes with Ewedu as the main star either on internet platforms or in restaurants where it is sold. Perhaps this could be due to the mucilaginous (‘drawing’) nature of the soup however its counterpart, Okra, has found its place in many dishes all over Africa. So why not Ewedu?
Ewedu, which is the Yoruba name for the Corchorus olitorus vegetable, is Jew’s Mallow or Jute leaves. In Northern Nigeria, it is called Ayoyo and used to make Miyan Ayoyo. Interestingly Ghanaians also have a soup called Ayoyo stew made from Ewedu. It is also eaten in Sierra Leone as Crain crain, in Kenya as Mrenda/Murere where it is boiled whole with salt, in Northern Africa and Middle East as Malukhiyah. In India, it is called Saluyot and it is cooked as whole leaves with onions, vegetable oil and vinegar added to it.
While its origin has been disputed because of its wild cultivation both in Africa and Asia, Africa seems to be where a larger presence of wild corchorus spp can be found.
The Jew’s Mallow or Jute leaves belong to the Malvaceae (Mallows) family where Okra also belongs. Its Genus Corchorus has many species. The Corchorus olitorus is the most popular specie in Nigeria.
Ewedu leaves can be dried and made into powder to be used as a sauce in the dry season.
100g of fresh Jew’s mallow contains 58kcal of energy, protein 4.5 g, fat 0.3 g, carbohydrate 12.4 g, fibre 2.0 g, Ca 360 mg, P 122 mg, Fe 7.2 mg, β-carotene 6410 μg, thiamine 0.15 mg, riboflavin 0.53 mg, niacin 1.2 mg, ascorbic acid 80 mg . However, the micronutrient composition (minerals and vitamins) is dependent on factors like soil fertility.
Processing of the vegetable is very important to the micronutrient content. While the Vitamin C content is high, it diminishes greatly when heated. Cooking time for Ewedu should be very short (about 5 minutes) to maximize the nutrients in them. Here is a post on how to get the best out of your leafy vegetables.
Ewedu is a great vegetable for use in complementary foods for infants and great vegetable for the family.