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BN Cuisine with Dooney’s Kitchen: A Twist of the Traditional Favorite | Yam & Peppersoup with Prawns



This past weekend was an intense missing my mummy weekend. I don’t know why, but I just woke up feeling really nostalgic and home sick for no apparent reason. My mum and I are quite close, even though I’m a Daddy’s girl to the core. I was named after her (first and middle name) and everyone says I’m the exact replica of her, down to manner of walking and tone of voice.

Whilst partaking in my regular weekend house chores, I kept getting flashbacks about her instructions on cleaning the house. I got my OCD-esque style of cleaning from her and I was smiling to myself remembering her many famous phrases “hard work does not kill but laziness destroys”, “Ola I would like to see the reflection of my teeth in those bathroom tiles”, “how many times did you scrub the toilet” and her funny ones “heaven forbid that they will tell you in your husband’s house that I didn’t train you well o”, “the fear of mummy is the beginning of wisdom”. I am the eldest child so you can say I was put through the ringer a bit.

She had a large repertoire of phrases designed to instil the fear of God in you and get you in line pretty quick, many of which were laced in the Yoruba language. After all that cleaning, mummy would cook a world-class breakfast and we had family friends and relatives who timed their Saturday morning arrivals just for that. You guessed correctly, after all the cleaning had been done; they nicely sauntered in like they had some extra special spidey sense.

So part of dealing with my nostalgia, I prepared one of the dishes from her famous Saturday morning breakfast and I picked up the phone and we talked shop for hours. I remembered all the sleepless nights she experienced during my childhood and teenage years, as I was very sickly during that period. Part of my recovery involved eating very spicy Yam and Catfish Pepper soup which mummy made so well. A good blend of carbohydrates and proteins for a body wracked with illness. Pepper soup is basically a fish broth cooked with spices. It is a Nigerian favourite, especially in the South and the East and it is seen as a festive or special dish.

There are many signature pepper soup joints scattered all over the place brimming with hot steamy pots of delicious pepper soup mostly cooked with fresh fish or goat meat. Culturally, it is said to be medicinal for women who have just given birth as the spices, herbs and peppers help cleanse the body.  So, as an ode to Oladunni Snr, I am sharing a childhood favourite with you. I have taken mummy’s recipe and improved it by adding Prawns, which introduces an extra dimension of flavour to the pepper soup.

What You Need – (Feeds 2- 3 people)

1 whole catfish – cut into  5 pieces
1 heaped tablespoon of ground Pepper soup spices
3 pieces of Ata Rodo – scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
1 pound of deveined Prawns
1 handful of Efinrin/basil leaves
1 small red onion
1 teaspoon of onion granules/powder
Cubed raw yams – about 10 pieces

This is really spicy pepper soup. It is best enjoyed this way, but you can reduce the number of pieces of Ata Rodo that you put in it to reduce the heat

Preparation time: 10 minutes and cooking time is approximately 15 minutes

How To
Clean the fish properly, rinse the prawns and set aside. Roughly blend 2 pieces of Ata Rodo (use a hand blender or pound using a small mortar and pestle as it is just 2 piece). Chop the red onion and 1 piece of ata rodo and set aside. Chop the efinrin/basil leaves and set aside .


Spicy pepper

Deveined prawns

Efirin/ Basil

Cut up yam

Onion and pepper – chopped up

Put the fish in a deep saucepan and add 3 cups of water, the chopped red onion and ata rodo, 1-heaped tablespoon of spices, and the blended ata rodo.  I used a combination of blended and chopped ata rodo for two reasons. 1. The blended ata rodo will colour the water slightly, while the chopped ata rodo is for aesthetics to match the chopped efinrin leaves.

Let this boil for 10 minutes on low heat.  Remember to cook catfish on low heat to allow for the spices to seep into the fish slowly and combine the flavour of the catfish beautifully. Intense heat destroys the flavour of the fish. While the fish is cooking, boil the cubes of yam under high heat, for the same amount of time. Ensure that you cook both simultaneously, so that the soup will be ready to receive the boiled yam. Add the prawns and let it cook for 3 minutes.  Prawns cook pretty fast, and heat also destroys the flavour, so you add prawns towards the tail end of cooking so it releases its juices just in time to combine with the rest of the soup. Add the chopped efinrin/basil leaves, stir by shaking the saucepan in circular motions.

Do NOT stir with a cooking spoon. Let the vegetables cook in the soup for 2 – 3 minutes to release their essence into the soup.


You may ask, why mess with a traditional recipe and add prawns? Short story – I experienced a certain aha moment 2 weeks ago. I had leftover catfish pepper soup from hosting friends the day before with no fish. The volume was so small it was not enough to boil a piece of fish or meat and I didn’t want to dilute the soup with water. I also didn’t want to throw away the soup or eat it plainly, so out of desperation I decided to add fresh prawns, knowing prawns cook in under 5 minutes. The result was astounding and I gave a loud whoop in the kitchen for my accidental discovery.

The flavour of the catfish combining with the prawns was quite surprising. I tried it again to write this post and the 2nd time around I still got that amazing taste. Henceforth, when I make catfish pepper soup I will use prawns. You try it out too, and tell me it is not the best thing since the invention of fish pepper soup. If you have any questions leave a comment on the blog or send me an email – [email protected]
Dunni Obata is an IT Project Manager by day and a cook the rest of the time. She loves entertainment and one of her bad habits is feeding people. When she’s not cooking, she’s watching the Food Network. Dunni is very passionate about Nigerian food and believes they have a lot to offer globally. Visit her blog –

I'm an IT Project Manager by day and a cook the rest of the time. I love entertaining, and one of my bad habits is feeding people, so guests beware. When I'm not cooking, I'm watching Food Network, American TV series and National Geographic in that order. When I want peace and quiet, I curl up on the sofa and read a good book I'm very passionate about Nigerian food. I believe our food has a lot to offer globally, and with the right exposure, it can stand proud alongside food from other cultures. I'm hoping to get us all fired up and talking about Nigerian cooking irrespective of whatever part of the world you live in. Welcome to Dooney's Kitchen


  1. naana

    May 24, 2013 at 11:32 am

    am hungryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

    • Regina

      May 24, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      I AM = I’M.
      I AM =/= AM
      I’M hungry. I’M full. I’M male. I’M female.

    • Jo!

      May 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      OMG, lmao. Regina haf kill me with laff ooooooo. I hate when people use “am” instead of “I’m” too though.

    • Biodun

      May 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm


    • Mama Emma

      May 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm


    • Oaken

      May 25, 2013 at 2:28 am


  2. Joyce

    May 24, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Nice yummy yummy.MY tommy Ooº°˚ lol

  3. Miss Mo

    May 24, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Looks yummy

  4. Peace

    May 24, 2013 at 11:50 am

    God bless you dear. Fantastic recipe.

  5. Bleed blue

    May 24, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Oh Jeez Dunni! You won’t wound me with oppression oh. For those of us in colder climes…this just looks so right, for right now, and right away. I’m right. Right?

    • Dunni Obata

      May 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      Lol. Oya, oppress me back and prepare your own. Yam and Peppersoup smack down. How about that? Lol

  6. amarachi

    May 24, 2013 at 11:54 am

    e b like say I dey dr ooooooooooo

  7. titi

    May 24, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Nicee,thanx dunni.

  8. BUCIE

    May 24, 2013 at 12:12 pm


  9. i no send

    May 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    YUMMY…i must try it

  10. foluke

    May 24, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Oh girl, I love this and I love the pictures more. What rubbish am I typing? I love the food more of course. This babe is not playing o. Did u hire a photographer or what, I had to scroll up again to be sure say no be one kind chef. I am salivating at my desk here and laughingat your mum’s stories. Nigerian mothers are the same kai. Peppersoup oooooooo

  11. Omg this just looks soooooo good! I just ate but happy to eat this now!

  12. Bims

    May 24, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    You had this when you were sick. Ye pa. Me sef I want to be sick o. People we need to move to Dunni’s house. Onward march who is coming with me

    • Dunni Obata

      May 24, 2013 at 9:22 pm

      Yes I did o. My mum is great at this. All that pepper will kill all the nasties sharply and your appetite will resume in full force. About moving to my house, hmmmn. Just give me fair warning, so I know who i’ll displace. Your comment made me laugh. Thanks

  13. Enty

    May 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    As interesting as this is, it really isn’t a new recipe. Women in the South eastern parts of Nigeria have been making sea food pepper soup for ages, I remember my mom making yam pepper soup with shrimp/prawns and other shell fish when I was growing up. I guess one person’s “aha moment” is another person’s reality. But good effort on the tutorial, prep time and pictures.

    • Meeeee

      May 24, 2013 at 10:59 pm

      You are very right. Many in SE Nigeria have been making this for ages. I made something similar a fews weeks ago and it was very delish. On the other hand, it is quite sweet of Dooney to share her “recipe” on a public forum for some to try on their own. More grease to your elbows Dooney.

    • Dunni Obata

      May 25, 2013 at 8:19 am

      Thanks Meeeee

  14. Chikaka

    May 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Okpoko! (or/kpo/kor)

  15. Just saying...

    May 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Please more of this….

    From a sometimes-lack-of-idea-of-what-to-cook housewife

    • Bims

      May 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      ah, she get blog o. I have just visited the blog and I love it. Lots of ideas there. this weekend it is going down in my house. Lol

  16. Mo'

    May 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Well done Dunni! Looks very yummy. I will definitely be trying this out. Just a quick question. What of the seasoning? How many pinches of salt, cubes of knorr/maggi e.t.c? I hope I get a response. Many thanks.

    • Dunni Obata

      May 24, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Mo, I used 1 seasoning cube and finished off with salt. We all have personal preferences as regards salt, so I say whatever is fine by you. Start with a small pinch, shake the pot and let it settle and taste. Re-season with more salt if you think it is necessary and go from there. Use salt in small increments until you get to the taste you desire. I hope that helps

    • Mo'

      May 24, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      Thank you so much for your response Dunni. Now I can “oppress” with my peppersoup making skills!

    • Dunni Obata

      May 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      You go girl….. Carry on

  17. 5'5

    May 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    ah! dunni, God bless you. I love your recipes cos it reminds me of me, always trying out, testing. I am going to make this for dinner today. Wooossh! cant wait

  18. Nina

    May 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Trying this as soon as i get home from school

  19. luther

    May 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Ensure that you cook both simultaneously, so that the soup will be ready to receive the boiled yam….Oleku….made this my wife…but didnt add the shrimps…will try that tomorrow afternoon…..Oleku o….she must love me more

  20. chimi

    May 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm


  21. faithlife

    May 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks Dunni…I’m gonna try it out this weekend

  22. Dunni Obata

    May 24, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Hello Everyone, thank you for all your comments. I hope you try it in your homes and taste the difference. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to send me an email or drop a comment. Have a nice weekend

  23. Joshua

    May 24, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    This is sure getting a whole lot of ‘tries’….i just bookmarked thanks dearie….and u are so hardworking…av a swell weekend with lots of kitchen discoveries ‘cos am waiting for more great dishes and u’ll sure get the credit Dunni.

  24. Su-su

    May 24, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Also try prawns with red snapper fish, either in pepper soup or banga. Thank me later…wink

    • Dunni Obata

      May 25, 2013 at 8:18 am

      Hey, great idea. Thanks for sharing

  25. Oaken

    May 25, 2013 at 2:32 am

    Donney, thanks for the hook up. Where can I find fresh efinrin in California ?

    • Dunni Obata

      May 25, 2013 at 8:18 am

      Hi Oaken, you may be able to find in an African food store. if you don’t have any close to you don’t sweat it. I used Basil, which you will be able to soucre easily from any grocery store on the herb aisle

  26. atukpa

    June 7, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Dunni Obata!!!!! This pepersoup was on point on a different level.
    The prawns in the soup was new to me, but it gave it a li’l something extra.
    I also didn’t know Fresh basil was my beloved efirin. It was pricey sha $2 for 1 skinny bunch, the thing that grows in my ma’s backyard like weed (i digress i know)
    I thoroughly enjoyed it. The instructions you provide are really easy to follow.
    Ofada Check, Peppersoup check, Banga…. waiting on ma to send ingredients.

  27. nena

    June 9, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Hmmmm,I’m thinking of using chicken instead of catfish. Any idea how it might turn out?

  28. Awele

    December 24, 2015 at 2:22 am

    hi Dooney thanks for all your recipes. I am not really a fan of catfish, what other kind of fish can i use

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