Isi ewu, a spicy stew traditionally prepared by the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria, literally means “goat head.” In restaurant kitchens, chefs typically simmer the head whole until tender. (Space-challenged home cooks can ask the butcher to cut theirs up.) In a separate pot, cooks prepare a sauce flavored with hot pepper, ground crayfish, bitter utazi leaves, and a spice called ehuru, also known as calabash nutmeg. The brain serves as a thickener, cooked inside a foil bag, then mashed and stirred into the stew before the pieces of the cooked head. The eyes, ears, and tongue, known as the “particulars,” are kept whole and served in a separate dish on the side.
Isi ewu is typically served in wooden mortars, garnished with raw onion and utazi leaves. It’s often eaten from the bowl by hand and washed down with cold beer or palm wine.