Our first batch sold out within minutes, and we've arranged for a much bigger shipment of iru in partnership with chef & writer Tunde Wey.
Iru (fermented locust beans) has been used for centuries across West Africa for its delicious and healthful properties. Rich in protein and natural fats, it imparts a deep umami flavor to savory or sweet dishes. It's the fermented bean of the Nigerian Locust Tree and it has an incredible, complex flavor, somewhere in between chocolate, miso, and cheese.
Today, it's at risk of disappearing from kitchens, and we want to make sure you get to know this beautiful spice, which is perfect for umami-rich stews, sauces and bean dishes.
Despite its wide applications across West African cuisine, it's still surprisingly difficult to find in the US, especially in dry bean form.
- Origin: Ilaro, Ogun State, Nigeria
- Aliases: Dadawa / dawadawa, ogiri, ogirisi, ugba, netetou, kainda, soumbala
- Process: Boiled, fermented and sun-dried
Ingredients: 100% fermented locust beans (Parkia biglobosa)
- Tasting notes: Dark Chocolate • Roasted Nuts • Mild Cheese • Miso
- Use as you would dried mushrooms or other dried natural sources of glutamates — soak in hot water to soften, or add to soups and stews.
- Add iru as an aromatic at the beginning of the cooking process to sautéed dishes, along with garlic, onions, etc.
- Use iru instead of MSG or bouillon cubes in West African (and other) recipes.
- Pairs well with: Black Urfa Chili, Cobanero Chili, Oregano Buds
We're partnering with Tunde Wey and his new brand, FK.N.STL, to source this incredible ingredient from women producers in Nigeria's Ogun State, with sourcing and processing support from Kasher Organic Farms.
"For centuries Nigerians have used indigenously fermented seasonings and condiments to imbue their foods with rich complex flavor. Different ethnic groups developed myriad techniques to turn seeds and stems into pungent and powerful pastes and pellets, transforming innocuous ingredients into delicious meals. In 1969, Nestle entered the Nigerian market, and the ensuing period has seen artisanal fermented condiments, like Iru, replaced with factory-produced, soy-based bouillon cubes.
"Iru, fermented locust beans, is a disappearing condiment, a victim of Neo Colonialism. Disappearing condiments are indigenously produced condiments being displaced from kitchens, dining tables, recipes and dishes by produced products from global brands."
(Learn more at www.disappearingcondiments.com.)
Locust beans grow in long, green pods from the branches of the Parkia biglobosa tree. The tree itself fixes nitrogen in the soil, and grains and other crops are often planted around the base of the tree to take advantage of the richer soil and protection from the sun that it provides. The fresh beans are surrounded by a yellow pulp, which is sweet and tart and is an important source of vitamin C. Other parts of the tree, including the bark and leaves, are also used medicinally.
After the pods are harvested, the inner dry seeds are boiled to soften the hulls, which are then removed by pounding them in a wooden mortar with sand. The beans are washed and boiled again, then packed into a calabash gourd lined with ash, which is wrapped with leaves to ferment for 24–36 hours. There are several methods for making finished iru, including a wet preparation and mashing the beans into cakes, but ours is a style called iru woro, where they are sun-dried as loose beans.
In some styles, the locust beans are combined with soy beans, melon seeds, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds. Ours is made with only locust beans.
Iru is simply the taste of home - after learning about it and its history, about it's being a "forgotten spice", I was intrigued enough to try it - I ordered two jars! i started adding a few pieces to stews - it is particularly good with buckwheat. Thank you for sourcing and introducing this interesting and unique spice!
I have received them. They are beautifully packaged and presented; and pleasingly fragrant. I am widowed and single and will have them at hand for a special recipe and event that will call or their use. P.S. I generally decline reviews because of this box.
I like the flavor of iru but have a bit of trouble knowing how to use it in my cooking.
Never used this spice before. Trying to branch out in how I cook. The spice added umami to my dishes in a way I didn’t expect.
I’ve only tried it in a couple dishes. It doesn’t seem to give a flavor of its own, but a earthiness and depth to the dish. Still experimenting happily.