Kontomire Stew and Our Cuilinary Similarities
Happy New year! More of Africa from our kitchen to yours.
Kontomire or Spinach stew is one of Ghana’s most famous sauces. It is also known as palava sauce to some Africans. Although, as a Nigerian girl, ‘palaver’ means ‘wahala’ i.e. trouble; this stew/sauce is far from it.
Okay, this Kontomire thing l started when a Ghanaian friend of mine wanted me to make some Kontomire stew for her. I was lost as to what she meant, so she said spinach/Agushie soup. Take note that Egusi i.e. Melon seed soup is what our Ghanaian brothers refer to as Agushie. Same name but cooked slightly differently. I googled and googled and most of the recipes I found on the internet were pretty much the same and that lead me to tweak it to fit.
Being African, I am almost always left fascinated at how similar our recipes and methods of cooking are. Even in Nigeria alone, one particular dish can have 6 different ways of cooking it; talk less of the whole of West Africa. It is the same with suya; a hugely loved delicacy in Nigeria; which is also loved in Ghana. Or is it the okra soup and their peanut stew? I once had a Ghanaian neighbor who made the most delicious peanut butter stew. Oh my goodness, the epic nostalgia I experienced after eating that peanut butter stew cannot be described. Kai! oto’ruto! (it was delicious). The only difference is that, Nigerians add scent leaves to theirs. In fact, Kontomire stew is known to the Yorubas as Efo Elegusi i.e. Efo and Egusi soup
One thing is this, Ghanaians do not only eat almost like Nigerians, the similarities is also in the speaking of their language, some of the Ghanaian language does sound a little like Hausa and some like Igbo. An old friend once told me that some people from northern Ghana do speak like the Hausas in northern Nigeria. I am not for sure which part of the north, but I have met so many Ghanaians who sound like Nigerians and also talk about how similar some of our languages and way of life are. But when it comes to pidgin English and of course Jollof rice, Nigeria wins. tee hee 🙂
In fact, I love Africa and I hope to share the Nigerian method of cooking Egusi soup in the future. For now here is some Spinach stew 🙂
4 plum tomatoes(roughly blended)
1 large onion(divided)
1 small hen and other assorted meats(cut up into bite sizes)
1 large dry or fresh fish(soaked and washed)
3 tiny garlic cloves(minced)
1/2 inch ginger(minced)
3 habanero peppers(roughly blended)
1 cup Egusi/Agushie(smoothly grounded and mixed with water to form a light and creamy paste)
2-3 cups chopped spinach
1 cup chopped kale or Ugu i.e. pumpkin leaves(optional)
1/2-1 cup palm oil
3 tbsp. crayfish
1 tbsp. dry pepper or chili flakes
salt to taste
Clean and season the meats with1 tbsp. crayfish, dry pepper, bouillon, salt and half of the onion. Do not add water. Let the meat cook in its own juices until almost dry. Add water into the pot and to the level of the meats. check for seasonings and cook until the meat is tender. drain meat from the meat stock and set both aside.
In a soup pot, heat up the oil. chop in the onions and sauté until almost translucent; then add the garlic, ginger and the cooked meats. Stir to combine; add your tomatoes and habaneros along with the crayfish. Cook until the oil has floated to the top. Pour in your Egusi and stir very well as you add it in(this prevents it from forming too many lumps). Let it cook for about 5 minutes; then add all your fish vegetables and seasonings(Add a little meat stock if you want at this point) Cover and let the soup Simmer for about 10minutes and viola! Enjoy with rice, yam or fufu.