Ndole – An aromatic Cameroonian spinach stew made of spinach and bitter leaves – flavored with garlic, crayfish and fortified with shrimp and beef. Comfort food at its best.
At the top of my favorite Cameroonian dishes is Ndole. Oh yes! A dish I learned to cook from my childhood friend Lawrence, who is an amazing cook.
If you attend a Cameroonian party it is always present and when cooked properly flies off the table. You know why?
It is absolutely irresistible!!!
A combination of peanuts, bitter leaves (substitute spinach), meat (stock fish, shrimp,) crayfish (dried shrimp) and oil. It tastes like stew spinach dip, but even better! With aromatic spices and meat. Can be prepared in so many ways with more or less vegetables and meat depending on personal taste.
If I could eat this every day I would, It is rich, high in calories and loved by many. Often referred to as the national dish of my home country Cameroon.
For my health conscious peeps; cut back on the the oil and peanuts. And go heavy on the spinach. (If you are watching your waistline.)
If using fresh spinach, wash the leaves well, rinse properly and then chop the spinach and blanch for 2 minutes. Frozen chopped spinach works just as well. If you can’t get a hold of bitter leaves then by all means use spinach.
Bitter leaf is one of those vegetables that can be cultivated anywhere as oppose to certain vegetables that can only flourish in certain temperatures and places.
So if you are a gardener you can plant it and enjoy fresh bitter leaf anywhere you are. True to its name, bitter leaf is very bitter. You have to wash it (rubbing the leaves together) thoroughly before cooking till most of the bitterness is gone. Using carbonated soda can also aid in this process.
- If using dry bitter leaves soak overnight and cook for 15 minutes using 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate soda. Rinse thoroughly and drain.
- You can use any combination of the meat. More or less according to preference
- Dry Crayfish can be bought in African Stores and if you are lucky you can get some at hispanic or asian markets. It is still delicious without it.
- Soak stockfish overnight to help tenderize the fish
- This dish is best with its time-honored mate, Miondo/Bobolo (fermented cassava) or how my niece calls it “bobolow” and is exciting in the company of Plantains (boiled or fried).
- 2 Tablespoons Maggi ( Bouillon)
- 1 large Onion ( sliced)
- 1 pound (about 2 cups )Groundnuts/Peanuts(Skinless)
- 1/2 pound shrimp
- 1/2 pound stockfish
- 1/2- 1 pound Stew beef (cut in chunks
- 4-5 garlic cloves
- 3/4 cup Crayfish (ground)
- 3/4 -1 pound Washed bitterleaves (sub frozen spinach)
- 2-3 cups oil
- In a large pan season meat with salt, maggi and onions and boil until tender depending on the choice of meat. Meanwhile, boil stock fish with salt and water; add it to the boiled meat. You should have about 3 cups of stock from the meat and stock fish. Reserve the rest or freeze it.
- Boil peanuts for about 10 minutes in a sauce pan. Let it cool and blend/pulse in a food processor or blender into a fine consistency use water to facilitate the blending .Add to the mixture of beef and stockfish.
- Blend one onion and garlic into a fine paste and add to the mixture of peanuts and meat.
- Pour in the crayfish and let it simmer for 10 minutes stirring frequently to prevent burns. Season with salt and Maggi. You might have to add more later
- Add the bitter leaves or spinach to the pot. Stir and simmer for several minutes more
- While the pot of ndole is simmering, heat oil in a fry pan or, preferably a cast iron. Add the shrimp, stirring constantly until they just turn pink. Slice and add the remaining onions stir for a few more minutes.
- Finally incorporate the mixture of shrimp, onions and oil into the pot of Ndole. Stir for a few minutes and serve hot with any of the sides mentioned above.