African cuisine exhibits great diversity and superb taste. Recipes featuring vegetables and traditional spices are very popular and make for sumptuous meals. One such meal is ‘Ndole’ from the South of Cameroon. This dish originated in the coastal region of Douala but is a celebrated delicacy for people all over the country. The scientific name of the vegetable used to prepare Ndole is Vernonia amygdalina – however it is more commonly known as “bitterleaf”, Ewuro or Etidot depending on the region of Western Africa you happen to be in. The plant is named because of its natural bitter taste; it requires a complex but fascinating washing process to reduce its aridity. However, once cooked with tasty spices, dried fish, beef, and ground peanuts, this vegetable delicacy becomes a savory, mouth-watering meal, especially when served with ripe, boiled, or fried plantains.
Although a little time consuming to prepare, this dish is definitely worth it in its unique flavor!
- ½ pound cooked shrimp/dried fish/meat (optional)
- 2 cups of dried bitterleaf
- 2 cups spinach/collards/kale/turnip greens
- 1 large onion
- 1 cup blanched peanuts (groundnut)
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- 6 chopped tomatoes
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- 2 cups of water
- To prepare the Ndole soup, it is necessary to soak the bitterleaf throughout the previous night and then take out the extra water.
- Other vegetables to be used in the preparation like collards, turnip greens and kale should be chopped and blanched for five minutes.
- Take two tablespoons of oil in a pan, put in the crushed garlic, chopped onions and grated ginger and fry for a while.
- Put in the tomatoes and cook for a while on slow heat for three minutes.
- Add the green vegetables and cook for another five minutes.
- Cook till the vegetables are done and add the peanuts, cooking until peanuts no longer taste raw
- Make small pieces of the shrimp.
- Add the bitterleaf in small quantities
- Leave to cook for about 15 minutes
- In separate frying pan, our groundnut oil and place on the fire
- When the oil is hot add sliced onions and let it fry (not burn)
- Then pour the mixture into your pot of ndole
Your ndole is ready and can be served with plantains, miondo, bobolo, etc!
NOTE: Due to the rarity of bitterleaf and blanched peanuts except in specialty stores, other recipes have substituted the peanuts for peanut butter and bitterleaf for a recipe consisting completely of chopped spinach or kale. We haven’t had these versions but they may prove helpful to experiment with!