Bitter leaf stew also known as Ndolè in Cameroon is a stew made with bitter leaves andd traditionally with peanut sauce but also sometimes with egusi (melon seeds) soup or tomato stew.
For 6 people
- 6 balls of washed Ndole (or the equivalent in leaves)
- 300g grounded skinless peanuts or grounded melon seeds
- 3 large onions or 5 small ones
- Grounded shrimps (they are used as ingredients!)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Maggi cubes
- A little vegetable oil
- Salt, pepper and if liked, chilies
1. Prepare the ndole (take off the bitterness)
Wash the ndole or bitter leaves by adding them to boiling water with rock salt (to soften them), leaving them about 15 minutes and then drying out the water. Repeat this 2 or 3 times to remove the bitterness of the leaves and taste to assess if you may want to do it more. Make sure you leave some bitterness though, I mean that is the point of the leaf. Never consume the leaf without boiling them through and washing them at least once.
2. Prepare the meat / fish / veg
You can prepare your meat, fish or veg as usual, e.g. boil the beef with seasoning and onions, fry and seasoned chicken wings. Add cooked fish about 10-15 minutes before the end but make sure that dried fish and seafood is added towards the beginning to give its taste to the bitter leaves and soften their texture through. For those who want to try the option with no meat or fish at all, stir fry a julienne of your favourite vegetables! In this case to enrich the texture of the final mix, just julienne a handful of 2-3 types vegetables e.g. carrots, bell peppers and leeks.
3. Prepare the peanut sauce or the melon seeds sauce
You can get already peeled peanuts for more homogeneous texture, but these days, unpeeled peanuts are common too. You can of course decide to peel the peanuts at a later stage when they are easier to peel. The peanuts or melon seeds, whichever you use, must be thoroughly washed. Once they are cleaned, boil the peanuts (30-45 minutes) /melon seeds (~30 minutes) (either choice if microwaving, 15 minutes max) in water. Ground the cooled down peanuts/melon seeds with 1-2 onion and garlic, chili if you wish and optionally 1-2 tomato(es).
4. Give it more taste
Peel, cut and fry the onions in the oil. Add the dried shrimps (optional)… Another option here is to add tomato passata (just the blend a couple of tomatoes) at this point. Add the peanut or melon seeds paste and fry. Add water and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid the paste sticking to the bottom of the sauce pan.
5. Add the ndole or bitter leaves
Add the leaves of ndole. Then, season (salt, pepper, cube etc as required) and leave cooking for about 20 minutes. Add your smoked fish and/or cooked meat.
6. Finishing touches
The way that ndole is served is to heat up some oil, fry a lot of onions in it and before serving pour it all on the ndole (make sure the ndole is first poured inside the serving dish). That warms the dish up, ‘un-dries’it as the leaf has a tendency to dry out and gives a lovely presentation.