Oh-la-la! Somebody say, Ndole! Ndole, how I looove Ndole! This meal which originates from the Littoral region in Cameroon consists a perfect culinary marriage of vegetable (bitterleaf) and protein (groundnuts/peanuts).
In this recipe I mixed dried bitterleaf with some spinach. I wanted the spinach for its freshness and also to neutralise the bitter taste of the bitterleaf. If you wish, you could make this just with spinach. For me, I always want the bitterleaf in there. That’s why it is Ndole.
Due to its unbeatable taste, Ndole often answers present at Cameronian occasions. It is definitely a crowd-pleaser. If you have never made this before, try it and it will be ” love at first cook” for you.
I love making my Ndole with beef or beef feet (foot cow) but this time I had just stock fish at home and I wasn’t about to take a 20 minute trip to a store to get my choice meat. Like they say, use what you have to get what you want. Since I had stock fish at home so I decided to add shrimps to it in order to make it a seafood version of the meal. Absolutely ah-mazing! If you are not a fan of shrimps, seafood and other things like that please just use regular meat. It works just fine.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
2 cups of peeled groundnuts (also called called peanuts)
3 cups of bitterleaf and/or spinach
Half teaspoon of baking SODA (for blanching vegetables)
1/4 cup crayfish- coarsely blended
2 pounds of boiled beef/beef feet/smoked fish/stock fish/shrimps
5 cloves of garlic
1 inch of ginger
1 maggi crevette (crayfish seasoning cube)
2 regular seasoning cubes (maggi or knorr)
1 large onion
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 habanero pepper (totally optional)
Here is how to make lovely Ndole
I used a blend of dried bitterleaves and fresh spinach so I started out by soaking my bitterleaf. So soak your bitterleaf if dried before blanching. If using fresh bitterleaf, skip this stage.
Put your groundnuts in a pot and let it boil. I purchase already peeled groundnuts from the store. When boiling, put just enough water to slightly cook the groundnuts so you do not have to throw any.
Here are the cooked groundnuts with very little water left which I used in the blending process.
If using shrimps, season them with a little salt (and white pepper if you wish) and set aside to marinate.
Chop up your spinach.
Start the boiling and blanching process. Put water in a pot to boil and put in salt and baking soda. The baking soda helps the vegetables retain their green colour just like “Akangwa” or “Kangwa” (lime stone). However, I have read that baking soda may harm some nutrients in vegetables so if that is a concern to you, you may want to skip that. When water is boiled, put in bitterleaf and stir. The baking soda of kangwa causes it to foam.
Use the tip of your finger to check the bitterleaf for softness.
If soft enough, add in the spinach and turn off the stove. Let it sit for TWO minutes. If you leave the spinach in there for too long, it will get too soft and you may not like it. So two minutes it is. Look at that contrast in colour between the dried bitterleaf and fresh spinach!
Pour vegetable onto a strainer and immediately run cold water on it. If you do not do this, the heat will continue to cook the vegetables much to your disadvantage. When you have rinsed thoroughly, use both hands to roughly kill the vegetables then you squeeze and keep in a bowl. Note: slightly more vegetable than the amount below made it to the pot.
Peel garlic and ginger and chop half of your onions then put in a blender plus your boiled groundnuts and pepper (if using). I used the small compartment of my blender because it does the job better for me. I had to blend the groundnuts in three batches.
Blend that baby to perfection and by perfection I don’t mean a very smooth paste like pap. It should be SLIGHTLY rough like ground egusi mixed with water.
Haha! Good things are happening here. Go to the pot which contains your boiled meat and/or fish and its stock. Here is my pot of stock fish AKA stocky. When you love something so much, you give it a pet name. So for the love of stock fish, I named mine stocky. In Cameroon, stock fish is locally called, “Mukanjo.” Here is my pot of stocky (Oops! Looks like I already said that.)
Bring to boil then add your blended groundnuts and bring to boil. Let the aroma bless your home!
Add in crayfish and stir:
Then let the veggies go in.
Give that a good mix, let it simmer for about 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
Here is maggi crevette, the crayfish seasoning cube. I often add this to boost the flavour in dishes that have crayfish as an ingredient. So add in this baby and the other seasoning cubes. Taste to ensure seasoning is balanced.
Remember the left over half onion? Chop it up. Put oil to heat up in a skillet and saute the onions. Oh baby!
Add in the shrimps. Oh honey!
The shrimps are done when they turn pink. Add them to your pot of vegetable and groundnuts. Oh my!
Ndole is ready! Oh God!
Serve with boiled plantains, boiled yams or miondo. You can even eat this deliciousness with boiled rice or garri. It is goooood!
I had mine with ripe plantains. I was too impatient to let my plantains boil to perfection. That’s the power of Ndole!
For a healthier version of this dish, totally omit or reduce the oil.
Please, please, please if you try this recipe do let me know. I really appreciate your feedback.