Mbongo Tchobi is a spicy black stew typically eaten by the Bassa people of Cameroon. Its deliciousness has made it gain popularity in other parts of the country. The key ingredient is the intensely aromatic mbongo spice, from which the stew derives its name. It is burnt then ground before cooked into a sauce, hence the black colour.
The already ground black spice is widely sold in Cameroon and colloquially called, "mbongo spice" or "epice mbongo" in French.
In other parts of the world, it can be gotten from select African shops. Other ingredients used in the stew include tomatoes, onions, garlic, pepper and a nutty seed called njangsa in Cameroon, typically used in making peppersoup.
Mbongo, as it is fondly called is typically eaten with a starchy side like plantains or yams. I ate mine with white yam because there's nothing like some boiled crumbly African yam.
Watch me whip it up in the video below. Enjoy!
Mbongo Tchobi - Cameroonian Black Stew
- 2 large fish of choice (I used tilapia) about 2 pounds
- 4 teaspoons ground mbongo spice
- 30 seeds njangsa
- 2 seeds African nutmeg (Ehuru/Pebe) peeled
- 3 small seasoning cubes (Maggi)
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large tomatoes (or four small ones) roughly chopped
- 1 large onion
- ½ celery stalk - chopped
- ½ stem of leeks - chopped
- 7 garlic cloves- peeled
- ½ inch ginger root - peeled
- ½- 1 cup vegetable oil
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper (optional)
- 1 habanero/hot pepper (optional)
- 2 stems green onions (optional) for garnishing
- Clean the fish and cut into steaks. Rinse well, sprinkle a pinch of salt over and set aside.
- Put into a blender the tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, leeks, celery, African nutmeg, njangsa, mbongo spice, half the onion together with half a cup of water. Blend into a paste.
- Pour the blended mixture over the fish and let it rest.
- In a pot, heat vegetable oil. Chop the other half of onion and saute in the oil until fragrant.
- Add fish and spice mixture into sauteed onions. Scatter Maggi cubes over it and salt. If using white and hot pepper, add them at this stage.
- Cover and let it cook for about 15 minutes. After that, open and taste to make sure the seasoning is perfect. At this point, you could add a little water to lighten up the stew if it is too thick for you. Allow to cook for another five minutes.
- Serve warm with boiled yams or plantains.
Nice meal there, and easy to prepare too. Make I quickly go Cameroon go but Mbongo spice.
So easy, Bola.
Thank you so much Ma. Pre. If you don't mind me calling you like that.
I had missed "mbongo" for a very long time.
I saw the images two days ago on Facebook and I was inspired. After following your recipe, OMG! ?.
Thank you so much. I enjoyed and keep thanking you in my heart.
God bless you and the work of your hands.
Oh Pelagie, for some reason a lot of people started calling me Ma Pre right from my teens. Looks like I can't run from the name.
Thanks so much for coming back to let me know. Your comment totally made my day.
God bless you, dear.
Wow! I love this so much but didn't know how to prepare it.thnks a lot
You're most welcome, Mary!
May God !!! Aunty Pre I don't know how to say thank you for this wonderful dish.I have never done it on my own but made it today and sweetie and his friend were like "demm, baby you.......in fact short of words to put there lol .Thank you mummy. I feel like a real African woman?
This warms my heart so much.
Thanks for coming back to let me know.
Thank you so much for posting your recipes!! My husband is from Cameroon and I am American. He longs for foods like this, as you can imagine. I am so excited to try making this one in particular since he was asking for it just the other day. Hopefully, I can make is just like a "Cameroonian" woman. 🙂
Melanie, I can't believe I missed your comment. So glad to help, dear. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
Ma Pre i don't how to thank you. Infact your post made me know how to cook mbongo after thinking that i don't know and would never know how to cook mbongo be cause i thought it is very hard to cook. Thanks you and may God bless you and your hand work.
Thank you, Juliana. Comments like yours are the reason why I keep going. God bless you.
Landry Tafang says
I am so thankful for you kindness. I can't count now how many times de this following your recipe. my husband can't focus at work when he knows that he is coming home to this LOL.
Thank you so much
Haha you are welcome, Landry! Now I feel like making some. Thanks for the feedback!
ekeh desmond says
wow!!! thanks so much. mbongo tchobi is my favorite .but don't know how to prepare. from your post i surely belief i can now. may GOD keep inspiring you.
You are most welcome. Hope you enjoy your Mbongo!
Nice food, well presented. Yummy!!!!
It reminds me of my young age as a primary school pupil from the age 5 at Boa Balondo Government school. As school children we walked all the way from Boa to Mbongo for a Sunday Church service, and on our way back the then wife of the Chief of Boa, Mr Martin Fete will prepare same food which we share before going home to our parents. However we grab the sweet yam because were hungry and the old woman will share the fish to us. I hope you have not forgotten another type of dish of green plantain, dry fish and pepper? Things must have changed now because these were my experience between 1968 to 1975. I will try to talk to someone from either Boa Balondo, Boa Camp or Mbongo.
Thanks mum it is really interesting I need to try it right away hope the results will be superb
I made this today for my Cameroonian husband. I used chicken instead, and boy oh boy it was deeeeeeelicious. Thank you for sharing.
You are so welcome, Cindy!
I found all of the ingredients except Mbongo spice. Do you know if there is a large difference between Mbongo spice and alligator pepper? I’ve seen some places say that they are the same and some say that they are slightly different. I really want to make this recipe but want to make sure I can do it properly!
Hi EJ, I can't really tell you the difference between those 2 but I know the Mbongo spice we usually buy is a combination of spices, not just one spice. Hope this brings some clarity.
Thanks! I found the mixture of spices online. I made this and was very happy with it! Just how I remembered it in Cameroun 🙂