Cook Local – Palaver Sauce

I love the food in Ghana. As difficult as it may be for the average Ghanaian to comprehend my desire to remove meat and fish from their meat- and fish-based meals, I find that the vegetarian versions are nothing to scoff at. My second favorite dish is called palaver sauce (pronounced palava sauce) or kontomire stew.

IMG_2288I have read that the word ‘palaver’ comes from the Portuguese for ‘parley‘ and another source claims that palaver sauce was frequently eaten while discussing business. I suppose that both sources combined reveal the origin of this dish’s unique name. [The name ‘kontomire’ comes from an Akan word for the cocoyam leaves used to make the stew.]

Making palaver sauce at home was relatively easy, though I wish I had better tools to mash everything up properly. True kontomire is very thoroughly ground and mixed and typically served with boiled yams. The meat or fish is added to up the protein content, but cooks tend to offer me hard boiled eggs instead. I saw no reason to break tradition just because this meal would be homemade.

Below is the recipe I followed, with my own adjustments as always:

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • hot pepper (minced fresh or ground) to taste
  • 1 bunch cocoyam leaves
  • 3 tablespoons palm oil
  • 1-2 cups water
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons agushi (ground melon seeds), optional

Serve with boiled African yam, steamed plaintain or hot rice

I have yet to figure out how to work my blender, so the mixing was all by hand. Additionally, I had little desire to buy, boil, or consume the enormous West African yams, so vegetable stew was a meal of its own.


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