West African Meat and Spinach Stew

An African recipe found in “The Best of International Cooking”
published by Hamlyn in 1984

West African Meat and Spinach Stew

West African cuisine encompasses a diverse range of foods that are split between its 16 countries. In West Africa, many families grow and raise their own food, and within each there is a division of labor. Indigenous foods consist of a number of plant species and animals, and are important to those whose lifestyle depends on farming and hunting.

The history of West Africa also plays a large role in their cuisine and recipes, as interactions with different cultures (particularly the Arab world and later Europeans) over the centuries have introduced many ingredients that would go on to become key components of the various national cuisines today.

350 g/12 oz slewing meat (half pork, half beef)
1 bay leaf
350 g/12 oz spinach
6 tablespoons oil
2 onions
4 tomatoes
100 g/4 oz lean bacon
75 g/3 oz ground pumpkin seeds (optional)
salt and pepper


[1] Cut the meat into cubes, put in a saucepan, cover with water and add the bay leaf. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 1 hour, or until tender.

[2] Chop the spinach. Heat the oil in a pan. Peel and finely chop the onions and fry in the oil until transparent. Peel and puree the tomatoes, add to the onion and simmer for a few minutes, stirring continuously.

[3] Dice the bacon, add it to the tomato mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the ground pumpkin seeds, if used, and, after 5 minutes, add the spinach. Simmer for a further 10 minutes, gradually adding the stock from the meat and finally the meat itself. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4