Yam Spinach Bitterleaf Stew


It has been a minute since my last blog post (to say the least), but I have a brand new recipe for you! If you’ve attended a Naija Flavor: Vegan Nigerian Cuisine Pop-Up dinner, you may have had the chance to try this incredible dish. If not, you have the chance now!

Bitterleaf is this splendid leafy green that is used in many Nigerian dishes. It is also, in my opinion, a cure for just about any everyday ailment you might have. I use it to help with menstrual cramps and low iron, headaches and bellyaches. It is very bitter at first, but becomes more mild over time as you cook it into a stew or soup.

Soon I will create a blog post dedicated entirely to this versatile plant, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with the advice of my father, perhaps bitterleaf’s greatest fan: “sometimes life is like the bitterleaf, you have to chew through the bitter to get to the sweet.”

I still use the dried bitterleaf from my father’s yard when I cook, but you can find it at most African markets. If you’re here in Portland, my favorite spot for ingredients for Nigerian cooking is Mama Pauline’s African Market. They have everything!

Much love and enjoy!

Yam Spinach Bitterleaf Stew
2 large yams
1 lbs of spinach, roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 black radish (for garnish – feel free to use another type of radish or experiment with edible flowers or just a nice lime wedge!)
1 cup water
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 Tbsp red palm oil (you can substitute avocado oil or more coconut oil if red palm oil isn’t readily available)
2 Tbsp dried bitterleaf
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp salt
1 cup chickpeas, cooked (optional)

For garnish:
Thinly slice the black radish into small rounds. Rub the rounds with salt and soak in
a dish with water.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and chop yams into ½ in cubes. Toss cubes
with melted coconut  oil and 1 tsp salt. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake
for 20 minutes or until soft on the inside and golden brown on the outside.
While the yams are baking, dice the onion and mince the garlic. In a pot, heat the red
palm oil over medium-high heat. Add yellow onion, thyme and bitterleaf and sauté
until the onions are translucent. Add spinach, chickpeas (if you want to add a bit more protein to the dish), water and salt and simmer for five minutes.

When the yams are done, add them to the spinach and bitterleaf stew. Add the fresh
garlic, turn off the stove and put a lid or cover over the pot. This cooks the garlic
only slightly and adds a nice flavor to the stew. Remove the black radish from the
dish of water, pat dry with a paper towel and use as a garnish. Serve over brown rice. Serves four.