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Efo riro (Nigerian Spinach Stew) is a mouthwatering, savory, African stew made with spinach. Efo Riro is a Yoruba word that loosely translates to ‘stirred spinach.’ Efo means spinach and Riro means “to mix” – so efo iro translates to “mixed spinach.” In Nigeria, the vegetables used for this stew are Efo Shoko (Lagos spinach) or Efo Tete (African spinach), which are the popular local spinach varieties. In other parts of the world, any variety of spinach greens will do. This African stew is popular in some West African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon. This recipe is commonly made in Nigeria among the Yoruba tribe.


•½ cup palm oil or vegetable oil

•1 medium red onion chopped

•4 cloves garlic minced

•3 tbsp minced ginger

•1 ounce habanero chile, seeds and ribs removed, minced (include seeds if you love heat) •tablespoon tomato paste

•salt (to taste)

•1 tbsp tomato paste

•2 ½ pounds plum tomatoes, chopped

•¾ cup egusi or raw shelled pumpkin seeds

•4 teaspoons African smoked dried shrimp powder (or 2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika plus some fish sauce)

•1 pound spinach, washed, dried and roughly chopped

•3 large sweet (yellow) plantains, peeled and boiled in salted water until just tender


1.In a Dutch oven, warm the palm oil over medium heat, and add the onions, garlic, ginger, chile and a couple pinches of salt.

2.Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown and sweet, about 15 minutes. 3.Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for 3 minutes.

4.Add the tomatoes and a few generous pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and partly cover the pan.

5.Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has cooked to a rich tomato-soup consistency, about 25 minutes.

6.Meanwhile, pulse the egusi or pumpkin seeds in a food processor or blender to a fine powder, until it just starts to get clumpy. (Do not overprocess into a butter.) Remove to a bowl.

7.When the tomatoes have reduced, add the shrimp powder (or smoked paprika and fish sauce to taste), and simmer 2 minutes.

8.Stir in water, a tablespoon at a time, to the bowl of egusi powder until it is a loose paste. Add the egusi paste on top of the tomato sauce and spread it out. Cover the pan and cook 5 minutes.

9.Stir the sauce all together; it will look like a thick porridge. Add a few splashes of water and increase heat to a boil.

10.Stir in the spinach, until wilted and tender.

11. Taste, season with salt (or more fish sauce, if using) and serve with boiled sweet plantains.

Tips When Making Efo Riro

•Only add the stock/water if using fresh spinach.

•You can leave the spinach in for about 5 mins more on low heat if you want it softer and less chewy.

•If you want the spinach stew to be less spicy, use only 1 tsp or 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper. What to eat with Efo Riro: Rice, Plantain, or Yam

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