Sunday, 27 February 2011

Bitterleaf and garden egg stew

Hmm…this recipe may not grab you at first or cause your saliva glands to work overtime; maybe it’s the bitterleaf which may bewilder some of those less familiar with this tropical spinach-like vegetable, or maybe it’s the garden eggs? What are those I hear you cry!? They are similar to an aubergine, off white in colour and an absolute essential in any Ghanaian pantry worth its weight in plantain. As winter draws its curtains for a 3 month hiatus, if we’re lucky (hey, May is the new August) my food thoughts turn to lighter ingredients, grilled meats and easy to rustle up dishes with lots of flavour, so what better way to mark this turn in the culinary calendar than to give you a final, heart warming recipe.

This dish goes well with plain white basmati rice, or, for the adventurous among you, chop up and boil a large, ripe plantain, along with half a chopped and peeled cassava. A side of hot sauce always goes down well.


5 garden eggs
A small bunch of bitter leaves
The above can be obtained from any well sticked African market. If you don't have much luck, susbtitute the bitterleaf for spinach and the garden eggs for 1/2 an aubergine.
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
1 400g tin chopped tomato
1 inch knob of ginger, finely chopped
2 - 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced.
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (seeds removed)
A few springs of fresh thyme
1 level teaspoon all-purpose seasoning
300 ml chicken stock
250g large fresh prawns
300 ml coconut milk
2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste (optional)

1) Wash the garden eggs/aubergine, chop into small pieces and place in a small pot of water and boil until tender. If using garden eggs they will become translucent, which is when you'll know they're cooked and you'll also need to peel the skin off them, but only when they're soft and cooked. Set aside.
2) Add the oil to a large pot with the chopped onions and garlic and fry until the onions soften slightly and then add the ginger, chopped scotch pepper and a touch more oil if needed and continue cooking.
3) Add the tinned tomatoes, thyme, seasoning and the garden eggs and continue cooking on a low heat
4) Tear the bitterleaf/spinach into the stew and gradually add the stock.
5) Lastly, add the prawns, cover the stew and cook for a further 10 -15 minutes.