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Spinach and Agushi Curry

Nassima Rothacker

Chef notes

Here's my twist on traditional kontomire or nkontomire stew — a delicious vegan spinach curry, to which you can add extra steamed veg of your choice to make it into a more substantial meal.


Chalé Sauce
  • 1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes or 9 ounces fresh tomatoes
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)
  • 1 red Scotch bonnet chile, deseeded
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons extra hot madras curry powder, preferably Rajah brand
  • 1 teaspoon extra hot chile powder, preferably Rajah brand
  • 12 fluid ounces Chalé Sauce (recipe above)
  • ounces agushi (dried ground melon seeds)
  • 8 guinea peppers, crushed (optional)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 5-10 fluid ounces water or good-quality vegetable stock
  • 7 ounces baby leaf spinach
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon alligator pepper
Grilled Plantain (optional)
  • 4-6 ripe plantains
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • sea salt
  • coconut oil, to cook


For the Chalé Sauce:

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend together until you have a fairly smooth paste.

For the stew:


Heat a large, heavy-based saucepan and add the coconut oil. When it has melted, add the onion and sauté over a medium heat for a few minutes until softened, then add the curry and chile powders and stir well. Stir in the Chalé Sauce and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes.


Gently stir in the agushi, using the back of a wooden spoon to break down any lumps that may form — the sauce should start to turn creamy and resemble scrambled eggs. Add the guinea peppers, if using, and the lime juice. Leave to simmer over a medium heat for a further 10 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick, add the water or vegetable stock a little at a time to loosen it. The color of the stew will have changed from pink to a mustard color.


Stir in the spinach and sea salt and black pepper, then simmer gently until the spinach has wilted.

For the grilled plantains:


Meanwhile, prepare the grilled plantains, if making. Preheat the grill to medium-high.


Using a sharp knife, peel the plantains by cutting the tips off each end and slicing through the skin lengthways (avoid cutting into the flesh), then use your hands to remove the skin. Cut the plantains in half lengthways. Rub with the ground ginger, red pepper flakes and sea salt, and drizzle with coconut or olive oil.


Grill for 12 to 15 minutes, turning over halfway through. Serve alongside the spinach curry.