Kontomire Stew

Ghanaian Cuisine: Ampesi & Kontomire Stew

Kontomire stew holds a special place in the hearts and palates of Ghanaians as a beloved staple dish. Traditionally prepared with cocoyam leaves, known as kontomire leaves, this flavorful stew has evolved to accommodate modern tastes by incorporating frozen or fresh spinach. While it can be enjoyed as a vegan dish, traditional versions feature an array of seasonings that may include dried, canned, fresh, or even cured/fermented fish.

Ampesi, on the other hand, refers to boiled plantain and yam, which perfectly complements the rich flavors of kontomire stew. One of the remarkable aspects of this dish is its abundant use of greens, making it a nutrient-packed delight. It is crucial to dispel any misconceptions that African cuisine cannot be healthy or that substitutions detract from its proud African heritage.

Ghanaian cuisine has a vibrant culinary history, showcasing a diverse range of flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques. Kontomire stew represents the creativity and adaptability within Ghanaian cooking, allowing for modifications to suit different dietary preferences and health goals. By substituting ingredients or adjusting seasonings, this beloved dish can maintain its African roots while embracing a healthier approach.

Spinach, a popular alternative to cocoyam leaves, adds its own nutritional benefits. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, spinach offers a vibrant green color and a delightful taste. It seamlessly blends with the traditional flavors of kontomire stew, infusing it with a fresh and wholesome twist.

For those who prefer a vegan or vegetarian version, eliminating the use of fish and focusing on plant-based seasonings can still deliver a delicious and satisfying kontomire stew. By utilizing herbs, spices, and other flavorful ingredients like onions, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers, the stew can maintain its distinctive taste and showcase the diversity of African spices.

It’s important to celebrate the adaptability and versatility of African cuisine. Ghanaian dishes like kontomire stew highlight the fusion of traditional and modern elements, emphasizing that health-conscious substitutions can coexist with the rich culinary heritage of the region. By embracing healthier ingredients and preparation methods, we can further promote the beauty and nutrition of African cuisine.

So, whether you savor kontomire stew with cocoyam leaves or opt for the contemporary spin with spinach, remember that the heart and soul of Ghanaian cuisine lie in its ability to evolve while preserving its unique flavors and cultural significance. Let’s celebrate the richness of African culinary traditions and explore the vibrant flavors that nourish both body and spirit.


  • 4 bunches 600 g. spinach, fresh or frozen
  • 2-3 large tomatoes diced
  • 1 habanero pepper or more to taste
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 large or 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. smoked shrimp powder optional
  • 1 shrimp or chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 to 1 inch piece momoni fermented fish (optional)
  • 1 canned mackerel in tomato sauce optional
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup egusi ground melon seeds
  • 3 tablespoons to 1/2 cup vegetable oil or palm oil more traditionally if using vegetable oil, use 3 tablespoons. If using palm oil, use 1/4 to 1/2 cups.
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
  • Boiled yam or plantain (green or ripe), or rice
  • Boiled egg
  • Sliced avocado

How to prepare

Kontomire Stew is a popular Ghanaian dish traditionally made with cocoyam leaves but can be prepared using spinach as well. This nutrient-packed stew can be modified to suit different tastes and dietary preferences. Here’s a summary of the steps to prepare it:

  1. Blend ginger, garlic, and habanero peppers with water.
  2. Cut your kontomire into pieces. If using fresh spinach, remove stems and chop.
  3. Sauté sliced onions until soft and slightly browned.
  4. Add parsley, bouillon cube, smoked paprika, shrimp powder, and momoni (fermented fish) to the pot and sauté until fragrant.
  5. Add the blended ginger, garlic, and habanero mixture and sauté briefly.
  6. Add diced tomatoes, and simmer.
  7. Simmer until the stew thickens and some water evaporates.
  8. Stir in egusi (melon seeds) and simmer without stirring.
  9. Add kontomire /spinach, cover, and let it wilt.
  10. Gently break up canned mackerel and simmer.
  11. Serve hot with boiled yam, or plantain, along with an egg and sliced avocado.

Enjoy the flavors and nutrients of this traditional Ghanaian stew that showcases the adaptability of African cuisine while maintaining its cultural roots.

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Sophia Celestina Apenkro

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