Beef and Spinach Stew (Gboma Dessi) (Tested)

Serves     4-6


2 to 3 tbsp. red palm oil (a must have ingredient for authentic results and flavor, but regular oil can be substituted)
2 lbs. stewing beef, cut into cubes
3 small yellow or white onions, peeled and sliced thin
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger root
2 to 4 piri piri hot peppers, depending on taste (these peppers are hot!)
2 beef bullion cubes
3 cups water
14 oz. canned tomato sauce
1 ½ tbsp. Gbotemi spice
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. fresh spinach (about 2 large heads)


In a large wide frying pan, heat a couple tablespoons of oil. Add half of the beef cubes and brown on two sides over medium heat. Remove to a plate and brown the second batch of meat. Remove again.

Sauté the onions in the same pan, if you need a bit more oil add another tablespoon. When the onions are softened and colored, add the garlic, ginger and hot peppers and sauté for a few more minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the spinach, and simmer covered for about 3 hours. The meat must be absolutely tender when pierced with a fork. I used pre-cut beef cubes from the butcher and they were on the large side and it took 3 hours. If your beef cubes are on the small side it may take less time.

Check every so often to see if it needs a bit more water added and stir to make sure it is not sticking to the pan. Remove the cover during the last half hour of cooking if the stew is looking soupy and you want to reduce it a bit.

In the meantime, you can prepare the spinach. I prefer to use large mature heads of spinach for this dish rather than pre-washed baby spinach. It holds up better and you can use all the stems as well. Remove the root end of the spinach and wash well in a couple changes of water. Put the spinach with the water still clinging to the leaves into a large pot and cover with a lid. Steam the spinach for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice until it is all wilted. Remove and drain, let cool. Coarsely chop the spinach and set aside until ready to add to the stew.

When the stew is ready, taste for seasoning and add the spinach, warm through for a minute or so. Serve in bowls accompanied by Djenkoume.


Notes and Instructions

Recipe adapted from

Photo credit: Linda McElroy