Food & Recipes

Kontomire Stew | Palava Sauce (Recipe)

Kontomire Stew | Palava Sauce (Recipe)

Kontomire stew is a local Ghanaian stew that can be eaten with a lot of meals, it is delicious and can be cooked with various recipes. Here is the recipe for Kontomire stew prepared the Ghanaian way and this recipe is an easy procedure that can easily be applied at home.

What is Kontomire Stew?

Kontomire stew is one of the two components of an Akan classic: Ampesi. The key component is the kontomire leaves, which are cocoyams/taro leaves. It looks like a cross of collard greens and squash leaves, specifically it has the colour of collard greens but the shape of squash leaves. It is the staple greens in Ghana and it is the key ingredient in this recipe, and honestly, one of the nutritious backbone of this recipe. It is full of iron, vitamin A, C and potassium.

Kontomire stew can take on many forms. In the Asante culture (my tribe) we have a simple version called abomu which is steamed cocoyam leaves grinded with onions, pepper, tomato and topped with palm nut oil. But then we also have this particular version which is a tomato based stew with grinded bitter melon seeds, called egusi. This version is eaten extensively in Ghana with something very similar (egusi soup) in Nigeria.

The other key ingredient in this stew is the bitter melon seeds, which we call egusi. Do not confuse the bitter melon with the Asian variety. Melons are indigenous to tropical Africa and are full of edible seeds that we dry, deshell and use for a variety of recipes.

It is the West African version of chia or flax seeds in the sense that it is an indigenous source of omega 3s as well as healthy fats, nutrients and protein (not similar to chia or flax seeds in their consistencies). It is also a great egg replacer when it comes making vegan egg recipes.

Where Does It Come From?

Kontomire stew is said to originate from a meeting of some Europeans and the indigenous people of the Elmina before Ghana got its independence. The nick name “palava sauce” originated from there. Palaver sauce or palava sauce or plasas is a type of stew widely eaten in West Africa, including Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

There are other versions of this stew in other West African countries but the kontomire stew in Ghana is a bit unique in its own way.



Aromatics: Onions, Tomatoes, Ginger and Scotch Bonnet pepper are essential to any Ghanaian food REGARDLESS of whether it has meat in it or not. You cannot skip any of these ingredients, except the scotch bonnet pepper because its just spicy and if you can’t handle spice, it is not for you

Egusi: Bitter melon seeds. For this recipe you will need the powdered version. If you live in Canada, you can source this from this link (click here). But you can always find this at your local African supermarket. DO NOT substitute with squash or pumpkin seeds. They are not the same

Greens: So if you are in Ghana, you can use one large bunch of cocoyam leaves/kontomire. But if you are not in Ghana, you can use a variety of options: spinach (not baby because it will wilt a lot) and collard greens work well. I used one large bunch of kale for this specific recipe because it was on sale the week I made this recipe.

Mushrooms: This is optional but I love adding mushrooms in my stews to add a nice meaty flavour without the meat

Palm Nut Oil: This is optional. It adds extra flavour to the recipe but you can choose what ever oil you want

How to Eat Kontomire Stew
  • You can eat kontomire stew with boiled sweet plantain or yam.
  • You can also eat it with rice
  • You can eat with fonio too and it is absolutely lovely.

Below is the step by step recipe. You’re going to love it! Let us know how it went in the comment section below.

NB: Kontomire stew is said to originate from a meeting of some Europeans and the indigenous people of the Elmina before Ghana got its independence. The nick name “palava sauce” originated from there.


  • 15 Kontomire leaves
  • 4-6 small tomatoes
  • ¼ cup turkey berries
  • 3 med onions
  • pepper
  • 2 med smoked salmon
  • 1 cup melon seeds (akatoa, egusi, agushie)
  • ½ cup palm oil
  • momoni optional
  • 2 tsp grounded shrimp
  • salt as required


  1. Soak melon seeds in water, set aside. Wash kontomire leaves with a generous amount of salt to prevent itching of hands when cutting. Cut kontomire into desired stripes. Put the cut kotomire into a saucepan with little water and place on high heat. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn the kontomire after about five minutes of cooking to make sure everything is cooked through. Turn off fire and set aside.
  2. Blend two onions, tomatoes, pepper and turkey berries together, set aside. Remove the flesh of the salmon, break into two and remove the bones, break into desired sizes, set aside. Wash the soaked melon seeds and put into a blender. Add about ¼ teaspoon salt and just enough water to blend into a paste. Set aside. Slice the remaining onion.
  3. Pour palm oil into a medium saucepan, add half of the sliced onions and momoni if using. Fry till onions are softened. Add the blended tomatoes, onions, turkey berries and pepper. Bring to a simmer on medium heat. Add the salmon, salt and grounded shrimp if using. Cover and let simmer for 7 to 10 minutes till sauce is bare thickened.
  4. Add in the blended melon seeds, DO NOT STIR, cover and reduce heat to low. Let it simmer 8 to 10 minutes or till the blended melon seeds sets. Gently stir in the steamed kontomire. Add the remaining sliced onions, let simmer for about five minutes till onions are softened. Serve with yam, rice, cocoyam, cassava, plantains or sweet potatoes.

Serving options: Kontomire stew can be served with yam, plantain or rice or garri



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