Efo riro (Nigerian Spinach Stew) is a mouthwatering, savory stew made with spinach and oh so flavorful! Who knew spinach could taste so good?
Raise your hands if you loved your leafy greens as a kid! Nope, that wasn’t me. Just trying to get my vegetables in was like a punishment to me. Not like I had a choice, my mama don’t play!
But there was one dish that would get me salivating every time – the Nigerian Spinach Stew, also known as Efo Riro, in my native Yoruba language.
What was not to love? This spinach stew transforms a bland vegetable like spinach into a mouthwatering dish you won’t be able to get enough of. You will eat it with everything and sometimes, just by itself.
This stew has turned a former spinach-hating kid into a Spinach Loving Queen.
What is Efo Riro?
Efo Riro is a Yoruba word and it loosely means ‘stirred spinach’. In Nigeria, the vegetables used for Efo Riro are ‘Efo Shoko’ (Lagos spinach) or ‘Efo Tete’ (African spinach).
These are the local spinach varieties that are very popular and easily available. In other parts of the world, any spinach greens will do.
Efo Riro is traditionally made with palm oil, spinach, peppers, ground crayfish, and meat. They are often cooked with two or more different meat varieties.
It is not uncommon to see a pot of spinach stew contain beef, goat meat, smoked catfish and tripe (known as shaki, in Yoruba). The more the merrier, right?
Spinach stew is popular in some West African countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon. The recipes are similar with only slight differences but my version is commonly made in Nigeria among the Yoruba tribe.
It is very easy to make and you will be amazed at how delicious this spinach stew is. I make this with palm oil and our traditional spices but substitutions are okay if you don’t have any on hand.
You can use regular olive oil and it will taste equally delicious though the flavors will be slightly different. You really can’t go wrong with this recipe!
How to make Efo Riro
Blend the tomatoes, bell pepper, habanero pepper and half of the onion together using a food processor. Chop up the other half of the onion and set aside.
If using fresh spinach, chop it up into smaller pieces and rinse in a colander, squeezing out as much water as you can. Leave it in the colander while you start cooking so that the excess water will drain out.
This will help prevent the spinach stew from becoming watery.
I like to use fresh spinach for this but frozen will work too. If using frozen, microwave for a few minutes till it begins to thaw out and drain the excess water.
Also, wash and drain the mushrooms.
Heat 1/2 cup of palm oil in a pot on medium heat, add in your onions and stir for about 2 minutes. Add in your blended tomato and pepper mix and add in your spices after about a minute.
I use bouillon powder, salt, crayfish, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Feel free to make it your own by adding your favorite spices instead.
If using fresh spinach, add 1/4 cup of water or preferably, stock. If using frozen spinach, do not add any water as frozen spinach already contains water.
Add the goat meat and mushrooms and any other meat of choice and let cook for another 5 minutes so it can soak up the flavors. For a vegetarian or vegan option, you can skip this part.
When it begins to boil, add in the spinach. It will most likely fill the pot and look like it might spill over but it wouldn’t.
Stir intermittently over a period of 5 minutes and the spinach will shrink considerably. Taste for salt and add more spices if you desire.
I like mine just slightly chewy so I don’t leave it in for more than 5 minutes but if you like it softer, you can leave it for a few more minutes on low heat.
This stores well in the fridge for about 5 days and also freezes really well.
In the hot summer months, don’t leave the spinach stew for too long outside the fridge or it will begin to go bad and not taste as fresh anymore.
What to eat with Efo Riro
Nigerian spinach stew goes great with a lot of different foods! You can eat it with plain cauliflower rice, shirataki noodles or one of our low carb fufu dishes.
You can also easily eat it all by itself and it is very filling that way too. These are my favorite foods to eat with it:
Looking for more ways to eat spinach? Check out this Creamy Spinach Cheese Bake. So delicious!
Efo riro - Nigerian Spinach Stew
- 8 cups spinach chopped
- 200 g goat meat or any meat of choice
- 2 cups mushrooms
- ½ cup palm oil
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 habanero pepper
- 1 onion
- ¼ cup water or stock, optional
- 2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp ground crayfish
- 1 tsp pepper flakes, optional
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste
- Blend tomatoes, bell pepper, habanero pepper and half of the onion together using a food processor.
- Chop up the other half of the onion and set aside.
- If using fresh spinach, chop it up, wash and squeeze, and leave in a colander. If using frozen spinach, microwave for a few minutes.
- Wash and drain the mushrooms.
- Heat ½ cup of palm oil in a pot on medium heat, add in your onions and stir for about 2 minutes.
- Add in your blended tomato and pepper mix and stir for about a minute.
- Add the bouillon powder, crayfish, black pepper, cayenne pepper and salt, and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
- If using fresh spinach, add ¼ cup stock or water and bring to a boil.
- Add the goat meat, mushroom, and any other meat you desire and let boil for another 5 minutes.
- Add the spinach and stir intermittently for about 5 minutes.
- Add more salt or spices if desired.
- Garnish with red pepper flakes, if you want it spicier and enjoy!