Palava (or Palaver) sauce is a typical West African dish, which is generally made with lots of fish and meat. In this veganized version, I’ve simply omitted those proteins, which I serve on the side: seasoned and fried tofu cubes. I eat this dish with white (Basmati) rice and a serving of boiled or fried plantains. This European version uses swiss chard instead of the cocoyam leaves (Kontomire) that normally constitute the recipe.
- 250 ml palm oil (preferably organic and Fairtrade)
- 4 medium onions, finely chopped
- 4 large tomatoes, blanched, peeled and mashed
- 2-4 red chillies (hot peppers), finely chopped (optional)
- 3 bunches of swiss chard or spinach or 750 g frozen spinach, washed and chopped
- 100 g egushi (shelled pumpkin seeds or pepitas), ground in a coffee grinder
- 1- 2 tsp of asafetida
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a wok and fry the onions until golden. Add the tomatoes, pepper to taste and the chillies (hot peppers).
- Add the spinach. Cover and simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes or until the spinach is soft and cooked. Stir regularly.
- In the meantime prepare the egushi (or regular pumpkin seeds): rinse and dry and then grind them to a powder form. Add the egushi and stir them into the sauce. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes on low heat.
- Serve hot with boiled rice, yams, plantains, gari (coarse cassava flour), Banku (cornmeal dumplings) or any root vegetable, roasted, boiled or grilled.
Note: Palm oil is red oil from the red, tropical, palm kernel and is linked to a myriad of ecological and ethical scandals. Please try to find an organic and Fairtrade version or substitute with organic, Fairtrade coconut oil and some turmeric powder (this will alter the taste of your Palava sauce).
For the tofu cubes:
- 250 g of firm tofu
- 2 tbsp of Tamari or Shoyu sauce
- 1 tbsp of sesame or coconut oil
- Black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Drain the water from the tofu (using either your hands to squeeze the tofu (fast version) or placing the tofu between two plates and putting a heavy object on the top plate and wait 30 minutes to free the excess water).
- Cut into cubes (approximately 1-2 cm).
- Mix the other ingredients in an baking dish.
- Add the tofu cubes to the mixture; making sure all sides are well coated.
- Put the dish in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until the tofu is nice and crispy (you can also fry it in coconut oil in a frying pan).
- Serve as a side dish to your palava sauce.
Om shanti -ॐ शान्ति