The African Stewed Spinach also popularly known as Efo riro is a one-pot stew with layers of flavour. It requires quite a number of ingredients but little work from the cook putting it all together (as long as you already have all your ingredients prepped).


Efo riro is a yoruba Nigerian dish . Efo means ”Green leafy vegetable” or ”spinach”, and riro, means ”to stir”.  So basically, Efo riro simply means ”stirred leafy vegetable”. However, we just don’t stir this by itself, we stir it in a rich pepper sauce which is loaded with Meat, Crayfish, Dry Fish, and other Meat or Fish of Choice.

A fermented traditional condiment called Iru (locust bean)  is usually added to this stew which adds a wonderful depth of flavor to the stew. However, a number of people try to shy away from this super healthy condiment because of the smell which is why i usually do not add this to my soup. . If you are not a fan of Iru just like me then you can skip it.

Locust beans link below

 Crayfish is also a must for the traditional Yoruba style Efo riro dish , however, if you don’t have access to it, I will suggest you use smoked Fish or Smoked prawns to give your stew the much-desired umami flavour without adding seasoning cubes.

To make a good Efo Riro (stewed Spinach):

Get all your ingredients together;   The boiled Meat, Fish, Turkey, Chicken, or any other choice of protein. The vegetables that can be used to cook this soup are Efo Shoko or Efo Tete (Green Amaranth). If these are not readily available where you live, leafy or frozen spinach is a very good substitute. Very nutritious and can be eaten with rice or any swallow of your choice.

Heat up the Oil: I like to bleach my palm ilk before cooking Efo riro. If you are not a fan of bleaching palm oil so I simply add the Onion once the Oil is hot and while the Onion is cooking in the Oil, the palm oil too is cooking. That does the trick for me.

Fry the blended peppers:   My emphasis is on fry. You need to fry till the water in the sauce evaporates and the sauce is reduced. Please remember to pay attention to the sauce, you don’t want it to get burnt, so be sure to stir constantly till you achieve that thick consistency.

Season and add the Meat and Spinach: The sauce should be seasoned at this point with all those nice spices and condiments. Add the Meat, Stockfish, and dried Prawns or your choice of protein. Let it cook so that it can absorb all the yumminess of the sauce. Then, stir in the spinach.

Can Vegetable Oil be used in making stewed Spinach?

palm oil

 is used for making Efo riro. This will give you the indigenous flavour. However, I’m aware that Palm oil can be difficult to get in some places. In this instance, you can use vegetable oil as an option .

Can I skip dry fish?

Absolutely! Feel free to use Beef, Chicken, Turkey, or any protein of your choice.

Must I add locust bean?

As much as the traditional stewed spinach calls for locust bean, you can skip it if you can’t find it and if you do not like it. I skipped this in my recipe and it still turned out delicious.


  •  I usually blanch my Spinach before I stir them in the sauce – I do this by adding the cut spinach in hot boiling water on high heat then I take it off the heat immediately it reaches its boiling point. I then pour the spinach into a sieve and I rinse it under the coldest water I can get from the tap a couple of times in order to stop the cooking process.
  • When frying the Onions, don’t leave them to burn. Once it turns a bit brown, continue with the rest of the process.
  • Remember to drain off as much water as you can from the Spinach. (Excess water from the Spinach can cause your stew to be too watery)
  • I don’t always use tomatoes in cooking my traditional stewed spinach. However, I see no reason why it can’t be added especially if you are making a lighter version of this stew. Use red peppers instead for that unique flavour.
  • I love to use coarsely blended peppers for my stewed Spinach so using a food processor rather than a blender will give you that coarse consistency.
  • This stew is not a vegan stew, nonetheless, for a vegan version, I will advise you to use fried Tofu or mushrooms or a combination of both.
  • It’s very important not to leave the spinach too long on the stovetop, otherwise, the Vegetables will turn brown and lose most of their nutrients in the water.

For my sauce I used


Goat meat . You can go for any assorted meat and fish of your choice such as Beef, Shaki (cow tripe), Smoked fish, Dry fish or Stockfish 20 cl palm oil 10 bundles of spinach. You can use Efo Shoko leaves if you have access to it. Quantity will depend on your size of cooking. 9 red bell peppers also known as tatashe 4 tablespoons ground crayfish. 4 red onions chopped 1/4 tablespoon ginger powder 1 tbsp beef seasoning 1/2 tbsp Cameroon pepper 2 small stock cubes/ crayfish cubes. I also used crayfish seasoning for extra flavour. 1 sachet Onga vegetable seasoning. 2 tablespoons locust beans (iru) . Optional Salt & Habanero / Scotch Bonnet peppers (to taste) optional

how to make efo riro/spinach stew