WHAT IS PALAVER SAUCE?
It is a West African stew with a chatty history. Also known as Egusi or Aghushi soup, this dish is very popular in Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia. Each country gives this recipe its’ own twist. The name Palaver is Portugese and means “to argue or quarrel”. Nigeria was discovered in the late 1400’s by Portugese adventurers trying to find a trade route to Asia. “There are many stories of how this stew came to be called “palaver” sauce. My bet is that it comes from the Portuguese word meaning “word,” or “speech,” or “talk,” palavra. While today’s meaning of the word in West Africa is that there has been some kind of trouble arising from an argument, in earlier days it meant “a parley between European explorers and representatives of local populations, especially in Africa.” Serve this dish with plain rice. (from the Ghana Cookbook)
SUGGESTIONS WHEN MAKING PALAVER SAUCE
- Stew Not Thick Enough
You can add your agushi powder pre-mixed with water during the blender stage below. But if you want to thicken your stew up a bit, don’t add water. Just add the ground seeds directly as a paste
- Mixed greens make can make up for meat
Here we give you two ways to make Palaver Sauce. Feel free to adapt either, including creating vegetarian versions, but just be sure to include plenty of greens. True-blue Ghanaians will see that both versions unabashedly omit the seasoning momoni (a pungent fermented fish). Using either version, the resulting stew provides a friendly mix where a lot of interesting ingredients get along very well together without any “palaver.”
- A Ghana specialty
Palaver Sauce is sometimes called kontomire stew or “spinach stew.” This is confusing, since “palaver sauce” often contains both beef and (usually smoked) fish and agushi (a Ghanaian melon seed), whereas kontomire stew is a less complicated version.
- Palm Oil
Be careful not to buy a cheap, horrible tasting palm oil. It can ruin your dish. Any oil that you’re willing to put into your food should not taste rancid.
WHAT PAIRS WELL WITH PALAVER SAUCE?
Back home in Africa stews and soups are served with a starch like cooked rice or yams. Taro root, cassava or just plain old potatoes will work as well. For complementary greens, okra or spinach are equally good choices. An ice cold beer like Guiness is a popular drink pairing. For wines look to Alsatian whites, Chenin Blancs or a Gewürztraminer. (written by Chef Stef)