Fumbwa Recipe (Congolese Wild Spinach Stew)

Fumbwa Recipe (Congolese Wild Spinach Stew) in a white bowl

The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  • Total: 65 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings

Congolese cooking techniques are quite unique in the sense that green leafy vegetables are boiled down with onions and tomatoes, prior to adding palm oil, whereas, in other regions, the onions and tomatoes are usually sauteed first. Palm oil is therefore used more as a flavor enhancer and natural food coloring rather than just as a cooking oil for sauteing or frying.

Now your next question may be how to make this dish if Fumbwa leaves are not available. After searching online, you may see suggestions of collard greens and kale instead; a close study of Fumbwa recipes will reveal that the resulting dish is quite smooth and creamy. Therefore, we would recommend chopped baby spinach, cocoyam (taro) leaves or finely chopped or pounded pumpkin leaves (although these can also be slightly rough).

Ingredients

  • 11 ounces/300 grams baby spinach (finely chopped) 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 spring onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 cup smoked catfish (soaked and rinsed then chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons red palm oil
  • 1 cup ground peanuts (or 4 heaping tablespoons of peanut butter)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Fumbwa Recipe (Congolese Wild Spinach Stew) ingredients spinach, water, onion, garlic, tomatoes, stock cube, smoked fish, palm oil, ground peanuts

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  2. Bring the water to a simmer in a large pot, and add the spinach.

    spinach boiling in water in a large pot

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  3. Once they have reduced in volume by about half, add the spring onions, garlic, and tomatoes and continue to simmer. Crumble the chicken stock cube into the pot and mix well.

    spinach, tomatoes, onions, garlic and stock cube in a large pot with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  4. Make sure all bones and skin have been removed from the smoked fish, then add them to the pot. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

    smoked fish in a large pot with spinach, tomatoes, onions, garlic and water

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  5. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of red palm oil into the pot.

    mixing spinach, tomato and onion mixture in a large pot with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

  6. Add the peanut butter and allow to melt over gentle heat. Stir it into the dish and allow to simmer for 10 minutes until ready to serve.

    peanut butter in a large pot with spinach, tomato and onion mixture, mixed with wooden spoon

    The Spruce / Abbey Littlejohn

Tips

  • This dish is traditionally served with fou fou (fufu) or boiled plantains.
  • Take care with the addition of salt or stock, especially if the smoked fish is salty.