Palaver Sauce Recipe

Palaver Sauce
F. Muyambo
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Total: 65 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings

Palaver sauce (also spelled palava sauce) is a Ghanaian green leaf stew which often consists of a mixture of meat and dried fish, cooked in one pot along with lush green leafy vegetables such as taro leaves, spinach or amaranth leaves (callaloo). The ground seeds of bitter melon are also added. These seeds are known as agushie in Ghana or egusi in Nigeria. All of these ingredients combine to give this stew a distinct flavor. 


  • 1 1/3 pounds rump steak, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons palm oil

  • 1 onion

  • 1 generous inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 4 to 5 ripe tomatoes, crushed or chopped

  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper

  • 1/2 cup bitter melon seeds

  • 1/2 cup dried salted anchovies, or crayfish, optional

  • 1 pound frozen spinach, chopped, or canned callaloo

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Finely chop the onions, crush the garlic and grate the fresh ginger. Place your pot on the stovetop, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of palm oil into the pan and fry the onion, ginger, and garlic.

  3. When the onions begin to brown, add the diced steak and allow to brown for only a couple of minutes.

  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and scotch bonnet pepper. Scotch bonnet peppers can add quite a lot of spicy heat so if you wish to tone it down, add the pepper into the stew whole.

  5. Mix half a cup of the agushie powder with water, enough to form a paste. Set aside for a few minutes.

  6. After the tomatoes begin to break down, 5 to 7 minutes, pour in the agushie paste without stirring. Cover the stew and simmer on a low to medium heat for about 20 minutes.

  7. For those who are adventurous and wish to use dried anchovies, soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes. Agitate the water, pour out and rinse the fish.

  8. After 20 minutes, uncover the pot. You will notice that the agushie has cooked and created a solid cake similar to bean curd or tofu. You may now break this apart and stir into the stew.

  9. Add the fish, followed by the spinach and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

  10. Check seasoning prior to serving. This dish can be enjoyed with rice or a more traditional side of boiled yams.

* If using crayfish, these are not usually as salty and can be added straight into the stew. If you cannot get a hold of the dried fish or crayfish, but would still like to replicate the flavor of palaver sauce, this can be achieved by adding some canned anchovies.