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Bowl of vegan Efo Riro

Vegan Efo Riro (African Spinach Stew)

  • Author: Shruthi
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 bowls 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Delicious Nigerian spinach stew with complex African flavors. This vegan efo riro uses mushrooms instead of meat and can be eaten with rice or by itself.



For the puree (see notes for spice adjustments)

  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 2 habanero pepper (adjust to your spice tolerance)
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion

For the stew: 

  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped finely)
  • 1/2 medium onion (diced)
  • 4 oz mushroom (1 package, I typically use crimini)
  • 30 oz of fresh spinach (see notes for frozen spinach or kale)
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil (palm oil is more traditional, but vegetable oil is easier to find and healthier)
  • 2 cubes of vegetarian bouillon (substitute with curry powder if unavailable)
  • 1 tbsp of curry powder (in addition to above)
  • 1 tbsp of iru, tahini or other umami seasoning (optional)


  • Boil water for blanching spinach - this recipe uses two pots to minimize cook time, but you can do this step in the same pot if you desire. If so, just finish blanching the spinach first, and then clean the pot before adding oil. See notes in post for blanching spinach (or skip ahead a couple of steps)
  • Add oil to a deep pot and heat it on medium flame
  • In the meantime, blend the red bell peppers, habanero peppers, tomato and onion to form a coarse puree (see notes) and set aside
  • Once the oil gets hot, add the onion and red pepper, and fry until translucent (about 30 seconds)
  • Then, add the puree and fry until the raw smell disappears (about 4 to 5 minutes)
  • While the puree is frying, blanch the spinach - as soon as the water reaches a rolling boil, dunk the spinach in the water for 30 seconds, remove from the pot, and wash under cold water - set aside
  • Add the bouillon, curry powder, and umami seasoning of choice (optional) and fry for 1 minute
  • Now add the mushrooms and let it come to a soft simmer (you'll notice bubbles appearing)
  • When bubbles appear, add spinach, stir it in well and let it cook uncovered for about 2-3 minutes
  • Serve hot with rice (or other traditional "swallows" like pounded yam or cassava)


  • To adjust the puree to your spice levels, you can reduce the habanero peppers, substitute red bell peppers with more tomatoes, or if you want to increase spiciness, add more habanero peppers
  • If using frozen spinach, make sure to thaw before using; if using kale, follow same instructions
  • I prefer to use a food processor because it lends more texture to the puree, but a blender would also work if you want it more fine
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Soups and Stews
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Nigerian

Keywords: efo riro, african spinach stew, vegan efo riro, nigerian efo riro