Last year the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Greece hosted cooking workshops for refugees and local women living on the island of Lesbos. Some of the women who took part talked to us about their experience and shared the recipe of the dish they shared with the group. Elisabeth, who is originally from Cameroon, shares her mouth-watering spinach stew with beef and shrimp recipe.
35-year-old Elisabeth has been living in Greece for two and a half years. Elisabeth has a strong work ethic, “Back in Cameroon I was a secretary and had a small shop where I sold cosmetics and other stuff for women.”
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“My life was harsh,” Elisabeth told us. “I had many problems with my husband, he was violent with me.”
When she arrived in Greece in 2019, Elisabeth was forced to live in the Moria refugee camp, which has since burnt down in September 2020. “I was shocked with the living conditions,” Elisabeth told us. “My life in Cameroon was harsh, but it was a normal life; I had my house, my hygiene. Moria was like chaos.”
Despite the difficulty of living in the camp, Elisabeth was determined to make a new life for herself. “I stood on my feet and I said to myself: “If you fall now, you made that journey, you came all the way here for nothing”.
Elisabeth received her refugee status in November 2019 and currently works for the IRC as a Cultural Mediator. “My dream is to return to Cameroon in 10 years, when I will be ready to make an NGO for women and children’s rights,” Elisabeth told us.
“I am not the same person I was before leaving Cameroon. I want to go back and fight, with all the knowledge I have now– and support other women that passed or pass through the same things.”
Elizabeth has chosen to share a recipe called Ndolé which she says is ‘“a heavy food for the stomach.”
Follow the recipe to learn how to make spinach stew with beef and shrimp.
- 2 and a quarter pounds lean beef, cut into cubes
- 18 ounces ndolè (bitter leaf) or frozen spinach
- 18 ounces raw peanuts
- 18 ounces potatoes
- 9 ounces large shrimps
- 3 large onions
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 leek
- 4 and a quarter cups oil
- Boil the peanuts for 10 minutes. Drain them and wash them a few times to remove the skins. You don’t have to remove all of them.
- Put water to boil. Add baking soda and salt.
- Add the ndolè or spinach.
- Cook for about 15 minutes, until the water starts boiling again and the leaves are soft.
- Drain and rinse the spinach. Press in your hands until the water is gone and set aside.
- Clean and chop the garlic and onion.
- Wash the leek and cut in thin slices, both white and green parts.
- Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan and add the meat cut in small squares and half the chopped onions. Add salt.
- Close the lid and let cook on high heat until the meat turns to gold.
- Add 4 and a quarter cups of water and let cook for 45 minutes until the meat gets very soft. Add water if needed to ensure the meat does not burn.
- Put in the peanuts with the rest of the onion, ginger, and garlic in a mixer, and add a bit of water. Mix until it becomes creamy.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them in four. Boil them in salty water until soft but still firm. Drain and set aside.
- When the meat is soft, remove it from the pot.
- In a clean large pot, add a bit of oil and put the peanut, garlic, and onion paste. Keep stirring. Add a cup of water and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring every so often, so it doesn’t stick to the pan.
- Add the meat in the peanut mixture in the pot and cook for 10 minutes on high heat.
- Add the leeks and let cook for 10 minutes on high heat, stirring occasionally so the mixture doesn’t stick.
- Deep fry the boiled potatoes until golden.
- Add the ndolè/spinach to the peanut and meat mixture. Cook for 10 minutes while stirring. Do not cover the pot.
- Wash and dry the shrimp.
- In a separate pan, fry some oil and add sliced onions and shrimp.
- Serve the potatoes with parsley in a bowl.
- Serve the meat, peanut, and spinach mix in a bowl and garnish with the fried shrimp.
Recipes from home
This recipe is part of our Recipes from Home series. These recipes have been shared by refugee and Greek women who took part in the IRC’s cooking workshops held at Nan restaurant on the Island of Lesbos in Greece. The aim of the workshops is to bring together local and refugee women, to promote common experiences and mutual understanding through the universal language of food.
The cooking workshops were supported by the Western Union Foundation.