Zimbabwean Spinach neDovi

making sadzaA good friend of ours, Jairos, comes from Zimbabwe. He is a pastor in a shanty town called Woodlane Village in Pretoria East, which was established as a protectorate for mostly Zimbabwean citizens. We met him and walked a road with him whilst he was saving up for his lobola. As soon as he had the required amount ,he could finally be wed. We waited for years for this to happen. And when his bride accompanied him here, our Pastor decided to give him a wedding feast as a gift. And as I am the one that gets called when multiples need to be fed, I ended up as the chef for the banquet.

I researched recipes for days, and decided upon a main dish of a spicy chicken stew, accompanied by a spinach neDovi and Sadza, or rather my interpretation thereof. Similar to a sushi chef, that, in his training would be trained for an entire year to just cook the rice, a sadza is a way in which the prowess of a Zimbabwean cook is judged. It has to be perfect to be acceptable. I did not get the sadza right, but that is another story. What I did get right, to the critical acclaim of a few of the black Mama’s that came to thank me, was the spinach neDovi.

When I looked at the recipe I thought that it was just weird. Peanut butter and spinach? You have to be kidding! I read that it was an important meal supplement, as meat was scarce in such a poor country, and the nutrition of the spinach and the protein of the peanuts were an important aspect in their diet. This sounded very much like an article to say that you could survive in a blizzard on dry dog food. No-one told me that the dish would be so incredibly tasty.


Fresh spinach 1 big bunch
Onion 1 small, chopped
Tomatoes 2 medium, chopped
Peanut butter 3 tablespoons
Vegetable Oil 3 tablespoons
Water 50ml


How I went about it:

  1. Rip the step of the spinach leaves out. Whilst I love it, the tradition is not to use it.
  2. Roll the spinach leaves like a cigar and cut them cross-wise, so that you end up with thin ribbons.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the spinach and season.
  4. Add the onions and fry for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and fry for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add the peanut butter and a little bit of the water. Stir. It starts off quite thick but then gets more manageable as the liquids merge.
  7. Close the pan with a lid and turn the heat very low. Simmer for three to five minutes and it is ready to serve.

That simple.

Serve with sadza or mealiepap and a chicken or beef stew.


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