Skip to content
My debut cookbook Savoring is now available for purchase!
Murielle Banackissa

Vegan Saka Saka (Congolese Cassava Leaf and Spinach Stew)

Print recipe
2 hours 45 mins Prep: 15 mins Cook: 2 hours 30 mins
Serves 6

Creamy, rich, comforting and hearty, this stew is one that instantly brings me back to childhood. It is delicious eaten alongside rice and plantains.


  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • 2 cups chopped red onion
  • 7 garlic cloves , minced
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 ½ pounds of cassava leaves , thawed and drained
  • ½ pound of spinach leaves , fresh or frozen, thawed and drained
  • ½ habanero pepper , chopped
  • 5 cups filtered water
  • 1 ½-1¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ tsp vegetarian chicken bouillon powder
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 green onions , chopped
  • 5 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • Chopped peanuts , for garnish
  • Spicy sauce , for garnish
  • Finely chopped parsley or green oion , for garnish

To Serve

  • Rice
  • Plantains


  1. Step 1

    Heat a large saucepan to medium high. Once hot, add oil and onion. Cook until translucent (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally.

  2. Step 2

    Add garlic and bell pepper and cook for another minute.

  3. Step 3

    Add cassava leaves, spinach, habanero, water, salt, bouillon and pepper. Stir.

  4. Step 4

    Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce heat and cook for 1 1/2 hours covered. Stir occasionally.

  5. Step 5

    After 1 ½ hours, take off the lid and cook for another 30 minutes, again stirring occasionally.

  6. Step 6

    Add green onion and peanut butter. Stir and let simmer for another 15 minutes.

  7. Step 7

    Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking and serve hot.

  8. Step 8

    Garnish with chopped peanuts, spicy sauce, finely chopped parsley or green onions and serve alongside rice and plantains. Enjoy!

Common Questions & Swaps

  • Where can I find cassava leaves? They are generally sold frozen in African grocery shops or markets. If you live in Montreal, I found mine at Le Baobab (5190-A Côte-des-Neiges Rd, Montreal, Quebec H3T 1X8).

  • What if I don’t have cassava leaves, can I substitute them? I would say no, because they are the most important part of this recipe and what gives this stew its very distinct flavour.

  • Can I substitute peanut butter with another nut butter? If you want to stay true to the original recipe, I would say stick with the peanut butter, but if you have any allergies or are intolerant to it, try swapping it with almond or cashew butter. However, I cannot promise that the result will be as good.

Vegan Saka Saka served with white rice plantains and spicy sauce
Vegan Saka Saka served with white rice plantains and spicy sauce

In honour of Black History Month, today I am sharing with you a dish that is near and dear to my heart: Saka Saka.

I was born and grew up in the Republic of Congo until the age of 8 and as far back as I can remember, this dish had a very special place in my childhood culinary memories. Although I would not have it often, every time I did, I would basically lick the plate clean – it was just THAT good.

Made of cassava leaves and spinach and left to simmer for hours, this dish is the kind of meal which flavours unravel exponentially with time. As you let the greens, the garlic, the peppers, the onions and the peanut butter all cook down together, it is like a rainbow of flavours starts appearing.

I have to admit, when I was first approached by a group of ladies who wanted to host an Instagram challenge for Black History Month, where we would share dishes from our country of origin, I was a little scared. I have never really attempted recreating dishes from Congo, just because I never thought it was something that my skills would allow me to do. PLUS: many of the delicious African dishes I grew up eating were not vegan.

Saka Saka, for example, is traditionally made with fish and since I do not eat fish, I really did not think I could manage to make it work. Lo and behold… I managed!

Vegan Saka Saka served with white rice plantains and spicy sauce

After doing a bit of research on the web, I found a site called International Vegetarian Union and it featured a vegetarian Saka Saka recipe. I was beyond excited! This recipe would be the starting point of my recipe development.

Because the measures were not as precise as I personally like, I kind of improvised some of the quantities and added some tweaks to the recipe based on my personal preferences.

The result: a creamy, rich, flavour packed stew that got my boyfriend more excited than I had seen him in a while….

I know this recipe might seem a little intimidating to some of you mainly because of the cassava leaves that are not as easily accessible as all the other ingredients, but honestly, apart from that, there is no way you can mess this recipe up. The most important thing is to really be patient with the cooking and let all the flavours bloom. This is not a quick dinner type of dish. It is a dish that requires time and love, but trust me, the result will be magnificent.

On that note, this will be the last recipe of February and I am so glad that I made it one about my heritage and one that celebrates a very important month, Black History Month.

If you guys decide to attempt this recipe, I would love to know your thoughts and feel free to share your result on Instagram and tag me (@muriellebanackissa).

Have a lovely day!

Discover more of my childhood classics:

Apple bourbon pop tart, cut in half with center showing
1 hour 10 mins Serves 8
Apple Bourbon Pop Tarts
Slice of vegan napoleon cake on a glass plate
9 hours Serves 8
Vegan Napoleon Cake
Coconut Cake on a sand surrounded by fresh coconuts and dried toasted coconut
1 hour 45 mins Serves 10
Coconut Lovers’ Cake
Plate of risotto garnished with cooked wild mushrooms and fresh sage.
1 hour Serves 4
Wild Mushroom Risotto
Rose Flavored Bounty Bars Cut in 2 with pink interior showing.
45 mins Serves 6
Rose Flavored Bounty Bars
Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies
2 hours 15 mins Serves 12
Dulce de Leche Thumbprint Cookies