Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Amazing Dumboy and Liberian Stew

In Liberia, stew and dumboy is a beloved traditional dish. The stew is typically made with a rich blend of spices, vegetables, and protein, while the dumboy is a starchy, dough-like substance that is boiled and then added to the stew as a side. 

This hearty and satisfying meal is often enjoyed with family and friends and is considered a staple in Liberian cuisine, much like soup and crackers are a popular comfort food in the United States.

Liberian Stews are Amazing

Liberian stews are unlike most recipes. Liberian stews are hearty stews that combine numerous meats, fish, and vegetables in one stew. Bitter leaves alone have a bitter taste and are sold fresh or dried. The leaves are green with a robust odor and a bitter taste.

Note. There are over 200 species of bitter leaf. The leaves are used to make vegetable dishes but must be washed before eating to eliminate the bitter taste. Vernonia amygdalina, or Bitterleaf, is a widely used cooking vegetable throughout Africa.

How to Eat Dumboy

Dumboy is a dish prepared using various basic food ingredients. Dumboy is a staple food in Liberia and is what mashed potatoes are to traditional American cooking. It can be made using plantains, green bananas, cassava, yams, potatoes, cornmeal, rice, and millet. 

Dumboy and Liberian Stew
Dumboy and Liberian Stew

To eat dumboy, tear off a walnut-sized portion of the dumboy scoop up stew using your hands and bits of doughy dumboy. It is traditional to eat using only your right hand and no utensils. If you were to eat with your left hand, it would be both insulting and rude to those around you because usually, the left hand is reserved for bodily functions and the hand is never used for eating.

Dumboy and Liberian Bitter Leaf Stew Ingredients and Directions


Bitter Leaf Stew Ingredients

5 ounces of cubed beef

5 ounces of pork or pork sausage

2 skinless chicken thighs

3 smoked fish, flaked

1/2 pound peeled and deveined shrimp

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 onions, chopped finely

1/4 cup palm oil

1 bunch bitter leaf, chopped

Water to cover


Bitter Leaf Stew Directions

Add all ingredients except shrimp to a large pot over medium heat. Cover ingredients with water. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Add shrimp and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.

Now Let's Make No So Dumb Dumboy

Have you ever wondered why Liberians named a dish dumboy? The reason is that dumboy itself has a neutral taste and lacks any specific cooking personality, allowing it to complement the flavors of the accompanying sauces and dishes. It's almost like an unfilled dumpling, with a subtle, yet tasty flavor. Additionally, the preferred consistency of dumboy can vary, ranging from a soft and stretchy texture to a firmer and more dough-like surface.

Dumboy Ingredients

3 green or yellow plantains
1 medium cassava root
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 cup water


Dumboy Directions

In a large pot place the peeled and evenly cut plantains and cassava and cover with water. Boil until soft about 20 minutes. Place the salt, flour, plantains and cassava in a mixer and whip until the consistency of soft dough is achieved. Foufou should be much stiffer than mashed potatoes in texture. 

To eat dumboy, tear off a walnut-sized portion of the dumboy scoop up Liberian bitter leaf stew using your hands and bits of doughy dumboy.

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