Gbotemi is a Togolese spice mix that’s equal parts cloves, anise seeds, ajwain, ginger, and cardamom seeds, all toasted up and ground fine. I only had cardamom pods, but it was pretty easy to crack them and get the seeds. Ajwain is new to me – I know it’s used a lot in Indian cooking, but I’ve never cooked with it before. Full details on how to make gbotemi are on Together Women Rise. I can only find references to it online connected with gboma dessi, but it smelled so nice toasting up that I made a triple recipe – I’m going to experiment with it in other dishes!
As for gboma dessi – it’s a spicy stew of goat or beef, made with tomatoes and spinach (or amaranth leaves). There’s a really similar dish called shoko in Ghana, though the gbotemi spice mix only seems to come up in the Togolese recipes I found. I’m using this recipe from AfroGistMedia with one modification – I’m going to add the last of my piri piri peppers to the tomato paste – most recipes add lots of hot peppers!
I’m serving it with a side of akoumè – it’s also called pâté / makoume / emakoume in Togo and a thousand other names across Africa (ugali/ogi/pap, etc – xima in Mozambique). Fine corn flour boiled to a paste, usually served in a ball shape in the Togolese recipes I’ve seen – you pinch a bit off with your right hand, use it as a little scoop to pick up the stew.
Yum – this is a big spicy stew – the gbotemi is definitely cloves-forward with a lot of complexity. The beef is pretty tender and I’m glad I added the hot peppers. I’ve never had anything spiced like this and I really like it! I’m a bit awkward with the akoumè, but it works great as a starch to soak up the sauce.