About this recipe
Diced tomatoes and fresh onions (with their green tops, when available) make up the Malawian version of the classic French mirepoix and are the indispensable foundation of ndiwo. Okra, native to Africa, is a popular vegetable in Malawi but is not typically mixed with fi sh- or meat-based dishes. (Note: Some Americans find okra unpalatable due to its viscous texture. Cooking the okra with the onions until both are slightly caramelized diminishes most of the sticky liquid and what’s left aids in thickening the sauce.)
Place a Dutch oven over a low flame and allow it to warm for at least a minute. Add the peanut oil, onion, okra and a pinch of salt. Sauté until they caramelize slightly. Add the celery, bell pepper and bay leaf and cook for about a minute. Add the diced tomato, garlic and the habanero chile. Cook for about a minute, and then add the chicken broth. Turn up the flame and let the ingredients come to a boil. Turn the flame down low, and season the gumbo with pepper to taste. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until the sauce is thick and flavorful. Add the flaked fish and stir. Cook uncovered for another minute to warm the fish and allow its smoky flavor to season the sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed—keep in mind that smoked fish is often salty. Turn off the flame and stir in the scallion tops. Serve over good-quality stone-ground grits.