R ecently, I’ve become impressed by the flavors of Africa. They satisfy my palette by hitting every taste receptor: bitter, salty, sour, sweet, and even umami. Even as they do, they still aren’t extremely pungent and that’s a good thing because sometimes you just aren’t in the mood for the spicy essence of Thai cuisine or complexities of Indian fare.
And if you happen to be craving peanut butter, this is a very good recipy to achieve that satisfaction.
Groundnut stew is a recipe that is popular all over Sub-Saharan Africa with various variations remain. Groundnut is another word for peanut used more commonly in Africa; however, next time you want peanut butter toy with your mate or mother and ask for groundnut butter. I don’t know why but that image amuses me. Due to the many variations of this recipe, there lays a wide assortment of optional ingredients to use. I chose the following ingredients on personal preference and due to their common findings in African cuisine. Corn is a main staple in Africa; they consume a lot of corn in various forms such as: maize, cornmeal, and corn itself. Okra is another popular vegetable used due to its adaptability to the climate. Tubers are just as common as corn in African and are often found in many recipes, Fufu (mashed tuber) being one in particular. Some notable tubers are potatoes, cassava, jicama, yam, yuca and so on.
So you can really add anything in this stew, preferably root vegetables, squashes, and aubergines. For protein, you can omit the egg and add more peanut butter, chicken, fish, or even throw in some beans; black eyed peas, kidney beans, or lentils would be my legume of choice. To serve, spoon over rice, millet, or if you feel up to the challenge, omit the corn in the recipe and make ugali - fermented maize dough formed into dumplings traditionally eaten along with stews or saucy meats.
One final note, make sure that you use pure unsweetened all natural peanut butter otherwise the stew will become too sweet due to the natural sweetness of the yam, corn, and the pumpkin.
West African Groundnut Stew
1 wedge of pumpkin, diced
½ of a medium yam or one white potato, diced
½ cup okra
½ cup corn
¼ cup green bell peppers, chopped
1 shallot, sliced thinly
4 large cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 small tiny chili peppers (thai hots)
1 cup broth or water
Splash of apple cider vinegar
½ tbsp peanut butter
1 hard boiled egg, cut in half
Few springs of cilantro (save some for garnish)
In a deep frying pan, spray with nonstick cooking spray. Fry the onions, peppers, chilies, and tomatoes. Once the tomatoes break down, add the seasonings, half of the water or broth and stir. Let that simmer for two to three minutes then add the potato. Cover and cook until the potatoes are just tender and the liquid becomes absorbed, about eight minutes. Pour in a little bit of vinegar to de-caramelize the pan, then add the remaining vegetables with the rest of the water and the bay leaf. Cover, lower to medium heat and simmer for ten minutes.
When the vegetables are tender, crumble half of the egg and stir that into the mixture with the peanut butter and some sprigs of cilantro.. If the stew looks to dry, add more liquid. Mine was fine but I have a tendency to like dry stews.
Cook for another minute or two then remove the bay leaf and serve over your grain choice garnished with more cilantro and the other egg half.