Friday, October 10th, 2014

West African Vegetarian Peanut Stew

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I think I’ve just discovered the most satisfying, hearty vegan recipe known to mankind. Imagine what you get when you cross an Indonesian satay with an Indian curry—you end up with a West African peanut stew. This traditional stew (also known as groundnut stew, domoda, or maafe) is usually made with meat and vegetables. My version forgoes the meat but bolsters it with a bounty of sweet potatoes, eggplant and okra. The vegetables are enveloped by a silky sauce of tomatoes, aromatics, a mouth-tingling spice mixture and, the magical ingredient, peanut butter. The nuttiness and richness of the nut butter provides so much depth and substance to this stew. It’s really, really, delicious. I’m not vegan, but I think I could be if I could indulge regularly in this dish.

on deckI was inspired by a book I read for my book group (no, not a cookbook, though I have collected enough of them to stock a small store) but a brilliant novel called Americanah written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Americanah is a smart, thoughtful, insightful story about race, class and immigration in America. I loved the book and I especially loved how the author muses about the foods and flavors of her African homeland. When the book group met at my home to discuss the book, it seemed only fitting that I serve up something from her world.

Adichie detail, editedI am grateful to be part of this amazing group of smart women readers. The book group has been together for almost twelve years and I’ve been participating for six of them. We have read 140 books and counting, and there is nothing lightweight about our reading list! Had I not joined, I may never have kicked my habit of reading British mysteries or realized that absorbing cookbooks from cover to cover isn’t ever going to be as enlightening as reading War and Peace or Methland.

I wasn’t the only one inspired by this great read.  Kate True, a talented artist in the group, was so moved by the book that she is working on this beautiful portrait of the author. (Are you feeling the love, Chimamanda?) Kate also helped me with some of the photos in this post. (Thank you, Kate.)

If you haven’t read Americanah yet, I highly recommend that you hightail it to the bookstore or library today and get yourself a copy. And if you haven’t ever made or tasted a West African peanut stew, stop by the market on your way to or from wherever you find it. They’re truly both a treat.

 

 

West African Vegetarian Peanut Stew

Serving Size: 6

Garnish stew with chopped red chili, roasted peanuts and roughly chopped mint.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¾ cup peanut butter
  • 1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • ¾ pound sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 4 ounces okra, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (1 cup)

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, ginger and garlic and sauté until soft, about 7 minutes. Add spices, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring until color has turned to brick red, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add 7 cups water and whisk in peanut butter. Add vegetables and bring to a boil. Adjust heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper and serve in individual bowls. Garnish with chili, chopped peanuts and chopped mint.
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Maria Maffei
October 10th, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Perfect timing, Eva. I’ve got veggie friends coming to dinner tomorrow nite. I will prepare it for them. I just wish it called for spinach, cuz I’ve got a big bag of baby spinach I need to use. 4 oz. is equivalent to 1/4 lb, right?

Maria Maffei
October 14th, 2014 at 8:54 pm

This is a keeper. Will be a definite go to for vegan friends .. and others. I liked the addition of the spinach .. it added nice contrast.

Eva
October 15th, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Glad the spinach worked out for you Maria. I think the stew can be easily adaptable to many vegetables.

~ Carmen ~
October 23rd, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Hooray for vegetarian stews. This one in particular looks so satisfying topped on the bed of rice. :] // itsCarmen.com ☼ ☯

Eva
December 22nd, 2014 at 11:48 am

Thanks Carmen

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