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Monday, October 8, 2012

Tigadegenan...Mafe...West African Peanut Stew

Whatever you wanna call it, this is my all time favorite West African meal. When I went to Mali for my last semester of college, this was one of the few dishes I ate. Not because I didn't try everything, but because in West Africa - especially Mali, there are only a few meals to make. Peanuts are everywhere in Mali - fresh, crunchy, and toasted over an open fire so that you can taste the char. So peanut butter (or peanut paste as it's called there) is abundant. It's not eaten with fluff on sandwiches though, it's made into this savory sauce that's served with mutton or chicken over rice with vegetables. This recipe comes from my colleague Jennifer Kawatu who has mastered the recipe with US ingredients and tools...it's right-on.

PS - this is the chicken version, not the mutton version ;)

1/2 jar natural peanut butter - no chunks, no sugar added (this is very important)
1 small can of tomato paste
1-2 onions, finely chopped
1 hot pepper or tsp of cayenne
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt (add more to taste)
3/4 lb of chicken thighs, quartered
1 carrot, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1/2 eggplant cut into 1/2 inch pieces
cabbage - about a quarter of a head, cut into wedges

1. Heat a few tsp of olive oil a large dutch oven over medium high heat.

2. Add the chicken and brown. Add the onions and cook until very tender.

3. Add vegetables and about 2 cups of water. Cook until veggies begin to soften.

4. While veggies cook, make a paste with the tomato paste and peanut butter. Add water until soupy consistency and easy enough to stir, keeping it thick.

5. Add the peanut/tomato paste mixture to the pot with chicken, stir well and turn temp down to medium low. Cook for about a half hour, adding a little water as needed (this should be a fairly thick but not pastey sauce). Cover and and let simmer until the oil from the peanut butter rises to the top in pools of red. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Do not stop cooking until this happens or it will taste only like peanut butter and not the sauce.)

6. Serve over white rice.

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