January Recipe Challenge: Africa

In undergrad, I was a Development Studies major.  In other words, I studied the political economy of developing nations.  You’d think I would know a bunch about Africa (since it is the least developed region of the world), but honestly I don’t.

In searching for a recipe for the January Recipe Challenge, I wanted to stay away from Moroccan food, which I think is the African food that most people are (or at least I am) most familiar with.

In my search, I came across a recipe for West African Vegetable and Peanut Stew, which sounded delicious!  So in keeping with my peanut butter filled day I decided to give it a try.   I’ll be honest and say that I have no idea whether or not this recipe is authentic.  As I mentioned earlier, I know very little about Africa, aside from some political/economic history. This recipe just sounded interesting and from the little research I did, seems to have West African flavors.  I also liked how many vegetables it had: sweet potato, carrot, okra, green beans, onion… oh my!

In case you’re curious, the countries considered part of West Africa (as defined by the UN) are:  Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Ghana, The Gambia, Nigeria, Togo, Mali, Sierra Leone, Benin, Senegal, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania and Niger.

West African Peanut Stew

From Food & Wine

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
One 14-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped, with their liquid
4 cups water or canned low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth would work too)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cups frozen whole okra or 6 ounces fresh whole okra
1 cup frozen green beans or 1/4 pound fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch lengths
1/4 cup cilantro leaves (I thought we had some, but we did so I left this out)
1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
Lime wedges, for serving

First gather all your ingredients

Even super old curry powder should be okay (fresher is probably better.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this stuff is older than me)

Chop the onions, jalapenos (if you want this dish spicier then leave some of the seeds), ginger and garlic.  Word to the wise: don’t touch your eyes after chopping the jalapeno.  It hurts… Also make sure you don’t have any cuts on your fingers.  My finger is still burning!

Then sautee it in the oil for about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.   Then add the curry powder, stir and let it cook for a few more minutes (about 2).  Then add your peanut butter, tomatoes and water (or vegetable broth, I used water).  Stir and cook for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, peel and chop your carrots and sweet potato.  Then add it to the soup.

Simmer for 20 minutes.  Lastly add the green beans and okra and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Garnish with chopped peanuts, cilantro and a lime wedge!

The recipe said it can be served with rice, which sounds delicious!  Enjoy!

I thought this soup was pretty delicious!  It was also vegan in case you were wondering!

The flavor combination was really interesting and surprisingly creamy (probably from the peanut butter).  The carrots and sweet potato added an interesting sweetness.  Next time, I would make it a little spicier (maybe I would have tried using that spicy peanut butter from PB and Co… one of my many peanut butter jars that needs to be used) and cut my green beans a little smaller.

I know a lot of people don’t like okra, but seriously… try this!  It’s not slimy at all!

Have you tried any other types of African food?

I’ve had Ethiopian and Moroccan!  Both were REALLY good!  The lovely fella didn’t appreciate the Ethiopian much but I thought it was delicious (I can really appreciate any time I can eat with my hands)!


Peanut, Peanut Butter!

I love peanut butter!

When I moved from Berkeley to Ithaca, I didn’t have enough room in my luggage to take my 6 (literally 6, maybe more actually) jars of peanut butter with me.   Consequently, they’ve been sitting at my mom’s house waiting for me.

This morning, I decided to make the familiar toast with peanut butter and banana.  I reached in the cupboard for one of my jars because sadly my mom buys JIF, which is just really no good in my opinion.  I pulled out one that I hadn’t seen in a while: PB2.

Have you heard of PB2?

PB2 is powdered peanut butter.  Sounds weird, right?   According to the site,PB2 is made with premium quality peanuts that are slow-roasted to our specifications and pressed to remove the fat.” 2 tablespoons of dried powder (mixed with 1 tbsp of water) provides only 54 calories, which is nothing compared to the nearly 200 that 2 tablespoons of peanut butter would provide.

I forgot I even had it!  So I decided to use it this morning. I mixed it up in a small bowl then spread it on my toast.

Looks like PB right?

Honestly, if you try this, try it on something (i.e. pb and j, pb banana) not by itself.  On its own, I don’t find it to be particularly delicious. The texture isn’t really the same as peanut butter.  Peanut Butter is creamier and thicker (…gets stuck on the roof of your mouth), although I guess adding less water could make PB2 thicker.  Even so, I still don’t think the texture would be the same, as they advertise.
I’m not a dietitian or doctor, but I always thought the fat in peanut butter was good for you.  Cutting out the fat seems like cutting out some of the good stuff.  However, if you’re looking to cut calories I see where this could be a good option. I still prefer natural peanut butter.

Have you tried PB2?  Any thoughts on it or the idea of it?

Note: I bought this product on my own a while ago, it was not given to me to review.