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)!

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12 thoughts on “January Recipe Challenge: Africa

  1. Anna says:

    This looks delicious! We ate at an Ethiopian restaurant about a year ago in Seattle, and the food was SO good. I’d like to try to recreate some of the recipes. You ate everything by scooping it up with a big pancake!

  2. Lauren says:

    I have a Peanut Tofu stew which is delicicious. It is basically all the same ingredients, except okra, then put half of the soup in a blender with soft tofu and mix. Then return the pureed+tofu part back into the pot. It is thick and delish!

    Cheers!

  3. louisianagrown says:

    I was obsessed with my high school French teacher who had once been a member of the Peace Corps and was stationed in Cameroon (i think). She said when she first got there, she was super skinny, but the food the women in her village cooked was so amazing that she puffed up in no time. For them, it is beautiful to be round, and they began giving her compliments… that made her cry herself to sleep at night. I’ve never tried any African food, but she made it sound so great, and this dish looks delicious!

  4. Suzanne says:

    I haven’t eaten a lot of African food, only Moroccan a few times. Last Christmas, my SIL & BIL invited us over for an all-Moroccan food Christmas dinner. I was totally blown away by all the different flavors. I would love to try this recipe… your soup looks delicious.

    By the way, I’ll try to get Prashant to tell me what he used to make the spinach gravy! He never measures or writes anything down and it drives me crazy!!

  5. Nicole says:

    I have had Ethiopian and Moroccan, as well…but only once, unfortunately! I wish African restaurants were more popular and easy to find! Side note: I would’ve never pegged okra as an African vegetable, I think of it in the south of the states! Learn something new every day : )

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