West African Peanut Stew

A fiery stew, full of exotic flavors.

Vegan. Hands-on time: 10 mins. Total time: 25 mins.

Contributed by Janey Macleod (March 2003).

I've never been to Africa, but I've been fascinated by sub-Sahara cooking ever since I read the chapter on the subject in the excellent Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant. This recipe is my version of the standard West African stew, which in one form or another is eaten all over the region. It's not as difficult to make as you might think, although you might have to search hard for some of the ingredients. But I'm sure you'll find it worth the effort.

Traditionally, West African dishes are real mouth-blisterers. In fact, some of them are so hot that they make spicy Indian food seem bland by comparison. African recipes, like this one, have to be severely toned down for western palettes.

I've used sweet potato here, but you can also use yams, or even eggplant (aubergine). If you don't have any fresh okra, use a 13-oz. (380 g) can instead. As for the other ingredients, vary them to your taste. For greater authenticity, increase the amount of cayenne - if your mouth can stand it.

Served with millet or rice, this makes six generous portions.



Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil until soft. Add the peanuts, sweet potato and cabbage. Cover the pot and stew gently for about five minutes.

Add the cayenne, ginger, cilantro, juices and tomatoes, and simmer until the cabbage is cooked.

Add the okra. Stir in the peanut butter and salt. Cook for a further 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add more juice (or water) if the stew becomes too thick.

Note on quantities and temperatures:
Quantities are given in American (cups), imperial (oz, fl oz) and metric (g, ml) units. Do not mix the units - use one or other system throughout the recipe.
See also How much does a cup weigh?
oz = ounces, fl oz = fluid ounces, g = grams, ml = milliliters, tsp = teaspoons, tbsp = tablespoons.
Oven temperatures are given in degrees F (Fahrenheit) and C (Celsius).
For fan-assisted ovens, reduce the temperature by 20F or 10C.