West African Groundnut Stew

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The recipe for this luscious stew came from teacher and former Moosewood server, Ira Rabois, after serving in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, Africa. Then the dish underwent a few changes in the Moosewood kitchen. Groundnuts are a popular ingredient in West Africa (legumes that ripen on the ground). The peanut is a type of groundnut most available in the US. In this recipe, we use  smooth, unsweetened all-natural peanut butter. The stew is rich flavorful, a little sweet, a bit spicy (but you decide how hot to make it).  To be authentic, the dish would use palm oil, tomato paste, and fewer vegetables, but this recipe is healthier.  Since the 1980s, we’ve redesigned this wonderful dish three times, varying it with or without pineapple, eggplant, peppers, okra, cabbage or kale. Here is our old workhorse recipe, published in New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant

Serves 4 to 6

West African Groundnut Stew
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: West African Style
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-9 cups
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
  • 4 cups chopped onions
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cups peeled and cubed eggplant (or substitute 2 cups green cabbage)
  • ¼ to ½ cup Vegetable Stock or water
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini or yellow summer squash
  • 2 green peppers, coarsely chopped (or substitute 1½ - 2 cups chopped fresh okra)
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (optional)
  1. Steam or boil the sweet potato cubes until just tender.
  2. Meanwhile, sauté the garlic, ginger, and spices in oil for one minute.
  3. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften.
  4. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, and a small amount of vegetable stock or water and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the zucchini and peppers and continue to simmer until all of the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
  6. Drain the sweet potatoes and add them to the stew along with the tomato juice and peanut butter. Stir well.
  7. Simmer on very low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  8. Serve on rice, couscous, or millet.
  9. At Moosewood we garnish this stew with hard-boiled egg halves and pineapple and banana slices.

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