Project Food Blog #2: Mafe (West African Peanut Stew)

I'm so excited to tell you all that I made it to the next round of Project Food Blog! For this round, I had to select a classic dish from another culture---one that I wasn't familiar with. I was so excited to compete in this round because I love cuisines from other cultures.

I had to brainstorm to come up with a type of cuisine I had little experience with. Of course, all European-style cuisines were out of the running. Also, I have a fair share of southeast Asian-inspired dishes on my blog, so I counted those out. That only left  part of Asia, South America, Africa (do I even need to mention Antarctica?). Of that list, African cuisine piqued my interest most. Not only have I had limited exposure to African food, I have plenty or reasons to be inspired to cook this type of cuisine. Namely, one of my best friends was born in Chad, did his master's research in Tanzania, and is now in Equatorial Guinea. I have another best friend who did her research in Tanzania and is now in Namibia. Her husband is from Kenya, too. Even though I have had exposure to persons who have first-hand experiences with African cuisine, I never tasted or learned to make traditional dishes. This seemed like a perfect learning opportunity to me.


After a lot of searching online, I targeted West African food because of the luscious-sounding stews that are perfect as we approach the cooler months of the year. One unique-sounding recipe was for a traditional West African meat stew called Mafe, which has a peanut-based sauce. The idea of using peanut butter in a stew gravy was intriguing. Most Mafe recipes allow a lot of creative liberty in the types of vegetables you can use, and the suggested vegetables are some of my favorites: sweet potatoes and eggplant.



I think another reason why I wanted to try this recipe so much is because it thought it would taste like something I have only tried once in my life back when I was in 3rd grade. I was on a field trip with my dad as a parent leader and we were at a huge festival in Indiana called the Feast of the Hunter's Moon. He bought himself a cup of peanut soup (which was Native American in origin) and let me have a taste...it was so delicious. The flavor was imprinted in my brain and I knew one day I would make something like it. Here is my chance. It would appear all roads lead to Africa for this challenge...


I hope you enjoy this rich, earthy, sweet-and-savory stew as much as I did. This wholesome stew is full of healthy vegetables and lean meat. Though I have never eaten this before, I can't help but feel this is comfort food. No matter what culture inspires a recipe for me, there are just some recipes that have elements so universally comforting, I can't help but imagine grandmothers and mothers all over the world cooking something like this.

Mmmm...look at that bite.

To check out my Project Food Blog profile and vote for me to advance to the next round, please go here. Thank you for your support!


Mafe (West African Peanut Stew)
Printable Recipe


1 tsp canola or vegetable oil
1.5 lbs lean beef stew meat
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
2 small or 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into large dice
1 1-lb eggplant, cut into large dice
1 13.5-oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 cups low-sodium beef broth

2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup smooth natural peanut butter
pinch sugar, if the tomatoes are tart
salt and pepper, to taste

cooked couscous or rice, for serving

Stove top directions:

1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper and add to the hot oil. Brown the meat lightly, then add the ginger, garlic, and onion. Saute the meat and vegetables until the onion is translucent.
2. Season the cooked meat and vegetables with cumin, cinnamon, and coriander; cook about 30 seconds, or until fragrant, then add the potatoes, eggplant, and diced tomatoes.
3. Blend the broth with the tomato paste and peanut butter until the tomato paste and peanut butter loosen slightly, then add to the meat and vegetable mixture and stir thoroughly.
4. Cover the pot with a lid and cook over low heat at least 1 hour or longer, until the meat and potatoes are very tender.

Crockpot (slow cooker) directions:

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper and add to the hot oil. Brown the meat lightly, then add the ginger, garlic, and onion. Saute the meat and vegetables until the onion is translucent. Deglaze the pan with a little water, if necessary, to scrape up the delicious browned bits.
2. Add the cumin, cinnamon, coriander, potatoes, eggplant, and diced tomatoes to the crock pot.
3. Blend the broth with the tomato paste and peanut butter until the tomato paste and peanut butter loosen slightly, then add to the meat and vegetable mixture and stir thoroughly.
4. Cover the pot with a lid and cook over low heat at least 6 hours or high heat 4 hours, or until the meat and potatoes are tender.

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