This peanut stew: is savory, sweet, spicy, crunchy, and has an aroma that made some of my coworkers very jealous of me when I brought the leftovers for lunch. This post: has been a long time coming!
I lived in Ghana for a little while several years ago. My very favorite food there was the groundnut (peanut) stew. Every region and country in Africa seems to have a different peanut based stew, and while convenient, it’s rather reductive to name a dish ‘African Peanut Stew’. So I am sticking with the specifics. This one is in the Ghanaian style, aside from my seasonal Maryland addition of butternut squash, which can easily be left out or replaced with yams.
A major staple food in the area I was living is fufu. Fufu is essentially a dough made from mashed tubers, pounded with a mortar and pestle until the right consistency is reached. The most common one I tried was from cassava (aka yuca aka tapioca root). But many starchy vegetables are used: potato; plantain; yam; taro root; possibly a starchy sweet potato.
The dough is then shaped into a ball and eaten along with a sauce, soup or stew. I’ve seen it served on a separate dish alongside a bowl of stew. I’ve also seen it placed directly into the soup bowl. But the most important thing about fufu? You eat it with your fingers. Pinch off a piece of dough, dip it in the soup, and then eat it together. It’s got an amazing chew and it’s naturally gluten-free. It’s not typically seasoned, though, so the stew has gotta be flavorful.
The reason I decided to finally share this today? I finally figured out how to make fufu from scratch with the Kitchenaid mixer. Yes, it’s kind of cheating. But it beats the hell out of working a giant mortar and pestle for an hour (exaggeration? maybe a little..). I think it’s also possible to start from potato flour, but I haven’t tried this, and at the rate we’re getting potatoes in the CSA, I won’t be trying it anytime soon.
This peanut stew is faithful to what I’d find in Ghana. However, while the coconut oil, herbs, and spices are authentic, butternut squash is very much a seasonal Maryland addition of mine, though I love the sweetness it imparts. Though pumpkin is something you would find in Ghana, butternut squash is not – agriculturally speaking it was only introduced in the past couple of years. Also, I left out the commonly included chicken (duh). I think between the fufu and the peanut butter you wouldn’t find yourself yearning for extra heft.
So how’d it all turn out? Pretty damn good! It nearly takes me back to that time in my life. I know I’m not among the swaying palm trees, the dusty streets, and most importantly, the wonderful friends that I made, but this is about as close as I’ve gotten to the feeling without dropping at least a grand on a plane ticket (fun fact – Delta Airlines flies direct from JFK to Accra!).
This soup is so deliciously fragrant and it’s decently nutritious too! Recipe updated in 2017 with reduced oil and MORE flavor.
Ghanaian (Groundnut) Peanut Stew with a Maryland Twist
Spicy, peanutty and delicious Ghanaian peanut stew with seasonal Maryland butternut squash (or use sweet potatoes or yams for something more authentic).
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 inch fresh ginger minced
- 2 small chili peppers minced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 14 oz. crushed tomatoes (or use 1 and 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (no sugar or oils added)
- 1 cooked butternut squash cubed, mashed or pureed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig rosemary (or 1/4 tsp dried rosemary)
- 1 large sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- cayenne pepper and ground black pepper (to taste, for serving)
- fresh cilantro (for serving)
- mashed potatoes, fufu, or another starch (for serving)
Warm the oil in a large saucepan. When shimmering, add the onion, garlic, ginger, and chilis, and cook on medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the smoked paprika, coriander and turmeric, and stir. Cook for about 60 seconds until fragrant.
Add the rest of the ingredients from tomatoes through vinegar, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and partially cover. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down.
Remove the bay leaves and fresh herb sprigs. Season with additional cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt to taste (and more of the other spices as well, if desired).