WEST AFRICAN PEANUT STEW
Cultural competency in the field of Public Health & Dietetics is undervalued and underutilized. In order to treat someone properly for any array of health conditions, understanding someones cultural background is so valuable. How is a Dietitian supposed to suggest foods to someone for them to be "healthier" if they are foods that someone is unfamiliar with or has never prepared before? Asking someone about any cultural practices or beliefs that they have prior to assessing their conditions and treatment can go along way and will minimize disparities of care. There is no way that we can have people of a particular culture only treated by their own culture. So as up and coming public health professionals it is our job to become more culturally competent to improve our quality of care. Now on to the recipe…
I first discovered this recipe in a Food Culture course that I took a few years ago for my degree. I remember thinking it was so strange that there was peanut butter in the this stew... I also remember it being so incredibly delicious! I was in awe of how the flavor of the peanuts and tomatoes worked so well in this sweet and savory combination. Packed with sweet potatoes and chard this stew is nutrient dense and warming to the soul. A fall staple for any plant-based diet.
This stew actually has quite an interesting history as peanuts were not native to Africa and were brought over from South America by Spanish and Portuguese colonists. So it is thought that this stew was created in the early 1560s. The components of the stew depended on the region and what was in season there. The key parts that were always present were the peanuts and the tomatoes. It would commonly include a root vegetable like yams potatoes, or squash, as they were so cheap, a green that was most available, and other add-ins such as beans, corn, and herbs. It is now commonly made with sweet potato and collard greens as the sweetness of the potato cuts the bitterness of the greens. The stew was often served over rice with some fresh parsley as I have done here. While my recipe may not be too close to how this recipe was authentically made, I think that it gives an array of these traditional flavors and the style of how this stew was created.
WEST AFRICAN PEANUT STEW RECIPE
Time: 1 hour
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 can of red kidney beans
1/2 cup peanut butter (salted & oil free is preferred)
1 yellow onion
1 medium sweet potato, cubed (peeled if desired)
1 tbsp ginger, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups of vegetable stock
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 lime's juice
5-8 collard leaves, cut into ribbons
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
1-2 tbsp coconut milk or non-dairy yogurt
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
*Serve over brown rice (or on it's own!)
Start by sautéing the onion in a dutch oven or pot on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes until it becomes slightly translucent, deglazing the pot with water when needed. Then add ginger and garlic cooking for another 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.
Add all of the spices and the cubed sweet potato, stirring till well combined then let cook for 2 minutes.
Add the peanut butter, tomato paste, and vegetable stock, stir till the peanut butter and tomato paste are dissolved in the stock. Add the rinsed and drained kidney beans, bring to a boil, then partially cover and let simmer for 18 minutes. Season to taste here if needed.
Once you can pierce the sweet potato with a fork, add the collard ribbons and cook just till wilted and add the lime juice.
Serve over brown rice and top with fresh parsley, roasted peanuts, lime juice, coconut yogurt/milk, and enjoy!
Experimenting with different cultural foods can open your eyes to new spices, flavor combinations, and ways of cooking that have been enjoyed by many before us. Don't knock peanut butter in soup till you try it! Seriously so delicious and hearty.