For those of you living in areas that have been hit by the arctic cold weather this past week, I think you'll appreciate today's post for a big pot of healthy vegetable stew! I made this on Sunday night and with six servings to enjoy, it's been getting me through the deep freeze this week (although I sadly just ate up my last serving for lunch today).
Ever since my trips to Zambia and Kenya this past year, I've been wanting to try cooking more African-inspired dishes. So I was intrigued when I noticed a recipe for "mafe" in one of my new cookbooks and learned that it is a West African peanut stew traditionally made with meat, but this version was adapted to be vegetarian.
I combined that recipe with a similar one in another cookbook to come up with this variation on mafe. The base of the stew is a flavourful blend of onion, garlic, ginger, and hot peppers. Next, you add a mixture of vegetables - I used sweet potato, green pepper, okra, tomatoes and cabbage, which are cooked in vegetable broth and apple juice. Finally, you stir in some cilantro and a generous amount of peanut butter to thicken the broth a bit.
I was a bit nervous adding the cabbage and okra to this dish because I'm not really used to cooking with them. I also know that okra has kind of a bad reputation for being a slimy vegetable, but I had tried it in Zambia and loved it, so I was willing to give it a chance here!
And I was glad that I did - the okra basically blended in to mix with the other vegetables, adding some mild taste and texture without being too noticeable. Actually, the okra and cabbage ended up being my favourite bits to eat in this stew!
This was definitely the kind of hearty dish that I needed this week - it both warmed me up and filled me up, and had a nice spicy heat to it that wasn't overpowering but still left me with a runny nose! Serve with some rice or couscous to help soak up the broth, and you've got a nice winter meal to enjoy!
West African Vegetable Stew
Adapted from Ripe From Around Here and Vegan Eats World
1.5 tbsp vegetable oil
2 small yellow onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into ½” cubes (about 3 cups)
1 tsp cumin
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 a small head of cabbage, chopped and core removed
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/2 tsp salt
1.5-2 cups chopped fresh okra
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
4-6 tbsp chopped peanuts
Cooked rice or couscous for serving
Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown. Add garlic, jalapenos, ginger, and sweet potato. Stir in the cumin. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the green pepper, cabbage, tomatoes, broth, apple juice, and salt. Simmer on medium heat, covered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the okra and cook for 5 more minutes.
Place the peanut butter in a small bowl. Take about ½ cup of the hot broth and add it to the bowl. Stir until mixture is smooth, then transfer back to the pot and stir to mix it in.
Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Let cool slightly. Serve over rice or couscous. Top each serving with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
Makes 5-6 servings