Maafe or West African Peanut Soup

We found this Senegalese restaurant not too far from us.  The service is invariably slow, but it is worth it for the Maafe.  This is a dish of lamb stewed in peanuts popular all over West Africa and while heavy it is amazing.  Also the restaurant gets very good, fatty lamb.  Not the lean flavorless stuff that always underwhelms me at Costco (the only reasonable purveyor of stewing lamb cuts).

This dish apparently came over to the South as West African Peanut Soup.  Very similar, maybe a bit thinner.  Also it usually uses chicken.  I am going to deploy a chicken version here, but beef or lamb would work as well.

2-3 lbs of chicken thighs or drumsticks, skinless if desired
1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
1 cup of peanut butter
2 onions
1 to 2 inches of fresh ginger
12 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp of tomato paste
1-2 tbsp of shrimp paste
2 spicy chiles (habaneros or thai bird would work)
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground white pepper
12 tsp. ground cumin
12 tsp. ground black pepper
14 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. fenugreek seeds
3 whole cloves, ground
2 bay leaves
1 large sweet potato, small cubes for stewing
1/2 lb of Yukon Gold potatoes. small cubes for stewing
1/2 lb of carrots, small cubes for stewing

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Puree the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato and shrimp paste, spices and chiles.  Saute this paste in a dutch oven on medium heat until it starts to stick a bit.  Meanwhile, puree can of tomatoes and peanut butter.  Once paste is nicely aromatic, add tomato/peanut puree and bring to a simmer before adding sweet potatoes and carrots and bay leaves.  Bring to a simmer again and then partially cover dutch oven before placing in oven.

Braise for 15 minutes, add potatoes.  Braise for 15 more minutes.  Add chicken thighs.  Braise for another hour.  Adjust seasoning with salt or sugar (depending on sweetness of peanut butter and personal taste).

Serve with white rice and copious amount of pepper.




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