Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mafe (West African meat in peanut sauce)

Mafé is a famous and popular West African dish, particularly in Senegal, Gambia, Mali and the Ivory Coast. It is a stew with meat simmered in a sauce thickened with ground peanuts and has a wonderful sweet-salty flavor. Mafé is known by many names, including groundnut stew, mafe, maffé, maffe, sauce d'arachide, sauce z'ara, tigadèguèna and tigadene.

Rich has discovered this tasty specialty, as well as my friend Annette, who can't seem to get enough with it. It can be made with chicken, beef, or lamb. Variations are also listed below.

Mafe (6 to 8 servings)

Oil -- 2 tablespoons
Stewing beef, cut into cubes -- 2 pounds (or chicken or lamb)
Onion, minced -- 1
Garlic, minced -- 3-6 cloves
Ginger (optional), minced -- 1 tablespoon
Tomato paste -- 2 tablespoons
Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped -- 2 cups
Water or stock -- 1-2 cups
Natural, unsalted peanut butter -- 1 cup
Salt and pepper -- to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the meat and sauté until lightly browned on all sides, 5-6 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Add the onion to the oil in the pot and sauté until translucent, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and sauté another 1-2 minutes.

Return the meat to the pot, stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 8-10 minutes to reduce the volume of the tomatoes.

Add enough water or stock to loosen the dish to a stewlike consistency. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Stir in the peanut butter, salt and pepper and simmer for another 40 minutes, or until the meat is tender and oil rises to the surface of the dish. Add water as necessary to keep the dish stewlike.

Adjust seasoning and serve over rice or couscous.

Use chicken, lamb, or beef.
**When you add the water or stock, stir in some vegetables such as cabbage, yams, squash, okra, eggplant, potatoes, peppers or carrots if you like. Vegetarian versions are made with only vegetables.
Some recipes call for cooking the peanut butter with the tomato paste, before adding the chopped tomatoes.

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