Saturday, January 22, 2011

Recipe: African Groundnut Stew (vegan)

This is my go-to comfort food dish.  It's really very EASY, forgiving, and you can substitute just about anything in this recipe with just about anything else.  Below is a vegan version, but I'll add a few suggestions at the end if you'd like to add meat.

This stew is a great way to test how certain dishes can have ingredients where you taste each distinctive one.  It also doubles really well, which means that you can double every ingredient if you're making more (that's not always possible with every dish).
Pantry goods used - some peanut butter, the last of the brown rice (yayyy).

INGREDIENTS (in order that you need them):
1 TBSP oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped (eliminate if you don't like garlic)
1 cup chopped veggies of any variety (I used frozen veggies that I roasted in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, but you can leave out the roasting part)
1/2 TSP curry powder/garam masala (if you leave this step out, let me know how it turns out!)
1/4-1/2 TSP chili powder/cayenne pepper (to your taste)
1 TSP salt (or as much or as little as you'd like)
2-3 coarsely chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup brown rice (if you're using white rice, your simmering time will be shorter by about 10 minutes)
4 cups water
1/2 cup peanut butter (you can use any kind of nut butter)
2 TBSP sugar (eliminate this if your peanut butter already contains sugar)
1-2 TBSP lemon juice (or about 1 lime/lemon)
green chili's (optional)
crushed nuts (unless you use the 'chunky' peanut butter)

So I'm sure you could just put all that stuff in one pot at one go and it'll taste fine.  But don't.  You want to try to emphasise each ingredient.

1) on MEDIUM heat - add the chopped onions and garlic.  Stir occasionally until you see the onions begin to brown.
2) add curry powder, salt, chili powder and chopped veggies.  Stir occasionally for about 2 minutes.
3) add the tomatoes, rice and 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, cover almost completely, then lower the heat to SIMMER for about 25-35 minutes.  Check the rice at 25 minutes to see when it becomes soft.
4) add the peanut butter and sugar (optional), the final 1 cup of water. Stir well for about 1-2 minutes.
5) add the lemon juice and garnishes (these are vital to the dish).  YOU'RE DONE.

MEAT OPTION - just include the meat after Step 2 above, braise it with the spices (about 5 minutes for white meats) but keep in mind that you'll be simmering it with the rice, etc for about 30 minutes.

NOTE about the veggies - Using firm vegetables like corn, bell peppers, carrots, etc will give you a different texture than more pulpy veggies (eggplant or zucchini), so water your stew accordingly.

Smash kitchen phobia's or feeling intimidated and give this delicious comfort-food a go!

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