Beef and Root Vegetable Stew with Peanut Butter from Senegal


Real Stew

Published by Harvard Common Press

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This dish from the west African nation of Senegal is called maffe. Peanuts are used in much West African cooking because they grow well in that hot climate, and they are rich in oil, 43 to 55 percent, and protein, 25 to 28 percent. The peanut, a New World plant, was brought to Africa from Brazil by Portuguese traders after Columbus’s voyages. This stew is a thick, rib sticking preparation that is both nutritious and filling. The recipe is adapted from a number of different recipes I found on the Internet, but I have a feeling all the various recipes I looked at derive from the one found in Bea Sandler’s The African Cookbook. One traditionally serves this stew over steamed rice.

Makes4 to 6 servings

Cooking Methodsauteeing, stewing



Total Timeunder 4 hours

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, soy free, tree nut free


Taste and Texturemeaty, nutty, savory


  • ¼ cup peanut oil
  • 1 medium size onion, chopped
  • 1 pound boneless stew beef, trimmed of any large pieces of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 ounces tomato paste (half a 6 ounce can)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 small head green cabbage (about 1 pound), damaged outer leaves discarded, cored, and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 large boiling potato, peeled and quartered
  • 3 small turnips, peeled
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and quartered
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter


  1. In a large casserole or Dutch oven, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Cook the onions until translucent, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and, once it turns color, add the tomato paste, water, cayenne, salt and black pepper, and thyme. Reduce the heat to low, covet, and cook for 1 hour.

  2. Add the cabbage, potato, turnips, and sweet potato. Cover and cook until tender, 2 to 2½ hours. Remove about ½ cup of the liquid from the casserole and stir into the peanut butter in a small bowl. Pour this sauce over the meat and cook for 5 minutes. Serve over plain rice.

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