It’s the start of the week, and you know you’ve got a long one ahead. So, when your day ends and its dinner time, cozying up with this hearty bowl of West African Peanut Lentil Stew is always a good idea!
Remember when I talked about how nice the weather had been in my last post? Well, turns out I spoke too soon because it’s currently -10 degrees and snowing. Ha! Luckily this west African peanut lentil stew warmed me up and made me all nice and cozy. Oh, and I also had like two servings because it was literally the most delicious stew I have ever made. Sorry to toot my own horn guys, but dang!
The origins of this dish come from Ghana, and being west African myself, I felt I had to pay homage to this deliciously healthy dish, while adding in my own personal spin. The main ingredient is the use of natural peanut butter, although traditionally, this dish is made with stone ground peanuts. But since ground peanuts are hard to find and grinding them yourself can be a convoluted process, you can use natural peanut butter as a perfect replacement.
I believe the unique component that made this dish successful was the use of cumin and cardamom. Yes…I said cardamom, and I bet you’re probably wondering two things; 1) who adds middle eastern seasoning to an African inspired dish? And, 2) Cardamom is used in dessert recipes, so why would you add cardamom to a savory dish? Answers; 1) I do, and ,2) because It works! Trust me on this. It’s like a marriage of two cultures. You don’t have to add cumin or cardamom if you don’t want to, but I find that it blends well with the lentils in the stew. Maybe I should have called it “West African Peanut & Middle Eastern Lentil Stew.” Hmmm, (produces thought bubble).
Although a traditional African peanut stew doesn’t contain lentils, I added it in to give it a boost of extra protein. You can also add chicken, beef, or any protein of your choosing and also pair it with rice or eat it by itself, since the dish already contains sweet potatoes. Either way, your tummy will thank you when you eat this!
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1.5 tablespoons cumin (optional)
- ½ teaspoon cardamom (optional)
- 5 cups low sodium vegetarian broth (or chicken broth)
- 1½ cups red lentils
- 3 small sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
- 1 (16 ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
- 1 cup natural raw peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
- 1 cup frozen peas (optional)
- Fresh chopped parsley for topping (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger in the hot oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with the crushed red pepper, salt, black pepper, cumin (if using) and cardamom (if using).
- Pour the broth over the mixture. Stir the lentils and sweet potatoes into the liquid and bring the mixture to a boil; reduce heat to low and cover the pot partially with a lid. Cook at a simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and peanut butter. Cover the pot and continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Around 5 minutes towards the end of the cooking time, stir in frozen peas. Serve with chopped parsley.