West African peanut chicken stew is a hearty, comforting dinner that’s loaded with flavor, smoky spices, and a touch of spiciness.
This recipe has been on my mind for years now. I’ve been intrigued by the peanut butter and spices, giving depth and richness to the yams and chicken.
It was after a trip to visit my daughter in Bloomington, Indiana, that I knew I had to make it! (Update: July 2017: I recently updated and re-read this recipe, and am pleased to add it to my collection of Whole30, low-carb, Paleo and gluten free recipes).
We went to her favorite soup restaurant a couple of times, and I spent some time perusing their daily menu of a dozen incredible sounding soups. Their West African Peanut Stew received nothing but accolades, so I was convinced to order it. My husband was skeptical, because he loves peanut butter, but wasn’t sure it would translate well into a savory dish. The West African stew recipe isn’t the speediest dish to make, taking about 45 minutes to prep and cook. Thankfully, however, it was worth the effort!
If you’re looking for a strictly vegetarian dish, double the amount of sweet potatoes or yams to replace the chicken. I prefer chicken thighs to breast meat in a stew, as they lend themselves well to longer cooking times. To keep this dish Whole30 compliant, simply substitute the peanut oil for coconut oil and cashew butter for the peanut butter.
The magic of this rich stew is the interesting play of slightly sweet spices against subtle heat from red pepper. We found 1 1/2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes gave it just enough spiciness without masking the rest of the flavors. If you prefer more heat, increase the red pepper, or add a fresh chile.
This is definitely one of those dishes that tastes better the second day, after the flavors have had a chance to meld over night.
I hope you enjoy this West African stew recipe!
- 2 Tablespoons peanut oil (or coconut oil)
- 1 red or yellow onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 4 cups orange fleshed sweet potatoes scrubbed and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 13 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup chunky peanut butter or cashew butter (Cashew butter for Whole 30)
- 1 5 ounces fresh baby spinach kale or greens
In a large pot, heat oil over a medium high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Then add garlic and ginger and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes.
After that, add the chicken and cook, stirring until chicken is browned on all sides. Then add spices, red pepper, salt and black pepper, stirring to coat.
Pour in chicken stock, and yams or sweet potatoes, then bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to simmer and cover, cooking for 15 minutes.
Uncover, stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, and peanut butter, mixing until blended. Continue cooking an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until yams are fork tender and liquid is reduced and thick.
Remove from heat and stir in baby spinach. (If using tougher greens, add 5-10 minutes before done)
Serve with rice, if desired.