Maafe

Among the vibrant and rich culinary traditions of West Africa, maafe (also spelled mafe or maafé) stands out as a beloved and iconic comfort food.
This fragrant peanut stew originates from Senegal and neighboring countries like Mali, Gambia, and Guinea. It reflects the heart and soul of Senegalese cuisine and culture.
Maafe
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What Is Maafe?

The name maafe comes from the Mandinka word “mafé” which means sauce. As its name suggests, maafe consists of a smooth and creamy peanut sauce studded with meat or vegetables. This stew has a complex medley of savory, sweet, spicy, and nutty flavors that mingle together in perfect harmony.

The sauce clings lusciously to bites of tender beef or chicken, potatoes, carrots, cabbage or spinach. A big spoonful with a side of rice is the quintessential Senegalese comfort food experience.

While maafe recipes vary between regions and cooks, the fundamentals remain peanut butter, tomato paste, onions, garlic, spices, and a choice of meat or vegetables. Let’s explore the components that give this iconic stew its signature taste and texture.

 It is known by different names in different African countries like… Mafé or Maafe (Senegal), Sauce d’Arachide (Ivory coast ) Tigadèguèna or Tigadegena (Mali) , Domoda (Gambia), African Peanut Stew, Groundnut Stew and many. This dish is usually eaten with fufu or rice.

peanut soup
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Brief History of West African Peanut Stew (Maafe)

Firstly, there are several names for the traditional, iconic groundnut stews you’ll find all over Western Africa:  (Mafé, Mahfe, Maffé, Maffe, Sauce d’Arachide, Tigadèguèna, Tigadegena, Sauce Z’ara, African Peanut Stew, Groundnut Stew).

Peanut stews are found across West Africa, with ancient roots in dishes made with native groundnuts before the peanut arrived from the New World in the 16th century. Maafe can trace its origins to the Mandinka and Bambara people of Mali. The proper name for it in the Mandinka language is “domodah” or “tigadegena” in Bamanankan.

From Mali it spread to neighboring Senegal and the rest of Western Africa. It even found its way across the Atlantic to the American South, where you see remnants of peanut stew or peanut soup in some regions.

It’s believed that peanut stew became popular in Western Africa during the Colonial era, when more efforts were channeled into groundnut farming. Plenty of nuts, what to do? Incorporate them into everyday food like stews and soups.

Maafe, as mentioned above, is the Senegalese version of peanut stew.

What You Need To Make Some Great Maafe

  • Meat – I am making two batches here, one with boneless skinless chicken thighs and one with beef chuck.
  • Peanut butter – The STAR.
  • Onion – Chopped.
  • Tomato – Sauce and paste that gives beautiful vibrant color and flavor.
  • Aromatics – Garlic, ginger, cilantro (for garnishing).
  • Hot pepper – Some like it hot so they use habanero. Some don’t, so they can handle a little jalapeño.
  • Veggies
  • Chicken broth
  • Spices – Paprika, red chili flakes, freshly ground black pepper.

What Kind Of Meat To Use For Maafe

While the peanut-tomato sauce supplies the stew’s signature flavor, the protein and vegetables round it out into a complete meal.

For protein, beef and chicken thighs are classic options that pair wonderfully with the sauce. Slow simmering makes the meat incredibly moist, tender and infused with flavor. Hearty stews cuts like chuck roast, oxtail or lamb shank shine in this stew.

What Kind Of Veggies To Use For Maafe

Vegetarians can enjoy maafe too by substituting ingredients like sweet potatoes, eggplant, okra, squash, greens, or chickpeas for the meat.

In addition to the main protein, maafe typically contains vegetables like potatoes, yams, carrots, cabbage, spinach, okra or bell peppers. They contribute pleasant textures ranging from creamy to toothsome. Their savory flavors soak up the rich peanut sauce.

How To Make Maafe

It is super easy to make when you use Peanut butter paste. You can use any variety depending on what you have on hand. I usually go for 100% Peanut butter for an intensified peanut flavor without the added sugar. However, I must admit that I sometimes use whatever brand I have on hand.

You can easily make your own peanut butter and avoid all the commercial brand which contains sugar, salt, oils, and often preservatives. This can be achieved by blending roasted peanuts in a food processor. Not only is it healthier, but it also tastes much better!

How To Make Maafe In a Slow Cooker

Season and marinate the meat with salt, pepper, paprika, chopped ginger and garlic.

You can directly put the meat in the crock pot, or take the extra step to brown it first in an oiled pan searing 4-5 minutes per side. After browning, place it in the crock pot.

Saute onions till golden brown along with ginger, garlic and jalapeno. Add this mixture over the meat. In a bowl, stir together tomato paste, tomato sauce, paprika, red chili flakes, chicken broth, peanut butter and salt. Pour this mixture over the meat and mix everything well.

Add in carrots or any other root vegetables you want. Cover and cook 4 hours on high or 7-8 on low for chicken. If using beef, cook 5-6 hours on high or 8-9 hours on low.

Towards the last one and half hour you can add in bell peppers. Taste for seasoning and garnish with cilantro.

Maafe
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What To Serve With West African Peanut Stew

Some are made very thick and served over rice, fufu, or millet couscous, other versions can be more thin, almost soup-like, the consistency depending largely on where in Western Africa you happen to be.

How Is West African Peanut Stew Typically Served?

In Senegal, this dish – like so many others – is served family style. Senegalese eat communally, using the right hand. If you wish to enjoy the meal in this fashion, give each diner a spoon.

If you really wish to eat traditionally, use your hand. Pinch the food, shape it into a ball and place it into your mouth.

Tips When Making Maafe

  • If you use beef for your peanut stew, cut it into smaller pieces before sautéing, to cut down on your cooking time.
  • You can adjust the cayenne pepper to your desired preference. To increase the heat, add a whole habanero pepper after adding the stock.
  • After adding the peanut butter, you can add a little water if the stew is too thick.
  • If you prefer chicken, try this African chicken peanut stew. So delicious!

Storage

Mafe is great when sitting in your refrigerator for a night or so when all the flavors mingle together. You can store it for 3-4 days in your refrigerator or freeze it in an airtight container for up to a couple of months for future meals.

Check out the step-by-step printable recipe below. Enjoy!

Some suggestions for Amazon links to “Peanut Butter”.

Whole Foods Market Organic Creamy Peanut Butter No Salt Addedn

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MAFE (MAAFE) - SENEGALESE PEANUT STEW

Mafe (or Maafe) is a popular African peanut stew made in a spicy, creamy peanut and tomato sauce. This is one mouthwatering and appetizing dish you would not be able to get enough of!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

Ingredients

  • One pound of beef (500gr)
  • White rice
  • Peanut butter
  • Tomato concentrate
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 normal potatoes
  • 1 eggplant
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 chili pepper
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • cooking oil (15 ml)
  • 1 laurel leaf
  • 2 stock cubes
  • 1.5 liter of water
  • Salt
  • pepper

Instructions
 

Directions

  • Cut the beef into smaller pieces and heat up the oil in a big deep pan.
  • Now fry the meat until it takes a slight brown color.
  • Chop the onions and tomatoes. Now add the onions first and fry them slightly before adding the chopped tomatoes.
  • Now add 2 tablespoons of tomato concentrate and cook for 2-3 minutes .Add around 1,5 liter of water so that the meat is completely covered.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of peanut butter to the water and stir slowly until there are no lumps left.
  • Now chop all the vegetables left (1 sweet potato, 2 normal potatoes, 1 eggplant, 3 carrots, 1 chili pepper) in rather big pieces and add them together with the laurel leaf and the magi cubes to the pan. Let it simmer on low fire for about 50 minutes.
  • Cook the white rice and serve it together on one big plate with the thickened maafe sauce.
  • Now enjoy your Senegalese Maafe together with your friends or family. add a bit of salt and pepper if necessary.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

 

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