Groundnuts, Peanuts: an ingredient common to many cuisines, South of the Sahara. Boiled. Baked in clean white beach sand known in many parts of Nigeria as ‘sharp sand’. Ground into snack and cakes, from kulikuli to dankwa. And cooked in a soup or sauce.
My first memories of Groundnut stew are accompanied by cold weather and the kindness of a friend, ‘Layide. We’re living in Holland, The Netherlands – friends, neighbours and sharers of pot contents. She’s the friend who lives round the corner, the Nigerian friend from whom I can borrow a half pack of sugar, half a dozen eggs, salt, even stew…should the need arise. She’s the maker of an amazing rice dish which we call ‘Sweet Pepper Rice’ and we’ve long established that if anything will cause a rift between us, it is likely to be food.
‘Layide had ordered a batch of creamy, darker-than-beige-but-not-quite-brown groundnut soup from Bose, our resident Nigerian caterer. This time, it wasn’t Egusi or Okro or stew, it was Groundnut soup. Oh Lord, I cannot tell you how we ate this soup. How we savoured the creaminess, the nuttiness, the spice. How we ladled spoonfuls over freshly boiled rice, and licked the pot and spoons and gnawed on the chicken bones. We didn’t rest – I didn’t rest till the pot was clean. And it was all gone. I didn’t.
Fast forward to 2013, and I tried to recreate the same soup/ stew – forget the memories. Actually, don’t. They are the reason why I’m here…so don’t. Enter Elizabeth Jackson, one of my heroines on West African cuisine and her delightful introduction to Groundnut stew which while different from Bose’s in the colour – probably due to the addition of tomato puree, hit the same flavour and deliciousness notes. You sear/brown chicken after coating in a spicy paste.
Then you basically whip up a stew. I used homemade peanut butter, just because.
And then whipped up the base of the stew – blended tomato mixture, with tomato puree for oomph.
Some peanut butter in…
…and boiled eggs and the stew was ready.
I served it at an amazing lunch – more on that in my next post. I served it like this – full of colour, flavour and texture and everyone loved it. I mean everyone.
(PS, don’t mind my grey-ring, overcooked eggs) – they were delish still.
[yumprint-recipe id=’53’]I need to make this again and have ‘Layide round, ask her to rustle up some sweet, spicy, fragrant rice cooked in a thyme stock with the finest basmati rice.
And we can relive old times and talk about which foods might cause us to part ways.