I’m giving English lessons to Teneman, one of my neighbors. He’s from Mali, and we started talking about food (of course – we live in France, food is all important!) and he mentioned his favorite dish – Mafé. I had never tried it, but I’d heard about it. He offered to bring the peanut butter (his mom sends it to him from Mali – it’s pure peanuts – no oils, salt, or sugar added!) and I said I’d get the rest of the ingredients. We had our English lesson while we cooked dinner, and after we had a fabulous meal!
Here is the recipe – it is very easy, and very good! But I think you really have to get pure peanut butter or even make your own by processing peanuts in a food processor until they make a thick paste.
Note: Teneman was disappointed that the oil didn’t separate and float to the top, but I think I had the heat on too high and not enough water. Also, we were hungry and probably didn’t wait the full 40 minutes! The sauce was delicious anyhow, and I had leftovers the next day, and they were even better! Also, Teneman likes lots of pepper sprinkled on, but it’s a matter of taste! He also says sometimes he adds a hot pepper to the sauce.
- Oil — 2 tablespoons
- Stewing beef, or chicken cut into cubes — 2 pounds
- Onion, minced — 1
- Garlic, minced — 3 to 6 cloves
- Ginger (optional), minced — 1 tablespoon (Note, I didn’t have ghe ginger and according to Teneman, he never uses it)
- Tomato paste — 2 tablespoons
- Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped — 2 cups
- Water or stock — 1 to 2 cups
- Natural, unsalted peanut butter — 1 cup
- Salt and pepper — to taste
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the meat and saute until lightly browned on all sides, 5 or 6 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the onion to the oil in the pot and saute until translucent, about 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and saute another 1 or 2 minutes.
- Return the beef to the pot, stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes to reduce the volume of the tomatoes somewhat.
- Add enough water or stock to loosen the dish to a stewlike consistency. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Stir in the peanut butter and salt and pepper to taste. Cover loosely with a lid and simmer for another 40 minutes, or until the beef is tender and oil rises to the surface of the dish. Add water as necessary to keep the dish stewlike.
- Adjust seasoning and serve with rice or couscous.
- Meats: Use goat instead of beef. Or use chicken cut into serving pieces.
- Vegetables: Make mafé a full meal by adding vegetables. When you stir in the water or stock, add vegetables like cabbage, yams, squash, okra, eggplant, potatoes, peppers or carrots. For vegetarian Mafé, eliminate the meat and use only vegetables.
- Some recipes call for cooking the peanut butter with the tomato paste, before adding the chopped tomatoes. This will caramelize the sugars a bit, giving additional depth to the sauces flavor.