When the African-American festival of Kwanzaa was first envisioned, it coincided with Hannukah, Christmas, and the Winter Solstice, which all honor light coming out of darkness.
This colorful, spicy stew is a sure-fire way to bring a little warmth and light to your family’s table. It includes peanuts, called groundnuts in Africa, as well as winter squash and black-eyed peas, which are often eaten around the New Year for good luck. Served with rice as a natural accompaniment, African Groundnut Stew is a delicious and meaningful way to celebrate the rich heritage of African people.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 or 2 hot or minced chiles, to your taste, seeded and chopped
1 ½ teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
½ tablespoon light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½ pounds winter squash, such as butternut or Buttercup, seeded, peeled, and cut into bite-size cubes (about 3 ½ cups)
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup creamy natural peanut butter
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 ½ cups cooled black-eyed peas or one 15-ounce can (see Note), drained and rinsed
½ cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, chiles, ginger, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add the squash and stir to coat with the spices. Add 1 ¼ cup of the water and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
2. Put the peanut butter in a small bowl and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup water, stirring until smooth.
3 Stir the peanut butter mixture into the stew, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Allow 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the black-eyed peas and peanuts and simmer until heated through. Before serving, taste to adjust the seasonings.