Last year we got to take a food tour around Harlem, and as part of that experience we were able to check out a Senegalese restaurant. In the past few decades, communities of people from different regions in Africa have popped up around northern Manhattan, so we were glad we got a chance to try some West African food – including mafe. Mafe is a stew made from groundnuts that originally comes from Mali but has now spread across that entire region of Africa, and while it’s usually made with chicken, beef, or lamb, the restaurant we stopped at was kind enough to make a vegetable version. We liked it so much that we decided to try to make ourselves, and this is the result – without any meat, it’s a totally vegan dish.
To make it, you’ll need:
Start by chopping up your onion and placing it into a Dutch oven, along with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, over medium heat. Cook the onion until it’s softened, and while it’s cooking cut your potatoes into cubes, mince your garlic, and grate a small piece of ginger. Add these vegetables into your pot and cook until the potatoes soften as well, then stir 2 teaspoons of tomato paste into everything.
Saute this mixture for about 3 minutes, and while you’re waiting chop up your tomatoes and then stir those in as well.
Also cut your okra into pieces and add them in, and let all of this cook for another 3 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, dissolve your Massel 7’s cubes into 2 cups of boiling water, then stir in a cup of peanut butter until you have a smooth mixture.
Mix the peanut sauce into the vegetables …
… and add in your sliced jalapeño, then a 1/2 cup of water. Bring all this to a boil and let it simmer for 45 minutes.
Once the mafe is done, it should look like a thick stew:
And you can dish it out and serve!
With potatoes and a peanut sauce, this turns into an incredibly hearty meal that just so happens to be meat- and dairy-free. The other vegetables lend the mafe some nice contrasting flavors, and the jalapeño makes it just a little spicy. Overall, it’s a great, unique type of vegan stew. If you’ve never had West African food before (though you should have already tried our jollof rice) this is a great place to start).