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. Some are thick and served over rice or millet couscous, others thin and soupy, depending on where in Africa you are. The list of ingredients often extends to okra, tomatoes, hot chiles, and other bright foils for the stew's intense richness, but it's the indispensable peanut that gives this dish its essential earthy character. —Jessica B. Harris, author ofHigh on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America(Bloomsbury, 2011)
⅓ cup canola oil 2 lb. bone-in chicken thighs, skinned Kosher salt, to taste ¼ cup finely chopped ginger 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped 4 chile de arbol 1 tsp. ground coriander 1 tsp. turmeric ½ tsp. ground cumin ½ tsp. ground black pepper ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon ⅓ tsp. fenugreek seeds 3 whole cloves 2 tbsp. tomato paste ¾ cup peanut butter 1 cup diced plum tomatoes 1 lb. eggplant, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes 4 oz. okra, cut into 1″-thick pieces 1 fresh red chile, sliced Roasted, chopped peanuts, for garnish Cooked white rice, for serving
1. Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and add to pot; cook, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate, and set aside.
2. Add remaining oil to pot. Add ginger, onion, and chiles de arbol and cook, stirring, until soft, about 8 minutes; add spices, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Stir in peanut butter, and then return chicken to pot along with 6 cups of water and tomatoes, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, until chicken is half-cooked, about 25 minutes. Add eggplant and okra, and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and eggplant and okra are tender, about 30 minutes. Season the stew with salt. Sprinkle with the red chile and peanuts. Serve with rice.