Africa's Morning Glory
Updated: Mar 29
I think the nicest thing to come out of the morning glory family is the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas).
Called Batata in Spain and Patata dolce in Italy, this tuber has made its way around the world from South America following sea and land trade routes at least as early as the 1500s. Widely cultivated in Africa with the native yam and manioc, it contributes to uniquely African cuisine combined with other imports from South America including peanuts and tomatoes and spices from Asia.
Sweet potatoes bring beta-carotene (Vitamin A) to the table for eye health. Also B6, Magnesium, and Fiber. Because of the high fiber content, this has a lower glycemic index than white rice or potatoes especially if you eat the skin.
Choose a sweet potato which is firm and has no sign or smell of mold. Scrub just before cooking and enjoy those skins. Sometimes sweet potatoes are erroneously called yams. A yam (Dioscorea ) is much larger, starchier, less sweet, and usually has white flesh
Keep it out of the refrigerator and use within a week, maybe two. These do not keep well.
The neatly organized Oldways website is my go-to for inspiration, healthy delicious recipes, and nutritional information to my table. The goal of this nonprofit is to inspire individuals and whole organizations to bring health, sustainability, and joy of eating based on heritage. Meals from Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean, and Latin cultures become easily accessible.
This recipe for Oldways Sweet Potato Peanut Stew- called Mafe in West Africa, is from their African Heritage section. Specific recipes vary and are based on a savory tomato and peanut sauce. Styles include meat, seafood, and vegetarian.
Many thanks to Oldways for their permission to reprint their recipe here. I think you’ll enjoy it many times over.
OLDWAYS SWEET POTATO PEANUT STEW - MAFE
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive Oil
1 medium-size yellow Onion, diced
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 large Sweet Potato, chopped into medium-size cubes
2 large Carrots, cut into thin rounds
2 green Zucchini, cut into thin half-rounds
1 small can (15 oz.) of diced Tomatoes, no salt added
2 cups low sodium vegetable Broth
1 tablespoon Curry powder
¼ cup natural Peanut Butter
3 sprigs of fresh Thyme, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Sea Salt to taste
1. Heat the oil in one of the soup pots on medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent (3-4 minutes).
2. While the onions and garlic cook, chop up the sweet potato, carrots, and zucchini.
3. Add sweet potato and vegetables to the pot; sauté for 3-4 minutes.
4. Add the diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, and curry powder, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. After 10 minutes, add the peanut butter and the thyme to the stew. Let it cook, covered, for another 3-5 minutes.
6. Salt to taste, Serve and Enjoy!
Calories: 240 Fat: 11 g Saturated Fat: 1.5 g Sodium: 280 mg Carbohydrate: 27 g Fiber: 7 g Protein: 7 g Yield: 4 servings
Reprinted by Courtesy of Oldways, www.oldwayspt.org
Hints and possible substitutions:
Curry options: I use Ethiopian Berbere, a warming sweet mix of flavors, made of chile, sweet cinnamon, fenugreek, and savory cumin and coriander. You could try Tandoori Masala, Ras El Hanot, or even Chinese Five spice and chile.
Alternatives to sweet potatoes are butternut squash, roasted and mashed or canned pumpkin.
Substitute Peanut butter for Almond, Hazelnut, or Sunflower butter.
I usually opt to water sauté instead of sautéing with oil by adding 2 Tablespoons of water to the hot pan, add the onions and garlic. Stir 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent without burning the garlic.
Tags: Recipe, African, African Stew, Vegetarian, Vegan, main dish, dinner, gluten-free, dairy-free, Sweet potato, healthy