When it comes to mafe, a traditional stew from Senegal, there are very few absolutes. It’s typically made from lamb, mutton, beef, or chicken and vegetables stewed in peanut sauce, although the combination of veggies is variable–and arguable. Chef Thiam says the butternut squash is mandatory, whereas my cousin feels strongly about the presence of cabbage. What isn’t negotiable is the type of peanut butter, which is of major importance. It must be pure, all-natural peanut butter, the freshly ground kind where the oil separates and there’s no other ingredients besides peanuts, not even salt. The vegetables should be cut rather chunkily, lest they disintegrate completely in the stew. One last thing, something to teach your guests: The habanero peppers are left whole, the idea being that you can dab at them if you want to intensify the heat while you eat. For a more intense, ambient chile pepper presence, pierce the peppers before adding them to the stew.–Sean Timberlake
LC Authentic Experience Note
For a truly authentic mafe experience, ask your guests to take a seat on the floor and serve the stew and rice without plates and utensils, as is tradition.
- Quick Glance
- 1 H, 15 M
- 1 H, 45 M
- Serves 4
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Recipe Testers Reviews
Apparently, I like lamb again! My dad is a hunter, so we ate everything he killed growing up (elk, deer, antelope, quail, and more), and I swore off all-things gamey when I left the house at 18. I thought I’d be nice and make this for my husband, but as it turned out, I beat him to the pot and grabbed most of the lamb chunks for myself. We loved the peanut sauce, the chunky vegetables, and lamb. (I used 1/2 cup of butternut squash and 1/2 cup of potato and parsnip.) The final product was served over brown rice, and was absolutely divine. Mafe is my new best friend.
This recipe kept us warm and cozy during the big blizzard in Chicago. The amount of flavor in each bite is fantastic—especially when you consider the recipe’s simplicity. The thickness of the broth from the peanut butter, along with the textures of the lamb and vegetables, make for a perfect stew! I made two batches at once—one with lamb, and one that was vegetarian. I tried both, and honestly I didn’t feel the lamb added much in terms of flavor. I’ll go with the vegetarian one again next time. In the future, I’ll also add enough peppers so each guest has the option of more spice. This dish will become a standard menu item in our home.