African Stew


It’s been quiet on the blog lately, which means that it hasn’t been quiet in my real life!  Irving’s travel has slowed down a bit which means more family time!  And David and I have been keeping busy with playdates with friends, gymnastics and swimming classes, story time at the library, and soaking up as much of the sunny fall that we can at our nearby parks.  I can’t believe it hasn’t been steadily raining here yet—although I know it’s coming.  AND….I’ve been working on a few recipes for the Virtual Vegan Potluck, a Christmas Cookie Swap with Keepin’ It Kind, and hopefully, if I get it all together, a recipe sampler ebook that will be done in time for holiday baking.  So forgive my absence from this space—but believe me that I’ve been busy, busy, busy!


Irving and I have a habit of watching foodie shows late at night and then whipping up something as close to whatever they are making with leftovers in our fridge at 11 o’clock at night!  If we can’t come up with something right away, I usually end up thinking about it until I have a chance to get the right ingredients!  Last week was no exception.  We were watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown and they were in South Africa.  They had so many wonderful looking stews and I knew it had to go on my list to make for the week!

This recipe is a huge hodge podge of different ideas and recipes I’ve had, seen, or read about.  In fact, I’ve been to Africa twice, traveling to Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa, so I tried to reach back into the far recesses of my memory.  However, the last time I had the opportunity to visit I was still in the height of my 2-for-1 Froot Loop-Corn Pops dinners—I know, so embarrassing—and the unique flavors were totally lost on me.  I wouldn’t call this recipe authentic per se, as it is a mix of so many different aspects of African cuisine, but I would call it delicious!


I served my stew with polenta.  Polenta is far from authentically African—it’s obviously a more Italian dish.  It’s very traditional to serve a corn meal porridge with nearly every meal in many parts of Africa, but in my grocery store polenta was what was available.  I think this would also pair really well with rice.

Feel free to adjust spices according to your pantry, remembering that the final product may taste different!  Trust your instincts and go with what seems right.


African Stew
3 onions, diced
1 T oil
½ t cumin seed
1 t cumin
½ t coriander
¼ cinnamon
1 T curry powder
½ t paprika
2 t salt
1 inch ginger, grated finely
1 head garlic, minced
2 lbs tomatoes, diced
2 c water
2 c beans (I used navy beans)
½ -1 c green olives, depending on how much you love olives—I LOVE them!
½ – 1 c raisins, depending on how sweet you like things—I used a half cup because Irving doesn’t like sweetness in an entree, but I would have preferred the full cup!
1 head dark leafy greens (I used Collard Greens), chopped to bite size

Heat oil in a large pot.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add onions and sauté until browning.  Add cumin seed and toast for 1 minute.  Add cumin, coriander, cinnamon, curry powder, paprika, and salt and stir well, coating onions.  Add ginger and garlic.  Stir and allow ginger and garlic to cook for a minute or two, until fragrant.

Add tomatoes and stir well, allowing to heat for 1 minute.  Add water (gradually if you need to deglaze your pan), and stir well again.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  While it simmers, break up tomatoes with a wooden spoon to help create a sauce.  Once the stew has thickened up and the tomatoes are broken up add olives, raisins, and beans.  Simmer for 5 minutes to allow the beans to absorb the flavors and adjust for salt.  Add the greens and let them wilt into the stew and simmer a few minutes longer.  Once all greens are incorporated, serve over the starch of your choice.  Enjoy!

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