A Favorite Recipe: Mafe, West African Peanut Stew With Beef

Every time we move, I lose my recipe binder and rejoice upon finding it again.

The binder’s not fancy. It’s a tattered, spiral-ring binder overflowing with recipes I’ve collected since college. Some of the recipes are photocopies of my mom’s cookbooks or library books. Others are packets I’ve collected from cooking classes. A few recipes are from friends who actually hand wrote them on recipe cards, while others are clippings from old Star Tribune Taste sections.

According to the time stamp on my recipe, I printed it February of 2007. At this time, I was finishing my senior year of college where I lived in a house with a group of friends. We were in the midst of planning a party to welcome our housemate back from Mali. Looking back, I must have searched online for West African recipes and chosen this stew.

Looking at the website with fresh eyes, I have no idea why all of the recipes’ photos are from Wikipedia and Flickr, but the recipe’s really good. The peanut butter and tomatoes create a rich sauce with sweet and savory notes. I’m sure you could adapt this recipe for the slow cooker or Instapot. I cut the beef into smaller pieces and simmered it on the stove top on a Sunday afternoon.

*This is one of the meals we loved so much we bickered over the leftovers. 

Spicy Peanut Stew With Beef
Adapted from the recipe for Mafe on whats4eats

1 small onion, finely diced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons ginger, grated or finely minced
1 lb + stew beef
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce (or diced tomatoes)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1-2 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces (or a couple handfuls of mini bell peppers, roughly chopped)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup unsweetened natural peanut butter
Sugar, to taste
Hungarian-style, half-sharp paprika, to taste (I get mine at Penzey’s and start with at least 1 tablespoon, adding more, but I like heat).
Cilantro or fresh parsley


  1. Brown beef in oil and set aside. Don’t overcrowd the pan, so brown in two batches if necessary. If you add too much meat to the pan, the beef will steam instead of brown.
  2. Sauté onions with a pinch of salt until translucent. If the edges begin to brown, that’s ok, too.
  3. Stir in the paprika and cook briefly. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a minute or so. Garlic burns quickly.
  4. Add the tomato paste and stir for a few minutes.  The paste will turn browner, meld with the garlic, onion, ginger, and paprika and lose the canned taste.
  5. Add the beef back into the pot and stir in the tomatoes and stock.
  6. Toss in the sweet potato, carrots, and bell pepper.
  7. Bring to a simmer. Stir in 1 cup of peanut butter.
  8. Add a pinch of sugar. Taste and adjust sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, and stock as needed.
  9. Simmer until the beef is tender.
  10. Garnish with fresh herbs.
  11. Serve over steamed rice.

1 Comment

  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    This looks and sounds so good and easy! I love it. I am always looking for new recipes and this one is getting printed off for later. Love peanut butter and I bet that is what makes this dish perfect. I may have to leave the carrots out, though. 🙂

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