The use of nuts in stews, casseroles and curries may seem unusual to some. However in West Africa, curries made using the peanut are common staple food.
I've used the likes of ground almonds in an Indian curry to thicken it but I was a little sceptical about using peanuts. But the result was nothing short of fabulous.
It is so easy to make. Whiz the main ingredients up in a blender to make a paste, fry it is a little oil with a few spices, add tomatoes, water and your choice of meat or vegetable then let it cook out. Thick, sweet, hot and the unmistakable hit of roasted peanut. The use of peanut butter is of course completely unauthentic and optional, but a tablespoon of the stuff seems to make everything more smooth and creamy.
You can serve this with just plain old rice but why not do as the Africans do? Boil your rice then form balls the size of golf balls using spoons or asbestos hands. You can do the same with left over rice too. Make them whilst they are cold then steam for 5 minutes until piping hot right through.
Peanut and Beef Curry
1 onion, peeled
2 piece of thumbsize ginger, peeled
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 red pepper, deseeded
1 red chilli, seeded or deseeded depending on how hot you like it
2 tbsp peanut or sunflower oil
3 large handfuls of peanuts
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 Cinnamon stick
A little nutmeg
750g braising beef, chopped into large chunks
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp peanut butter (optional)
Salt and pepper
1 - Put the onion, ginger, garlic, pepper and chilli into a blender and blitz to a puree. Pre-heat the oven to 160C/GM3.
2 - In a large dry frying pan, add the peanuts, coriander seeds and cloves and put onto the hob. Cook through for 5 minutes until fragrant, watching carefully that they are not burning. Bash to a rough powder in a pestle and mortar or use a plastic bag and rolling pin.
3 - Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the paste and cook for 10 minutes, stirring all of the time until slightly coloured. Stir in the spices including the cinnamon stick and cook for a further 2 minutes.
4 - Add the beef and heat through for 2 minutes until covered in the spice mixture thoroughly.
5 - Add the tomato puree, tomatoes and water. Grate in a little nutmeg. Bring to the boil then transfer to a casserole dish. Place in the oven for 2 hours, checking on the hour that it isn't cooking dry.
6 - Once cooked, remove the cinnamon stick, stir through the optional peanut butter and taste for seasoning. Serve with rice balls and warm flatbreads.