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Peanut and Squash Stew – Chad National Dish – Day 65/Dish 34

March 15, 2010

This week we seem to be dissecting the central corridors of Africa.  The last dish was from Botswana in the central southern part of Africa and before that was The Central African Republic located in the true center of the continent.  Today we travel to Chad in the northern center of the Dark Continent.  To get there we travel due north from Botswana till we reach the eastern borderlands of Chad and Sudan.

This country is one of the poorest and most corrupt in the world and is located in the heart of what is currently one of the most terrifying places on the planet.  Sudan has been brought to its knees by the ethnic genocide of its tribal people by the “Janjaweed” militias at the behest and complicit tolerance of the Muslim government.  The refugees have reached into the millions and the death toll is similar.  Chad has received many of these refugees, which places incredible strain on an already poverty ridden nation.  As a result, food shortages and famine have plagued the region and the scars of genocide mark the faces of the victims. This is just one more senseless example of human brutality in the face of ethnic and religious differences.   If you add the  strain of Malaria and AIDS that are rife in Africa, you can only begin to imagine the hell that awaits the Sudanese every morning first thing.

Chad is made up of three distinct geographic zones.  The northern portion of the country is desert, the center is arid and the south is more tropical and lush.  The southern portion has been the sight of historic conflicts and invasions by Africans and Europeans wishing to exploit its resources. 

Chad was first conquered by the French in 1920 and gained independence from colonial suppression in 1960.  Immediately following independence, the nation was divided by a civil war fought between Christians in power and the Muslim populations of the north.  In 1979 the rebels conquered the capital and remain in power despite some examples of infighting.  However, Chad’s constitution allows for freedom of religion and overall the various groups co-exist peacefully.

Chad has been destabilized by the influx of Sudanese refugees.  This is the largest challenge facing the nation today.  Chad has been economically challenged to support its own people without the burden of hundreds of thousands of refugees to feed.  Half of the refugees are children according to Save The Children, one of many NGO aid groups working inside Chad. 

The national dish of Chad is Peanut and Squash Stew.  The use of ground nuts and squash in stews is a recurring theme in the culinary traditions of Chad.  These stews are hearty dishes that provide sustenance for people who traditionally rely on farming and herding to make their living.  I am adding the greens and some additional liquid to this dish as it proved necessary and desirable when cooking.  It is amazing how quickly you can begin to adapt to cooking these dishes with which you have had no previous experience if you have good ingredients, patience and a bit of common sense.

I give this dish a 1 for difficulty.  It is simple and quick.  The flavors are balanced and tasty.  The key to this dish is the seasoning.  Using too little salt is almost as bad as too much.  Season in stages until you “bring it up” to where you want it and allow the stew to rest a few minutes so the flavors have time to incorporate before serving.

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Rating:

Appearance: 3 of 5

Aroma:  3 out of 5

Flavor: 3 out of 5

Total: 9 out of 15 (in the future I will add chicken or pork to this recipe.)

Ingredients:

Peanut Oil  about 2 tbsp

two to three pounds butternut squash (peeled, de-seeded and cut into cubes) or zucchini (sliced)

1 lb Mustard Greens (stems removed and soaked to clean in a large pot or a sanitized sink)

three cups shelled roasted peanuts; crushed or coarsely chopped

salt to taste

one teaspoon brown sugar or white sugar (optional)

3 cloves Garlic

3 cups water

Preparation:

Heat  2 tbsp of oil in a large skillet. Cook squash and Garlic(add about half way through cooking) until it begins to become tender, stirring often; about five to ten minutes. (Or cook squash in one cup of boiling water.)  Squash can be mashed if desired.

Add peanuts, salt, and sugar.  Use the water to create a “broth” or base for the stew.  Do not over or under fill the water.  Add slowly till the desired consistency is reached while stirring.

Turn up the heat to boil. Add the Mustard Greens and pat down into liquid till they wilt and incorporate.  Stir to mix thoroughly.

Reduce heat. Simmer until squash is tender and flavors have mingled, about 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.

 

http://www.congocookbook.com/vegetable_and_side_dish_recipes/squash_with_peanuts.html  Congo Cookbook has become another trusted resource on African Cuisine.  I adapted this recipe to include the mustard greens and a higher liquid level in order to wilt the greens and avoid burning while simmering. 

Sources: http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=75064

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa permalink
    March 16, 2010 7:52 am

    Lovely presentation! Looks like a hearty winter day soup…

  2. Dan Smith permalink
    March 16, 2010 7:58 pm

    That sounds awesome especial if you did add some protein to it, the combo of peanut and squash sounds good since they are so great separately! Ive got to give this one a try

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