April 1, 2009

Spicy Peanut Stew: An Illustrated Recipe*

Cube one medium sized eggplant into 1/4 inch pieces. In a colander, toss with 1 teaspoon of salt. After 30 minutes, rinse the cubed eggplant well, drain, and set aside.


In a good-sized pot, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add two thinly sliced shallots** and cook until they are soft and well caramelized, about 10 minutes. Stir often during this time.

onions, caramelizing

When they are done, transfer shallots to a medium sized bowl. Add a bit more oil and the eggplant. Cook eggplant until tender and lightly browned. Remove the eggplant to the bowl with the shallots.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop two inches of fresh ginger. Seed and mince two jalapenos. Measure out 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon tumeric, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne.

spices and cilantro

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pot, and heat over medium-high. Add the ginger and jalapenos and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the spices and, continuing to stir cook for another 30 seconds. Add 1 chopped onion and cook, scraping browned bits of spices off the bottom of the pan, for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.

onions cooking with spices

Next, add 1/3 of a cup of tomato paste and cook for a minute, stirring often. Then add 1 small can of diced tomatoes, 4 cups of vegetable stock (or water), and the eggplant and shallots. Sprinkle in some salt and bring to a boil, cooking for 5 minutes.

stewing a bit

Put 1/2 cup peanut butter*** in a medium bowl and a cup or two of the broth. Stir until completely combined, then pour into the the rest of the stew. Reduce heat to a simmer and add one medium sized zucchini, cut into quarters lengthwise then sliced across into small wedges. Cover the pot and continue to simmer until all the vegetables are tender.

Spicy peanut stew

Turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1/3 of a cup of chopped cilantro. Let cool slightly and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro and chopped peanuts.

Spicy peanut stew

*This recipe comes from The New York Times, via my friend Heidi.

**I used a medium-large onion instead, because I could not find shallots when I was grocery shopping.

***I think the stew could use more peanut butter, the flavor wasn't very strong. If you just want a hint of peanut butter, 1/2 cup is enough but next time I will increase it because I want the flavor to come through more.

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