Mafe’ – A West African Stew

This version of Mafe is a stew with beef, tomatoes, peppers, and peanut butter. #mafe @mjskitchen |

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I love eating peanut butter straight from the jar.  I’m not a big PB & J eater, but I do love sticking my finger spoon in the PB jar and scooping up a mouth full of peanut butter. So what does peanut butter have to do with Mafe’?  Mafe’ is a west African stew with a peanut butter sauce as the base.

German Mama of Arepas to Zwetschgen, the host of Cook Around the Globe selected West African cuisine for October, another region of the world with a cuisine I am totally unfamiliar with – until now.  While surfing several sites I kept coming across recipes called mafé, groundnut stew, and chickennat.  All of the the dishes were stewlike, one pot meals that used at least 1 cup of peanut butter in the sauce.  Most used a meat such as beef or chicken, and the recipe I selected mentioned a vegetarian version.  Since I’ve never really cooked with peanut butter, I decided to go for it.

Mafé or Groundnut Stew

Mafe - A beef stew version with tomatoes and peanut butter.

An African stew with beef and peppers|
Print or Save Recipe
Mafé or Groundnut Stew Recipe

Adapted from Mafé at whats4eats - I added the peppers and parsley and made a few adjustments on amounts.

Prep and cook times depend on the the cut of meat or whether or not you even use meat. 

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Beef, Main Course
Cuisine: African
Yields: 6 servings
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed into bite-size pieces (I used beef tri tip)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced*
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced*
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 - 28 ounce can diced tomatoes or you could use fresh tomatoes
  • 2 cups water or stock (beef, chicken, duck or vegetable)
  • 8 small sweet peppers, sliced into circles
  • 2 small hot peppers, minced (optional)
  • 1 cup natural, unsalted peanut butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste Don't add salt if you use tomato paste and canned tomatoes)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • Sweet and Spicy Pepitas* (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the beef and sauté until browned on all sides, 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

  2. Add the onion to the pot and sauté 3-4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and sauté another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Return the beef and any liquid to the pot, stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low.

  4. Add enough water or stock to loosen the dish to a stew-like consistency.
  5. Add the sweet and hot peppers. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the peanut butter and simmer for another 40 minutes or longer, until the beef is tender. (I had to cook it 2 hours to tenderize the tri tip.) Add water as necessary to keep the dish stew-like.
  7. Stir in the parsley and adjust seasoning.
  8. Top each serving with some Sweet and Spicy Pepitas.
  9. Serve over rice.
Kitchen Notes

Even though I used fresh ground peanuts with no salt or sugar, this dish was sweeter than I thought it would be. The sweetness probably came from the tomato paste.  Adding the hot peppers helped to offset the sweetness as well as giving the dish a little bite that I think it needed.  Next time I’ll probably make it a little spicier.


Ginger Garlic Paste - Use in place of the ginger and garlic


The meat – You can use beef, lamb, goat, or chicken for the meat.  Next time I’ll use chicken and make chickennat which is a little different.


Vegetables – A variety of vegetables can be added with the water or stock.  You can add cabbage, yams, sweet potatoes, parsnip, squash, okra, eggplant, potatoes, peppers, or carrots.  I think serving it over a baked sweet potato would be quite delicious.


Vegetarian – Omit the meat and just use a variety of vegetables and water or veggie broth.


Suggested Slowcooker adaptation: Perform steps 1-4 as written. Put in crock pot. Do step 5. Cook on high for 1 hour, the do step 6. Simmer on LOW for 4-6 hours (depending on tenderness). Do step 7 at the end! (I don't have a slow cooker so thanks to Ann over at Cooking Healthy for Me for her adaptation!)



This version of mafe, an African stew, has beef, peppers, tomatoes and peanut butter. @mjskitchen |

We really liked this dish!  It was hearty and definitely like a stew.  Next time, I think I’ll add a few more vegetables like carrots and maybe parsnips.  I did add some sweet peppers as well as 2 Big Bomb hot peppers.  The same friend that loaned me these beautiful bowls gave me the Big Bomb peppers (the round ones in the picture) the day before I made this.  They were perfect in this dish.


Last but not least – Would I make this again?  Absolutely!



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40 Responses to “Mafe’ – A West African Stew”

  1. Javelin Warrior March 5, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    What a unique dish, MJ – the peanut butter is really a surprise! I’m intrigued at the idea of making this with lamb and kicking up the spiciness as you said. Very cool and I’m inspired by your choice of staging for the photo… Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Christina Vega November 18, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    There is a really nice West African Restaurant near West Philadelphia called Kilimanjaro. (43rd and Chestnut). Their Mafé is divine….they make it with lamb. They can make it more or less spicy, the staff are very nice, the music and atmosphere will definitely make you feel like your visiting West Africa….you should try it if your looking for a place to eat while visiting the city of brotherly love.

    • mj November 25, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

      Thanks for the recommendation! It I ever get to Philadelphia, I will definitely look it up! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Miz Helen October 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    Hi MJ,
    This looks like a delicious Stew, that we would really enjoy. It is rainy and cold here today, our first real taste of fall and this Stew would be great. Enjoy your weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  4. Debbie @ Easy Natural Food March 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    Great dish, I love it! Apart from peanut dipping sauce, I’ve never used peanut butter in cooking either, but this stew sounds really tasty! Thanks for sharing this with Sunday Night Soup Night, look forward to seeing you again soon!

    • Debbie @ Easy Natural Food March 29, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

      I have chosen this soup as one of my top 3 soups from Sunday Night Soup Night! I have tweeted it, pinned it and shared it on my Facebook page. It will be featured on Sunday Night Soup Night this coming Sunday. Thanks for linking up and I hope to see you again soon!

      • mj March 29, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

        Thanks Debbie! That’s awesome!

  5. April @ The 21st Century Housewife March 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    I have never made a savoury recipe with peanut butter before either – I think you were brave to try this one, and it really does look delicious! The spices sound absolutely lovely. And I only just got a slow cooker this year, so you are not the only one 🙂

  6. Linda February 21, 2012 at 7:31 pm #

    At first I thought, “This recipe is going to be too weird for my family,” but after looking at it I think not. I would have to use a nut butter substitute because my husband can’t have peanuts. And I would probably leave the peppers out, though they sure are pretty. But the other ingredients are all pretty “normal” for my non adventurous husband (and a couple of my kids). Thanks for linking it up at GF Wednesdays!

  7. Lisa February 14, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    This sounds and looks amazing! I’d love for you to share this recipe at Mix it up Monday:

    I hope to see you soon 🙂

  8. German Mama November 8, 2011 at 4:31 am #

    Great choice. I was looking at all those PB recipes and contemplating very hard whether to make one or not. We are no PB fans but I was very curious about these stews. (BTW, the roundup post is finally up, so you can link this recipe.)

  9. Shannon@JustAsDelish October 27, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    This is really interesting, peanut butter in a stew.. Most likely I will lick the whole pot clean 🙂 love to try this out

  10. Bob October 26, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Uh, you do have a slow cooker. It’s big, red, heavy, and French.

    • mj October 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

      Oh Bobby – a slowcooker is what you know as a “crockpot”! 🙂

  11. Darkbyte October 26, 2011 at 1:59 am #

    Oh wow! This sounds lovely. Must try this … assuming I can keep from eating all of my peanut butter. Everything tastes better straight from the jar using our “natural spoons” 😛

  12. Melanie October 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    That a very interesting recipe! I’ve never heard of combining meat and peanut butter in a stew. I’m saving this, I’m going to try it!

  13. Nami | Just One Cookbook October 25, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    First of all, I love your beautiful blue bowls…handmade? I’m not a big peanut butter fan because I didn’t grow up with it and it’s fairly new ingredient to me. But this stew looks SUPER delicious. I defrosted stewed beef for tomorrow and I’m considering to make this – but not quite sure how spicy it will be for my kids and myself. Have to probably remove a lot of pepper, but I’m afraid the taste will not be as great as yours!

    • mj October 25, 2011 at 9:13 am #

      Yes the bowl are handmade. I wish they were mine! 🙂 The original recipe didn’t call for anything spicy, but you know me – I had to add it. So therefore, you could just leave it out OR add some smoked paprika if you have it. I think smoked paprika or a really good quality paprika would be excellent in this stew. Let me know how you like!

  14. wok with ray October 24, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    I am going through your ingredients and oh boy… I am salivating, MJ! Especially when I saw the peanut butter. I would probably have more than a serving of rice with this. It looks delicious! Have a great week, MJ!

    ~ ray ~

  15. Food Jaunts October 24, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

    Oh my gosh you don’t have a slow cooker?! 😛

    Love your idea for the Cook Around the Globe. I’ve been noticing all of the different uses of peanut butter too but I’ve been wracking my brain and haunting the Internet to try to think up something to submit for it.

    Either way, your Mafe looks gorgeous.

  16. mj October 24, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Thanks everyone for your comments! Looks like we have a nutty group here! 🙂 BTW – to make this dish even nuttier – I added sweet and spicy toasted pumpkin seeds as a topping to the leftovers. It made a good thing even better!

  17. Giulietta | Alterkitchen October 24, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    Very interesting, MJ!
    And we do have one thing in common… I like raw PB, too… I eat it with my spoon (or finger), I can’t resist!

  18. joanne October 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Interesting recipe. I’m with you – PB or Almond butter right from the jar? You bet! My german shepard like peanut butter as well but I think I give it to him as an excuse to sneak some myself. 🙂

  19. sally October 23, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    Mmm…a whole cup of peanut butter–sounds like my kind of soup!

  20. lavieenfribourg October 23, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    The colours your pictures show are amazing- so beautiful.

  21. Manu October 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    What a great recipe! I really wanted to make something too for this month’s Cook around the Globe, but did not have enough time… sigh! This dish sounds delicious MJ! I don’t have a slow cooker either by the way… 😉

  22. Charles October 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    Nice – Africa is always a place I want to try more food from. There are a whole treasure-trove of undiscovered cuisines there which I’d just love to try. This looks wonderful – definitely worth a try!

  23. ginny lee October 22, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    oh man this looks good! I also love a Filipino stew with peanut butter called kari-kari. amazing what peanut butter does in a stew right?

  24. Meg October 22, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Hey! 🙂 Loving this recipe! I live alone, so I just want to make a small serving. How many servings is this recipe for? 🙂

    • mj October 22, 2011 at 10:38 am #

      Whoops! I forgot to add the servings and prep/cook time! Thanks for catching that! This dish easily serves 6, so cutting back on the ingredients should be easy. Also, it looks like a dish that would freeze well. If we have any leftovers after the second meal, we’ll freeze them. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know how it turns out!

  25. Joanne October 22, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    HAHA, I totally do that with peanut butter too! Sometimes you just need a spoonful of peanut butter. So comforting, rich, delicious!

  26. Katherine Martinelli October 22, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    I have heard of groundnut stew but have never made it – yours looks absolutely delicious!! I love peanut butter, so I am sure I would love this too. I will have to give it a try!

  27. Juls October 22, 2011 at 1:49 am #

    African cuisine is one of those ones that is totally overlooked and yet full of so much variety and packed with tastes and flavours that are just fantastic! I do so love the stews and meals that use peanut butter, though my partner is allergic to nuts (and this makes me sad/angry!) so, most of the time I have to substitute it for coconut or roasted chickpeas.

    Your stew looks beautiful!

  28. Spoon and Chopsticks October 22, 2011 at 1:26 am #

    Interesting recipe with peanut butter. Love the ingredients you have used. I would love to try this one.

    Spoon and Chopsticks

  29. Reem | Simply Reem October 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    I love peanuts….
    Anything with any form of peanut is heaven, will try this soon…
    Looks lovely……..

  30. dudut @mytwistedrecipe October 21, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    would love to try this sometime…the addition of peanut butter is interesting 🙂 thanks for sharing!

    happy saturday!


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