Pappa was born and raised in the northwest corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His parents were missionaries—both teachers in local Congolese schools. He was a bare-footed, soccer-playing, tree-climbing, joyful little boy. He loved to hunt, had an incredible gift for language-learning, and made friends easily. He’s still all of these things and more (still loves soccer, climbing trees, hunting, he’s still incredibly gifted at language and is one of the happiest people you’ll ever meet—Mamma calls him “Tigger”).
Mamma and Pappa got to come visit for several weeks, now in December. It was wonderful! We spent lots of time talking, having fika (Swedish coffee/tea time), working outside, watching movies, cooking, and just enjoying being together. Pappa has always been really good at cooking African food from our area of Congo, so when he was with us, I asked him if he’d show me how to make a couple of my favorite dishes.
Peanut sauce is a dish that’s made all across Africa, in many, many different countries. There are lots of names for it, like chicken mwamba/muamba or groundnut stew, and lots of different ways of making it. Pappa said that having specific recipes for different foods was uncommon in our part of Congo, so they would often “Africanize” French words to create names for what they were making. So, in Lingala, the closest name that this recipe would have is “supu na soso”, if you’re using chicken as your meat base (soso means chicken in Lingala). Another example is “supu na ngolongolo”, if you’re using bushbuck meat. I made this recipe again this week but used venison from a deer that my Love shot a couple weeks ago. The closest comparison to a US deer would be a bushbuck, thus “supu na ngolongolo”. And so on. You get the picture 😉.
This particular dish is one that Pappa learned from his Congolese friends. The ingredients that make it stand out as “more unique” to Congo are the generous use of red palm oil and the tomatoes. With Congo being such a huge country with so many different ethnic groups, it’s very probable that it’s made differently and called by different names all across the country, but this is how we make it.
Some of the ingredients can be a little hard to find, but I would encourage you to look for your nearest African or West African store. Most larger cities have at least one, and they usually carry a pretty wide variety of items from all over the continent. I’m also attaching links to some places that you can buy them online, which is super convenient, but unfortunately, a bit more expensive. It’s nice to have the option though, especially with COVID.
I hope you’re adventurous and try this delicious dish from our little corner of Congo!
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Congolese Peanut Sauce
**This recipe uses a crock pot and yields 6 cups of sauce.
- 2 14 oz cans petite, diced Tomatoes (or 3 cups freshly chopped)—don’t drain the liquid off!
- 1 6 oz can Tomato Paste
- ½ cup Red Palm Oil (When cold, the oil will get very hard. You’ll need to heat it up to get it out of the container. I actually transferred mine to a glass jar so that it would be safer with multiple heat-ups and cool-downs.)
- 1-2 TBSP Vegetable Oil
- 1 lb Stew Meat, cubed (you can pick your choice of beef, chicken, goat, venison, or whatever suits your fancy)
- 1 tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Black Pepper, ground
- ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper, ground (you can also use Mitmita, Berberi, or Pilipili if you have them)
- 5-6 medium Garlic Cloves, minced (~ 2 TBSP)
- 1 medium Onion, finely diced (~ 1 cup)
- ½ cup Peanut Butter (chunky or smooth)
- ¼ cup Dry Roasted Salted Peanuts
Turn your crock pot on to high heat. Put your tomatoes (with juices), tomato paste, and palm oil into the crock, and stir it until the tomato paste is smooth and no longer lumpy.
Dice your meat, and place it in a medium bowl. Sprinkle it with the salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper (or your choice of hot pepper). Mix it so that the spices coat the meat as evenly as possible. Drizzle 1 TBSP of oil over the meat/spice mixture and stir it well.
Heat a medium frying pan on high heat (I like to use cast iron!). Once the pan has heated up, add the cubed meat and sauté it on high until it’s nicely browned. Place browned meat in the crock pot.
Add the chopped onions and garlic to the frying pan with an additional drizzle of oil as needed and lightly brown (2-3 minutes). Once they’re tender, put them in the crock pot.
Stir it well so that all the ingredients are evenly mixed.
Let the sauce cook on high for 4 hours. About every hour, stir it to keep things well mixed (especially the palm oil—it likes to pool on the surface). Once you get close to 4 hours, check on the doneness of the meat. We want it to be soft and tender, but not completely falling apart.
Add your peanut butter and let the sauce cook for another hour (5 hours of total crock pot time).
While the sauce is cooking, you’ll want to work with the roasted peanuts. On a cutting board (or in a plastic bag), place your roasted peanuts and crush them with a rolling pin so that you have chunks of peanuts that are all different sizes.
At the very end, once the sauce has finished cooking and the meat is perfectly tender, add your crushed peanuts. Stir it well.
Serve this peanut sauce hot with your choice of a carb: Fuku/sadza, rice, couscous, etc. Check out my Fuku/sadza recipe for an authentic pairing to this Peanut Sauce! Happy Eating, my Friends!