Creamy, spicy, savory, with a touch of sweetness, Low Carb Groundnut Stew with Chicken and Spiralized Sweet Potatoes hits the flavor notes of a traditional West African groundnut stew in a less traditional fashion. Spiralized sweet potatoes make a perfect base for this healthy, flavorful stew, and it can be on your table in less than 45 minutes!
“Talk, talk, talk!” said the chief. “Too much talk. Yams don’t talk! Fish don’t talk! Cloth doesn’t talk! And water doesn’t talk! All this foolish talk will disturb the village! Go away, before I throw you in jail.”
~~ Too Much Talk: A West African Folktale, Angela Shelf Medearis
I often recall this favorite story we read to our boys when they were little, and as I worked on this recipe I remembered it with fondness once again. People use yams and interchangeably, but they are two different vegetables!
Focus Ingredient: Sweet Potatoes
What is the difference between yams and sweet potatoes, and why does it matter? Most grocery stores in the U.S. offer two similar-looking varieties of tubers, and they’re frequently labeled “sweet potatoes” and “yams.” You might be surprised to find out they’re in all likelihood both sweet potatoes. Yams are native to Africa and Asia, with the majority coming from Africa. They’re not widely available in this country. You may find them in specialty international markets in large metropolitan areas. Yams and sweet potatoes are both tuberous root vegetables, but they are not related, and are really not all that similar. In the typical U.S. market, you will find different varieties of sweet potatoes, and probably no yams. 🙁 See more on sweet potatoes.
So, let’s get back to my Low Carb Groundnut Stew with Chicken and Spiralized Sweet Potatoes… This dish evolved over 25 years, and its earliest form originated on the pages of Sundays at the Moosewood – a favorite mainly vegetarian cookbook published by the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York.
Our 4 young boys were frequently heard saying “not another Moosewood meal!” As a young mom, I was drawn like a magnet to the healthy, ethnically-inspired recipes. The “boys” – now in their twenties and thirties – still don’t care for groundnut stew, but my husband Mark and I are big fans! Right, hon? 😀
Africans refer to this dish as a groundnut stew, and like many other dishes that exemplify a cuisine, it exists in as many forms as there are cooks preparing it. The key ingredient is ground nuts – ie. peanut butter. We prefer it very thick, but many cooks prefer it more like a soup. It is really a matter of personal preference. I have chosen to use boneless, skinless chicken in this recipe, but it is a fabulous, nutritious vegetarian dish without the addition of meat or poultry. The recipe is easily adaptable to whatever vegetables are seasonal, fresh, and (hopefully) local. Lastly, you can use sweet potatoes or yams, or neither if you choose…
I chose to serve the groundnut stew with spiralized sweet potatoes as we’re cutting down on carbs are holiday excesses. We most often serve it over rice. Africans may serve it over rice or another starch such as mashed sweet potatoes or fufu (a starch made with a combination of plantains and cassava). I tried a sauté on the sweet potatoes first, but we love the crispy edges that resulted in roasting them. The choice is yours!
I’m curious… Would you consider trying this dish, or is the lack of familiarity (or the peanut butter) giving you pause? I’d love to hear from you!
Low Carb Groundnut Stew with Chicken and Spiralized Sweet Potatoes
West African flavors come together in this simple and healthy groundnut stew - chicken, yuca, and fresh okra in a savory sauce flavored with peanut butter, atop spiralized and roasted sweet potatoes...
Spiralized Sweet Potatoes
- 2 large sweet potatoes peeled and spiralized
- olive oil to drizzle
- sea salt/fresh ground pepper
- 2 tablespoon refined coconut or olive oil divided
- 3 cups okra cut in 1" pieces
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken cubed
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 tbsp. ginger minced or grated
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon cayenne to taste
- 26 ounce can of petite diced or crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup mango, apricot, or peach juice
- 1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt and a few grinds pepper
- cilantro, parsley, or scallions (chopped) for garnish
Spiralized Sweet Potatoes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (375 convection). Toss the spiralized sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook until some of the edges are browned, and sweet potatoes are tender but not soft. (15-20 minutes).
Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a heavy pot or dutch oven. Bring to high heat. Add okra. Cook and stir over very high heat until some of the edges are blackened, and gooey substance is less present. Place in a prep bowl until needed.
Add remaining oil to the pot or dutch oven. Bring to medium-high heat. Add chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken edges are beginning to brown. Add onion, ginger, and garlic. Adjust heat to keep from burning garlic and ginger. Saute until onions are translucent.
Add coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add tomatoes.
Whisk broth/stock, juice, and peanut butter until smooth. Add to the pot along with the prepared okra. Cover. Lower heat.
Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes to allow flavors to combine.
Taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.
To Serve: Using tongs, plate the spiralized sweet potatoes. Add a generous ladle or two of the groundnut stew. Garnish as desired. See notes for additional information.
I really prefer boneless, skinless thighs in this dish, but breast will certainly work too.
Cayenne adds the heat in this dish. Start conservatively, and add additional cayenne if desired. You can also substitute with crushed red pepper or a couple of dried chile de arbol (toss them in with the sauce and remove prior to serving).
As explained in the post, we really don't see yams in U.S. markets, but you can use either yams or sweet potatoes in this dish.
Fresh okra is amazing when you can get it! You can substitute frozen with good results. Skip the charring step adding with the tomatoes.
This dish is versatile. Add meat (lamb, beef, pork) or poultry, or make it vegetarian. Chick peas are a great addition if you choose to do it vegetarian.
Use fresh and seasonal vegetables when possible - eggplant and squash are great additions or substitutions.
Be creative with garnishes. You might like chopped peanuts, scallions, hard boiled egg, cashews, lime, toasted coconut... to name a few. We like chopped cilantro
The recipe includes instructions for spiralized and roasted sweet potatoes. You may prefer mashed sweet potatoes, polenta, rice, couscous, etc. The choice is yours.
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal.com as specified): 449 calories; 34 g protein; 31 g carbohydrates; 23 g fat.