Beef Mafe

published Dec 3, 2021
Beef Mafe Recipe

Mafe, a Senegalese peanut-based stew, is a beautiful blend of rich, creamy peanut butter; tomato; and hearty vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and cabbage.

Serves6

Prep35 minutes

Cook1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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mafe in bowl on top of rice
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

During the winter months, I gravitate towards dishes that promise warmth and comfort; I shudder at the thought of all the chilled dishes I happily enjoyed just months ago in the warmer weather. And out of all the cozy soups and stews, I always come back to mafe.

Mafe is a beautiful blend of rich, creamy peanut butter; savory tomato paste; and hearty vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. This version also features tender chunks of beef, although chicken and lamb are commonly used, too. Once you try it, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it — which means you’ll want it add it to your weekly winter lineup.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Where Did Mafe Originate?

Mafe originated in Senegal and tells the story of Senegal’s history through its ingredients. Peanuts, which are the foundation of mafe, are not indigenous to West Africa, but were brought to the region by European traders in the 17th century and went on to become a staple in the Senegalese diet.

Fish sauce is another common ingredient in mafe, imparting umami richness and depth of flavor. How is it that this Asian ingredient became a component of this West African stew? Senegal is a former French colony, as is Vietnam, and during the French Indochina Wars, thousands of Senegalese men were sent to Vietnam by the French. While there, some of those men married Vietnamese women who eventually moved to Senegal with their husbands. As is the story in countries around the world, these immigrants brought with them many of their food traditions from home, and shared them in their new country.

Serving Beef Mafe

I can’t imagine anything more simultaneously soothing and exciting as a serving of beef mafe spooned over a bowl of fluffy white rice. If you prefer, it’s also delicious paired with fonio or couscous.

Beef Mafe Recipe

Mafe, a Senegalese peanut-based stew, is a beautiful blend of rich, creamy peanut butter; tomato; and hearty vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and cabbage.

Prep time 35 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    large yellow onion

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 (1-inch) piece

    ginger

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    sweet potatoes (2 to 3 medium)

  • 1 pound

    carrots (5 to 6 medium)

  • 12 ounces

    Yukon Gold potatoes (3 to 4 medium)

  • 1/4

    small head green cabbage (about 8 ounces)

  • 1/4 cup

    peanut oil

  • 1 pound

    beef stew meat

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons

    fish sauce

  • 2 tablespoons

    tomato paste

  • 3/4 cup

    creamy unsweetened peanut butter

  • 1 (32-ounce) carton

    low-sodium beef stock or broth (4 cups)

  • 1

    habanero pepper (optional)

  • Cooked white rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Thinly slice 1 large yellow onion (about 3 cups), thinly slice 4 garlic cloves (about 1 heaping tablespoon), peel and mince 1 (1-inch) piece ginger (about 1 tablespoon).

  2. Prepare the following: Peel and dice 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes into 1-inch pieces (about 3 1/2 cups), peel and cut 1 pound carrots crosswise into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups), peel and dice 12 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes into 1-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups), core 1/4 small head cabbage and cut in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1-inch strips (about 4 cups).

  3. Pat 1 pound beef stew meat dry with paper towels and cut into 1-inch chunks. Season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Heat 1/4 cup peanut oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add the beef and sear until browned all over, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

  4. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger to the pot and cook until the onions are translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons fish sauce, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Stir and cook until the paste is darkened in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter and stir until the peanut butter is fully incorporated.

  5. Add 1 (32-ounce) carton low-sodium beef broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to fully dissolve the peanut butter and tomato paste, 5 to 7 minutes.

  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add 1 habanero pepper and the seared beef and any accumulated juices. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is fragrant and has reduced slightly, about 15 minutes.

  7. Add the cabbage and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage and carrots are slightly tender, about 10 minutes. Add the sweet and Yukon Gold potatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

  8. Remove the habanero pepper before serving. Serve over white rice.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.