Friday, April 12, 2013

Ebinyebwa or Ugadan Peanut Stew: A New Twist to Navratri.

Food somehow has a way of bringing people together....

There have been times that I've had random strangers walk up to me, and comment on my home-packed lunch. Many times, I've done the same. A lot of students have asked to, or offered me, a taste of what we've got for lunch.  Many a times, I have picked up a recipe or two following our interaction over food. The two that immediately come to mind, and that I've shared on this space are Buckeyes, and Watergate salad. There are several others, random scraps of paper, that are just waiting to be tried.   Waiting for me to garner up my courage and take a dive....But rarely have I had a vision of the occasion that I would try the recipe at flash before my eye while hearing someone speak of it; until now.

A couple weeks ago, I had leftover kali masoor ki dal for lunch.  I sat reading my book while the food warmed, when in walks a student..... drawn to the kitchen because it "smelled like home", she said. I offered her my dal, that I called "black lentil soup" for her benefit;  and she, in turn, gave me this recipe of a peanut stew from home that my food reminded her of.  As she sat there telling me how to cook it, my brain kept thinking that this was a perfect fasting recipe for Navratris....I learnt fairly recently that peanuts are allowed during the fasting, and was super excited for this recipe....I have never waited for a day of fasting as anxiously as I did this time.  And yesterday- the first night of Navratri, I had a Ugandan recipe for dinner :-)

Ebinyebwa: Ugandan Peanut Stew

For the stew:
Peanuts,  roasted and skinned 1/3 cup
Water 1 cup
Tomato paste 2tsp
mixed vegetables- I just had potatoes today. She said, anything goes.
Green chill 1 chopped
Ginger about 1/2 inch piece julienned fine.
Salt and red chill powder to taste
Turmeric powder  a small pinch *
Coriander powder 1/2tsp *

For the tempering:
Vegetable oil 1Tbsp
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp *
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp*

* She said she used curry powder- and that curry powder typically contains coriander, cumin and mustard, but is yellow. So I used these 4 ingredients out of my pantry in place of store-bought curry powder. 
  1. Roast and skin the peanuts. Then grind them up using a coffee grinder.
  2. Mix the peanut "flour" with water. Stir thoroughly to avoid lumps.
  3. Heat the oil, and add cumin and mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the green chillies and ginger and sauté for a minute or so.
  4. Now add the peanut-water mix and the spices to the tempering. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  5. Cook for about 10 min. The stew thickens as it cooks, so adjust water if needed.
  6. Meanwhile, cut the potato into bite sized chunks and microwave till done.
  7. Add the potatoes (or other vegetables) to the sauce.
  8. Serve with rice.
My two cents: It didn't smell like my kali Masoor ki dal, I don't think. But that's trivial. The sauce was easy to put together, used ingredients that I already had in my pantry, and did taste had a strong nutty flavor to it, that you've got to acquire a taste for. I loved it, A didn't. But then I'm the one who polishes off peanut chutney when we eat South Indian food; not him. I buy myself the peanut brittle, while he goes for really have to like the strong peanut taste to appreciate this. My friend L had said that in Uganda you serve this stew over a bowl of rice, so I had my sama ke chawal to go with it. And I could see how she called it the most comforting meal at fasting soul was immensely comforted by Ebinyebwa :-)

Navratri Greetings to you all!!

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MLLA 58 hosted by Claire, and initiated by Susan and now looked after by Lisa.