Hkatenkwan (Ghanaian Groundnut Stew)

I stumbled across this on tastespotting and was curious about this African "peanut butter" stew. I love the individual ingredients...peanut butter, sweet potato, chickpeas, chili flakes...but all together in a peppery, tomato-based stew? I've never had anything like this, so I figured I'd either love or hate this. Challenge: accepted. 

I found a few recommended and traditional recipes, keeping the traditional and most common ingredients. I added a little fennel and Thai fish sauce to add some flavour twists and swapped out the cayenne pepper for chili flakes for a nice heat (we like it spicy)! Well, an hour of simmering chili flakes made for a lingering burn, so I blended up a fruit lassi to take away the sting and it was perfect.

The final result: a spicy, peanut buttery heaven that is going in my all-time favorite recipes.

Groundnut is the common African word for peanut. This chicken groundnut stew is the Western African (Ghanaian) version of the groundnut/tomato stew eaten all over sub-Saharan Africa. The Western African style is usually more elaborate, with more ingredients and garnishes, which is noted in the optional ingredients. Suggested serving sides include ginger beer or green tea w/ mint with or after the meal to drink, followed with a fruit salad. 

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 45 minutes 
Yield: Serves 6-8 

  • 2-3 pounds Chicken legs, thighs and/or wings
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp Peanut oil
  • 1 large Onion (yellow), sliced
  • 3-inch piece of Ginger, peeled and minced
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
  • 2-3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 15-oz can of crushed Tomatoes 
  • 1 quart Chicken stock 
  • 1 cup Peanut butter 
  • 1 cup roasted Peanuts
  • 1 can Chickpeas 
  • 1 tbsp ground Coriander 
  • 1 (heaping) tbsp Fennel, to taste 
  • ~1.5 tbsp Thai Fish Sauce 
  • 1 tsp dried Chili flakes
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste (skip the salt if using salted peanuts; lots of cracked black pepper) 
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro (didn't have) 
  • Optional additions: green chile peppers/habanero, bell pepper, pumpkin, squash, carrot, okra, eggplant, boiled egg.
  • Optional sides: steamed rice and (it's not African, but serve with) a fruit lassi to cool the heat ;)

  1. Heat the vegetable and peanut oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Salt the chicken pieces well, pat them dry and brown them in the oil. Don't crowd the pot, so do this in batches. Set the chicken pieces aside as they brown. 
  2. Sauté the onions in the oil for 3-4 minutes, stirring often and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and stir well to combine. 
  3. Add the chicken, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, chickpeas, coriander, fennel, fish sauce, and chili flakes and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer and taste for salt, adding if needed (depends if you use salted peanuts and salted peanut butter - you may not need to add any salt). Cover the pot and simmer gently for 90 minutes (check after an hour), or until the chicken meat easily falls off the bone and the sweet potatoes are tender. 
  4. Remove the chicken pieces and set them in a bowl to cool, until cool enough to touch. Remove and discard the skin if you want, or chop it and put it back into the pot. Shred the meat off the bones and put the meat back in the pot. 
  5. Adjust the seasonings if needed, then add as much black pepper as you think you can stand—the stew should be peppery. Stir in the cilantro and serve with a cool drink (ginger beer, green tea w/ mint, or my fav for spicy foods: fruit lassi)!



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