Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew

Every cuisine has its signature flavor combinations. This stew of tomatoes, peanut butter and a beautiful spice blend elevates beans and spuds into a serious, main course delight. It has all the right moves for sweet, salty, sour, and spicy.

I am a fan of seeking out pre-mixed spice blends. Rather than hunt down several spices and herbs from my cabinet (and surely missing one or two), I stock classic blends that are versatile and save time and money.

One blend I love for this dish (or for eggplant or a melange of grilled vegetables) is called “ras el hanout.” It translates as top-of-the-shelf. As with most North African spices I have used, it has a mild spiciness to make a dish glow. Here is a recipe to blend your own.

My go-to purveyor is: World Spice Merchants. They hand-blend almost any combination in the world, either whole or ground and then mail to you. Whole spice blends have lasted for years. I just grind before using. Penzeys is also another good spice blend source.

Substitute blends for this dish: garam masala, harissa, berbere, or curry

When preparing this stew I prefer to cook the beans and sweet potatoes individually and separately and then add to the sautéed base and simmer to marry all the flavors. That way you do not overcook the potatoes to get the beans just right.

Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew

INGREDIENTS

Sweet Potato
photo by Llez wikimedia
  • olive oil, 2 TBS.
  • ras el hanout, 1 TBS.
  • onion, 2 cups, (1 large), chopped
  • bell pepper, 2 cups, (2 medium), chopped
  • garlic, fresh, 2 tsp., chopped
  • tomatoes, 15 oz. can, peeled with juice
  • chickpeas, cooked, 15 oz. can
  • sweet potato, 2 cups, cooked, 1/2 inch dice
  • water, (or broth),  1 cup, or more to maintain stew consistency
  • gingerroot, fresh, 2 tsp., grated (or ginger powder)
  • salt, 1-1/2 tsp.
  • pepper, 1/2 tsp.
  • raisins, 1/4 cup
  • kale, (optional), cooked, 2 cups – (or spinach, or chard), chopped
  • peanut butter, 2 TBS.
  • lemon juice, 2 TBS.
  • cilantro, minced, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS: This recipe assumes you have pre-cooked beans and sweet potatoes. If you prefer to cook potatoes in the stew, peel them and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

  1. In a large pot heat the olive oil and add the ras el hanout, onions, and bell pepper. Cook a few minutes until softened.
  2. Add the garlic, and cook for a minute. Chop or break up the tomatoes and add to pot along with its juice, add cooked chickpeas, cooked sweet potatoes, and additional water or broth to maintain a loose stew consistency.
  3. Add the ginger, salt, pepper, raisins, cooked kale (if using), and peanut butter. Bring to a bare simmer for 15 minutes, covered.
  4. Add the lemon juice and cilantro. Adjust for seasoning.
  5. Great served over rice, or polenta.

 

To serve as a side dish, use a slotted spoon and reserve the liquid for a future planned-over soup component.

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