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an important African crop

Peanuts (groundnuts) in Africa

The peanut or groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) is an unusual plant because its edible seeds (which are legumes) grow and ripen underground.

market, chad

It is often said that enslaved Africans brought peanuts to North America; this may be true. However, peanuts are native to South America, and were cultivated in South America and the Caribbean for centuries before they were first encountered by Europeans in the early 1500s. Europeans introduced peanuts to Africa (and perhaps North America) at that time. Peanut plants were soon widely cultivated throughout Africa, catching on quickly because they were similar to a plant already cultivated by Africans, the Bambara Groundnut (Vigna subterranea or Voandzeia subterranea). Similar, but the new world peanut proved both easier to harvest and more productive (peanuts have more fat than cream; more protein, minerals, and vitamins than beef; and more calories than sugar). The peanut soon replaced the Bambara groundnut, taking the older plant's place and even its name (peanuts are often called "groundnuts" in Africa), such that the Bambara groundnut is now called an "underutilized and neglected crop".

Without a doubt it was enslaved Africans who popularized peanuts in North America and they also introduced peanut soup to colonial America. Peanut soup is still served at George Washington's Mount Vernon home and Colonial Williamsburg (Virginia) and is featured in collections of colonial recipes. Africans also gave the peanut one of its many names in America: the Kikongo word for peanut is nguba, or as they say in the southeastern United States, goober. Eventually the combination of Africans in America and peanut cultivation led to George Washington Carver, the agricultural chemist who developed dozens of uses for the peanut.

Some African recipes that make use of peanuts are:

Chicken in Peanut-Tomato Sauce
Muamba Nsusu
Fried Fish in Peanut Sauce
Ngege with Groundnut Sauce
Beef & Greens in Peanut Sauce
Domoda
Liboké de Viande
Mafé
Moambé Stew
Oluwombo
Ribs & Eggplant in Peanut Sauce
Suya
Wild Boar in Groundnut Sauce
Elephant Soup
Groundnut Stew
Ndolé Soup
Peanut Soup
Plasas
Peanut Sauce
Sauce aux Crevettes
Githeri
Greens in Peanut Sauce
Greens with Green Pepper
Ifisashi
Koko na Nyama
Kpwem
Mfumbwa
Squash with Peanuts
Fruit Salad
Kanyah
Kashata
Ngalakh
Sugar Peanuts

If you are using peanuts (instead of peanut butter), make your own homemade peanut paste:
Remove the peanuts' shells, roast the peanuts on a baking sheet in a hot oven, or in a large skillet on the stove, stirring often, then remove the skins. Place the peanuts in a saucepan, add enough water to partially cover them and bring to a slow boil, stirring often. Reduce heat. Crush peanuts with a potato-masher, or roll them under a rolling-pin.

If using store-bought peanut butter in these recipes, choose "natural" or "unsweetened" peanut butter.


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