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Food of the Sudan

Food of the Sudan

Sudanese Beef Stew

Sudan is another country influenced by African, Arabic and colonial cultures. Indigenous peoples had grains and root vegetables, as well as native proteins.

Arab settlers brought new flavors and ingredients from the Levant, but the cuisine is still predominantly simple porridges and breads, filled out with soups and stews. This is typical of the region, where fuel can be hard to find.

The Special Broadcasting System in Australia (a source of multicultural and diversity-focused information) presented a recipe for a typical Sudanese stew of beef, peanuts and spinach. I adapted the recipe and added more bold flavors using traditional ingredients.

The stew includes native ingredients such as sweet potatoes and peanuts (known to most of the world as the African Ground Nut). Served with a grain, it is filling and nutritious.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil;

1 1/2 pounds trimmed beef (chuck or sirloin roast) 3/4 inch dice;

1 large onion, finely diced (about 2 cups);

5 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons);

2 tablespoons tomato paste;

2 quarts homemade or reduced-sodium beef stock;

1 sweet potato, 3/4 inch dice (about 3 cups);

2 bunches spinach, rinsed and rough chopped (or 12-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and drained);

2 large tomatoes, diced (or 12-ounce can);

3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, ground smooth (plus more for garnish);

Salt and pepper to taste;

2 teaspoons ground ginger;

1teaspoon dried thyme;

1 teaspoon rubbed sage;

Spinach leaves, fresh parsley, green onion or other fresh herbs for garnish;

Grain (rice, couscous, millet) to serve

Brown the beef in 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven or pot. Remove the beef and sauté the onions, garlic and tomato paste in the remaining oil with some salt and pepper. Deglaze with the stock and bring to a simmer.

Start the side starch at this time. Wilt the spinach in another pan and drain well. Add the spinach, tomatoes and seasonings to the stew and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Adjust seasoning and serve over the starch, garnishing each bowl with peanuts, julienned spinach and fresh herbs.

To cook hulled millet, a native African food source and one of the oldest domesticated grains, toast one cup of millet in a hot pan with 2 teaspoons butter or oil, stirring constantly for at least three minutes. The toasting grains will give off a nutty aroma.

Add twice the volume of water or stock, some salt (and a pinch of saffron if you like) and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a bare simmer and allow the millet to absorb most of the liquid (about 20 minutes). Move the covered pot off the heat and let it sit for an additional 10 minutes to finish cooking.

Fluff the millet with a fork and add any additional seasonings. Serve warm, as millet does not hold well once cooked. Try not to stir the millet once the liquid is added, as millet can disintegrate and become gummy.

This is a great option for gluten-free cooking. Combined with cooked beans, it is a complete protein, perfect for vegetarians or vegans who need amino acids in their diets.

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Steve “Mo” Fye is an Instructional Tech in the Culinary Arts program at Central New Mexico Community College and has been known to giggle after making a low-fat, gluten-free, low-cholesterol dish and eating it with a sauce he knows will blow his diet for days.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.