Zimbabwean Vegetable and Peanut Stew
(with or without chicken)
(Huku ne Dovi)
This ceremonial dish for special occasions in Zimbabwe villages is a "must eat" for anyone who loves good food. It's rich and sweet, thick and succulent--not to mention piquant!--with an unusual and beautiful combination of vegetables. Chicken is expensive in Zimbabwe and only brought out for feasts--which is to say that vegetarians would not be at all violating the authenticity of the dish by cutting out the chicken and substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock. Serve hot as a meal to 6-8 people--ideally with sadza , or fried cornmeal mush. It's traditional to eat this right out of the pot (or from a big serving dish).
In a large pot, fry the onion in the oil until soft, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in 1 cup of the stock. Whisk in the peanut butter, then stir in the rest of the stock, the tomatoes with their juice, salt and pepper to taste, and the hot pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir in the cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots, and turnips, bring back to a boil, then reduce heat again, cover, and cook for 20 more minutes.
Stir in the okra and chicken chunks, cover, and let stew for 30 minutes.
To serve, gather your guests around a table and invite them to dig in. Or ladle it out into individual soup bowls and serve with cornbread or the traditional fried cornmeal mush.