It’s nuts how much you can do with the modest legume
Andrea's recipe for almost-Zimbabwean chicken in peanut sauce
Peanut butter is yet another one of those dividing foods, like Bovril, okra and anchovies. Actually, it creates an extra division: there are those who love it, those who hate it and those who it kills when it induces anaphylaxis because they are allergic to it. While we tend to laugh off status-symbol “allergies”, for those who have a real condition, it’s real scary. You can hardly blame the moms who park (very sheepishly) outside a hospital trauma unit, with offspring in car, before administering the first smudge of peanut butter to their toddler. Just in case. It’s a famously common occurrence.
Of course, peanuts are not actually nuts. All of us clever gastronauts know this now. As their other name, groundnuts, tells us they don’t grow on trees, which is what “real” nuts, in their more expensive and haughty way, do. But peanuts confuse us because they share many traits with more pedigreed nuts. With their high fat content, they don’t appear to have much in common with the legume family to which they belong. Almond butter yes, peanut butter, yes. Lentil butter? Not so sure.
What lies below – a slight adaptation of the best Zimbabwean-style version I’ve been shown – is one of my favourite ways with the modest legume. As the recipe states, you can use bought peanut butter instead of grinding your own paste, but don’t buy the loco ones with the added sugar, stabilisers and such. They often don’t behave the same way, and you want a nice, tame peanut butter that doesn’t act up in your sauce. ..