Surprise your taste buds with this ultra velvety and nutty version of creamed spinach - you will be amazed at how these few simple ingredients can produce a dish with such rich flavour. No dairy is used in this Sudanese recipe, but the velvety sauce is as luscious as if you'd used cream. Then try another unique peanut recipe from Sudan - light and delicate Peanut Meringues, with just 4 simple ingredients. These crispy, creamy little morsels are totally addictive. (Skip to recipes.)
We're off on another virtual culinary visit to the continent of Africa this month for our Eat the World recipe challenge. We're heading to the East African countries of Sudan (officially known as 'Republic of the Sudan') and South Sudan ('Republic of South Sudan'). For more than a century these two countries were considered one land, but since the secession of the southern part in 2011, they are now divided into two independent countries, with the Nile River flowing from south to north through both. They are extremely hot in climate, with Sudan having more of a desert type landscape, while the topography of South Sudan is more varied, with a combination of grasslands, forests, and plains. The main crops for Sudan are cotton, peanuts (groundnuts), sesame, gum arabic, sorghum, and sugarcane, and for South Sudan, which has more of a subsistence economy due to its continued levels of civil war, they are sorghum, maize, millet, and rice.
Despite its difficult history of poverty and strife, this region of Africa produces some very tasty dishes. I'm intrigued by the use of peanuts, one of their staple crops, to flavour dishes both sweet and savoury (common in much of Africa). My research turned up this most amazing dish of creamed spinach from South Sudan, using peanut butter as the base for a lusciously silky sauce with a very intriguing flavour profile. You taste it and say, 'What?????' Your tongue can't quite place the flavour but it is nutty and oh-so-creamily delicious. You really need to try it yourself to see what I mean. This spinach dish has got an amazing taste and texture, with not a drop of dairy cream in it. The spinach is still bright, fresh-tasting and toothsome, napped in its thick, silky sauce. I was slurping down a bowl of it even before I could get it onto the table.
And then, hot on the peanut trail, I unearthed another Sudanese delicacy - peanut macaroons, or macarons, or meringues - called Ful Sudani. I can't really decide which they are, but settled on meringues, because they are really just whipped egg whites with icing sugar and peanuts. They're a light, crispy little cookie with a soft center, just like French macarons (but without the filling holding two biscuits together). One bite and you're smiling - it's a little peanut butter cookie in cloud form. So good.
These are two Sudanese dishes that will definitely be showing up again on my table. I'm so happy to have found them.
I am continually awed at the culinary treasures to be discovered as we travel the world to explore historical dishes and flavour combinations that may be hundreds of years old, but are new and exiting to our palates. It's just another small way we can feel connected to humankind around the globe and share little bits of our cultures with each other.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: You can substitute three (300 g) packages of chopped frozen spinach, thawed, for the fresh spinach. Or use the same weight of chopped Swiss chard leaves (without the stems) and cook for a minute or two longer. Full-sized regular spinach with the stems works better for this dish than prewashed packages of baby spinach leaves, which are much more delicate and become too soft when cooked. The stems and thicker leaves of mature spinach add better texture to the finished dish.
Natural, unsweetened peanut butter is best to use here, so the dish isn't made slightly sweet from the added sugar in regular peanut butter.
This recipe serves 5 to 6. Scroll to the end of the recipe for the ingredient amounts to make a smaller batch of Sudanese Peanut Creamed Spinach to serve 4.
Sudanese Peanut Creamed Spinach
adapted from Taste of South Sudan
- 1½ lbs (680 g) whole leaf spinach (3 large bunches/24 cups chopped and loosely packed)
- ¾ cup (180 ml) water
- 1 large onion, diced
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- pinch of cayenne or black pepper to taste
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon (150 g) natural, smooth peanut butter (without added sugar)
- 1 large tomato, diced (½-inch/1cm)
Rinse the spinach leaves: leave them tied in bundles and swish them around in a big bowl of cold water several times to rinse off dirt, then hold each bundle upright under running water, letting it swish between the leaves, to give them a second rinse. Shake off excess water, then set the bundles upright in a bowl or pot to drain. When they are well drained, lay the bundle on a cutting board, remove the twist tie, and spread the leaves out a bit. Pick out any bruised or damaged leaves. Push the leaves back together into a bundle with all the stems facing the same way. Slice the stems, all in a bunch, into thin slices (½-inch/1 cm), then when you get to the leafy part of the bundle, slice it into 1-inch (2.5cm) sections. Repeat with the remaining bundles and set the chopped spinach aside in a large bowl.
Heat the water and chopped onion in a large pot over medium-high heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the onion is translucent.
Add the chopped spinach, salt, and cayenne or a few grindings of black pepper. You may have to add the spinach in batches as it wilts down.
Cook, stirring down the spinach until it is all wilted and still bright green - 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the peanut butter and stir to distribute it among the spinach. Add a splash of water if the sauce is too dry.
Stir in the diced tomato and heat the mixture just until it starts to bubble and the tomato pieces are heated through. Remove from heat and serve immediately, or reduce temperature to lowest setting and keep warm for a few minutes until serving time.
Serve Peanut Creamed Spinach as a side dish, or serve it as a main dish with cooked rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, flatbread or ugali (African cornmeal).
Serves 4 as a main dish, or 6 as a side dish.
To Make a Smaller Amount of Sudanese Creamed Spinach to Serve Four as a Side Dish
- 1 lb (450-500 g) fresh whole leaf spinach (2 large bunches)
- ½ cup (120ml) water
- 1 medium onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- pinch of cayenne or grinding of black pepper to taste
- 6 tablespoons (100 g) natural, smooth peanut butter (without added sugar)
- 1 medium tomato, diced
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Kitchen Frau Notes: Imagine these cookies as Peanut Macarons; make a chocolate ganache by melting together an equal weight of dark chocolate and heavy cream in the microwave or double boiler. Stir. Let cool slightly, then spread it between two Peanut Meringues, attaching them together with the flat sides. Yum.
Natural peanut butter works best here as it is more thin and runny than peanut butter with other added ingredients, so it is easier to combine with the egg whites. Make sure to stir it well before measuring to incorporate any oil that separates.
Sudanese Peanut Meringues (Ful Sudani)
- 3 large egg whites
- pinch of salt (omit if peanut butter has salt added)
- 1 cup (140 g) icing sugar/powdered sugar/confectioner's sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (275 g) natural peanut butter, chunky or smooth (or 2 cups/275 grams peanuts, roasted, skinned, and ground finely)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Whip the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Add the icing sugar gradually and continue beating until the mixture is glossy. Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate it.
Measure the peanut butter into a bowl. Add about ¼ of the beaten whites and stir them gently into the peanut butter to loosen it up. Add the remaining beaten egg whites and fold them in to the peanut mixture loosely - it should still look a little streaky.
Use a slightly heaped tablespoon of batter (or a #50 cookie scoop) to drop mounds of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least one inch (2.5cm) of space between them.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges are a light golden colour. Watch them closely - you don't want them to be too brown.
Leave the meringues to cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove them to a baking rack to cool.
Makes 32 cookies.
Check out all the wonderful Sudanese dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
Palatable Pastime Best Easy Hummus
Magical Ingredients: Sudanese Tamia
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Sudanese Peanut Stew
Pandemonium Noshery: Kamounia - Sudanese Stewed Beef
Sneha’s Recipe: Gurasa - Sudanese Flatbread
Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Red Lentil Soup (Sudanese Addas)
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Basbousa and Karkadé
Making Miracles: Sudanese Rice and Potato Goulash
Kitchen Frau: Peanut Butter Creamed Spinach and Sudanese Peanut Butter Meringues
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Check out my past ‘Eat the World’ Recipe Challenge posts:
(in alphabetical order)
- Argentina: Red Chimichurri Sauce
- Bangladesh: Chingri Masala (Shrimp Curry)
- Bulgaria: Patatnik (Savoury Potato and Cheese Pie)
- Cambodia: Noum Kong (Cambodian Rice Flour Doughnuts)
- Colombia: Pan de Yuca (Warm Cheese Buns)
- Egypt: Fava Beans and Feta
- England: Gluten Free Fish and Chips and Mushy Peas
- Ethiopia: Four Ethiopian Recipes for a Fantastic Feast
- Fiji: Spiced Sweet Potato and Banana Salad
- Finland: Lohikeitto (Creamy Salmon, Potato, and Dill Soup)
- France: Axoa d’Espelette (A Simple Stew from the Basque Country)
- Georgia: Charkhlis Chogi (Beets with Sour Cherry Sauce)
- Hungary: Túrós Csusza (Pasta with Cottage Cheese)
- India: Kerala Upma (Fluffy, Kerala Style Breakfast Upma Recipe)
- Iraq: Tepsi Baytinijan (Eggplant & Meatball Casserole)
- Ireland: Dublin Coddle (A tasty Sausage and Potato Stew)
- Israel: Cucumber, Feta, and Watermelon Salad
- Jamaica: Rice and Peas (Coconut Rice and Red Beans)
- Kenya: Maharagwe with Ugali (Red Beans with Cornmeal Slice)
- Laos: Ping Gai (Lao Grilled Chicken Wings)
- Mexico: Cochinita Pibil Tacos (Pit Barbecued Pig to Make in Your Oven)
- Netherlands: Boerenkool Stamppot (Kale-Potato Mash with Sausages & Pears)
- New Zealand: Classic Pavlova
- Poland: Polish Honey Cake
- Portugal: Tuna and Sardine Pâtés
- Puerto Rico: Piña Colada Cocktail
- Senegal: Mafé (Beef and Peanut Stew)
- Sweden: Swedish Meatballs with Cream Gravy
- Switzerland (Christmas): Basler Leckerli Cookies
- Thailand: Shrimp Laksa (Khung)
- Trinidad & Tobago: Peanut Butter Prunes
- Ukraine: Buckwheat Kasha with Beef
- United States (Soul Food): Smothered Pork Chops
- Vietnam: Caramelized Pork Rice Bowls