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Maya Angelou's Groundnut StewCompiled by Vicki McClure Davidson
Acclaimed author, poet, playwright, and journalist, Maya Angelou has been, and still is, an inspiration to millions. She's been a relentless pioneer and broken much ground during her life in her pursuit to help tear through racial barriers and improve American civil rights. She was the first black and female cable car conductor in San Francisco. She wrote the first original screenplay by a black woman to be produced: Georgia Georgia. During the 1960s, she was the northern coordinator of Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Council. She wrote songs for B.B. King, worked as an associate editor of an English language newspaper in Cairo, Egypt, was a features editor for a newspaper in Ghana, and was an assistant administrator of the University of Ghana.
Not many realize that Angelou had been an accomplished dancer and stage actress throughout the 1950s. She developed a reputation among the avant-garde, and appeared in Porgy and Bess on a 22-nation tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department in 1954–1955. She studied dance with Martha Graham. Even after her name was recognized in millions of American households as a prominent black female writer (her birth first name, by the way, is Marguerite, but she was nicknamed 'Maya' by her older brother when she was a child, and the nickname has stuck ever since), she continued to dabble in occasional film and TV roles. She was nominated for an Emmy for her role in the 1977 TV miniseries Roots, based on Alex Haley's novel. She also appeared with Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur in the 1993 film Poetic Justice.
Her literary works and nominations and awards of achievement overshadow so many others in her field. Angelou has been called "America's most visible black female autobiographer" and became a distinctive voice for the rights of blacks. Angelou is perhaps best known for her series of six autobiographies, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in 1969, which was nominated for a National Book Award. Her volume of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie (1971) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at Pres. Clinton's inauguration in 1993. Angelou's most famous poem, "Still I Rise," has become an American classic.
She has been honored extensively for her body of work, including being awarded more than 30 honorary degrees. Angelou has also received a Tony Award nomination for her role in the 1973 play Look Away and three Grammys for her spoken-word albums.
Maya Angelou's frugal groundnut stew uses chicken and both peanut butter and peanut oil (peanuts are called groundnuts in many African countries) and is hearty and satisfying. Kids will love eating this, especially on cold, dreary, wet nights. Groundnut stew is a national dish in many West African countries.
The garnishes listed at the end of the ingredients list need to be included to enhance the flavors of the stew, particularly the not-expected fried banana chunks, so don't leave them out, even if they appear a bit weird to you. Believe us, this is a great-tasting and nutritious dish.
Maya Angelou's Groundnut Stew
- 2 whole frying chickens
- 1/2 c. lemon juice
- 4 T. peanut oil
- 2 c. chopped onion
- 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
- 2 hot dried red peppers (soaked in water)
- 2 c. chicken broth (made from backs and wings)
- 1-1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
- Garnishes (prepare and serve in separate side dishes): Diced avocado, diced papaya, diced pineapple, diced tomato mixed with diced raw onion; chunks of banana, fried in butter, sprinkled with lemon juice (this is an important garnish for this dish, so be sure to include)
Cut chickens into pieces, making four drumsticks, four thighs, and four breast halves. Use the backs and wings to make chicken broth (need 2 cups for recipe).
Place chicken parts in bowl, add lemon juice, mixing to coat evenly. Cover and marinate at least two hours.
Remove chicken, pat dry. Salt and dust lightly with flour. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet, brown chicken well. Set aside. In same skillet, sauté onion until transparent.
In a bowl, combine the chicken, chicken broth, peanut butter, and tomato paste. Add to the onion in the skillet, mixing thoroughly. Add chicken pieces. Cover and simmer 40 minutes.
Just before serving, squeeze the juice of the two red peppers into chicken mixture. Serve the groundnut stew with white boiled rice and the prepared garnishes on the side. This stew is delicious and is a national dish for many West African countries.
Makes 8 servings.
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Internet Movie Database, "Maya Angelou," (www.imdb.com).
Wells, Dean Faulkner (editor), The Great American Writers' Cookbook, Yoknapatawpha Press, Oxford, Mississippi, 1981.
Wikipedia website, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_Angelou).