Stew is an important go-to dish in many West African countries, either as an everyday meal or for celebratory events, such as weddings, graduations and Christmas. It pairs with a variety of starches, like rice and/or plantains, yams and beans. Depending on the country, the base of the stew can vary. In Ghana, which is my homeland, the base is a blend of tomato puree and tomato paste. My husband, on the other hand, is a native of Nigeria, where the base is tomato pureed with red bell pepper. This recipe is a hybrid of both versions with the addition of garlic. While stew can be made with several meat or seafood options, goat is the preferred choice in my home and in certain West African countries for its rich and robust flavor.
Combine the goat meat with 1/2 cup of the onions and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium pot. Add enough water to cover the meat. Cover with the lid and cook over medium heat, until tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the goat meat to a medium bowl. Reserve the broth.
Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, bell pepper, habanero, if using, and 1 cup of the remaining onions in a blender or food processor; blend until smooth and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Using the slotted spoon, transfer the goat meat to the skillet and cook until browned all over, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the goat meat to the same bowl.
Add the remaining 4 tablespoons oil to the same skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the remaining 1/2 cup onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and stir until grainy in appearance in the oil, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato-pepper puree and stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the bouillon powder, curry powder, thyme, bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt; stir to combine and cook for 3 minutes. Add the goat meat and 2 tablespoons of the reserved broth (save the rest for another use); stir to combine. Cover and simmer over low heat until a layer of oil appears on the surface and the stew is thickened and bright reddish in color, about 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Serve with rice and/or sweet plantains.
Alternatively, keep the bay leaves whole before adding them to the stew.
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