The common peanut, also referred to as the groundnut, is actually a legume so technically not a nut. The seed is high in nutrients, generally averaging 25% digestible protein and 42-52% oil. A pound of peanuts has the same energy value as 2 lbs of beef, 9 pints of milk or 36 eggs (source: Alternative Feed Crop Manual).
As peanuts grow best in light soils with temperatures around 85°F it is especially idea for southern Mali and Guinea. In Western Africa cotton is being replaced by peanut production due to its higher profitability potential and a flexible source of nutrients for both human and animal consumption. The leaves are used as a green in stews or dried for a high protein animal feed. When we think of peanuts we may think of roasted seeds, ground peanut butter or cooking oil. In West Africa, as in many other cultures, peanut sauce may be the favorite.
The groundnuts are roasted with a small amount of maize bran to prevent the seeds from splitting during the process. Alternatively, use shelled, raw peanuts and pan roast in a wok over low heat, stirring constantly. Or use an oven at 350°F for approximately 3-5 minutes. Stir or shake during the process. They will burn quickly so watch them carefully.
The skin is then taken off by gently rubbing.
Note: Another option for eating is to boil whole raw peanuts in salt water. Experiment with length of time. The peanut will still be soft-not crunchy- and just slightly salty within the shell. They are surprisingly tasty. Serve warm.
The fresh, roasted peanuts are ground by hand with nothing added. Alternatively, use a food processor. Honey and salt to taste. Oil can be added if needed depending on the variety of peanut used.
Here the groundnut product is sold in the market for cooking not used for sandwich spreads.
Preparing the peanut sauce is a separate step. In this dish, eggplant and ground goat are added to peanut leaves, but there are many options such as Sweet Potato Vine Stew with peanut or eggplant leaves substituted for sweet potato.
Sustainable Sheep Production assignment, Mali, West Africa (June 2013). Farmer to Farmer program, USAID.