Words and recipe by Bryant Terry, author of Afro-Vegan, published by Ten Speed Press on April 8, 2014.
Please stay tuned in the next coming days for our exclusive interview with Bryant Terry for Africa on the Blog.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Soundtrack: “Ya Messinagh” by Tinariwen (featuring The Dirty Dozen Brass Band) from Tassili
2⁄3 cup dried lima beans, sorted and soaked in water overnight
1 (3-inch) piece of kombu
11⁄2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
Scant 2 cups vegetable stock, homemade (page 42) or store-bought
Large pinch of saffron threads
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely diced yellow onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
Freshly ground white pepper
1⁄4 cup packed chopped cilantro
Spicy Mustard Greens (page 25), for serving
Tagine, a popular dish in North Africa, is named after the earthenware pot in which these stews are traditionally cooked. This is a simple version that combines ingredients from the American South with herbs and spices used in traditional North African cooking. Like most stews, this dish tastes even better after the flavors have melded overnight. Serve it with Skillet Cornbread with Pecan Dukkah (page 131) for a satisfying meal.
Drain the lima beans and rinse them well. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add the kombu and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer until just tender but still firm, 25 to 45 minutes. Check the beans often to ensure that they don’t overcook, skimming off any foam and discarding any floating skins. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the salt and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander, remove the kombu, and rinse the beans under cold water.
Pour the stock into a medium bowl and crumble the saffron into it.
Warm the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the stock. Add the sweet potatoes, agave nectar, and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
Stir in the lima beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Season with white pepper and, if desired, more salt. Serve garnished with the cilantro and offer the harissa alongside.