From “Cross Cultural Holiday” article in the December 2017 issue.

Ahmed Obo’s Curried Black Bean and Butternut Squash Stew
At Jambo Café, in Santa Fe, many of Chef Ahmed Obo’s dishes make use of humble ingredients such as squash and beans but also layer them with complex flavors, including coconut and curry and other spices. This stew is the perfect example with a simply magical taste. Ahmed served the stew over steamy white rice. 

Serves 8 or more

  • 3–4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced 
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger 
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1½ tablespoons curry powder 
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger 
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme 
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 1 cup chopped Roma or plum tomatoes 
  • 14- to 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed, or 2 cups freshly cooked black beans 
  • 1 medium butternut squash,
  • peeled and diced 
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or more as needed 
  • 14-ounce can coconut milk 
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry 
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • to taste
  • Cooked white rice (optional)

1. In a medium-size soup pot, warm olive oil over medium heat. Stir in onions, ginger, and garlic, and saute them until soft, about 5–8 minutes. Add dried spices and continue stirring 3 or 4 minutes, until spices begin to pop. Stir in tomato paste and tomatoes and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, until a paste forms. 

2. Add black beans, diced butternut squash, and stock. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer for 15–20 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Add another ½–1 cup stock if the mixture gets dry. Mix in coconut milk, sherry, and rice wine vinegar. Cook for another 10–15 minutes. Add salt and pepper, as needed. 

3. Serve hot in big bowls, over rice if you wish.