This is a recipe, but it's also a story of adaptation. The adaptation of one Ugandan teenager, pregnant and alone, to her new home in Philadelphia in 1975. That young woman is Daniel's mom. While the details of the story remain fuzzy, the concept is clear. When you are thrown into a world that is very unfamiliar and likely scary, you yearn for something from home - like food that your mom used to make when you were growing up. But at 17, Daniel's mom hadn't yet learned to cook, so she had to teach herself. And further, she had to recreate this Ugandan comfort food from memory and with ingredients from an American grocery store. So with persistence and lots of trial and error, she managed to create her own version of this comfort food from home.
At Daniel's house, this would be served with matooke (a green banana stew which I'll write up the next time I make it) and perhaps some tofu and mushrooms (a recent addition to the mix - pan fried almost to the point of charring and heavily peppered). I learned how to make these dishes after watching her cook on several occasions (no measurements, just by taste). So it has adapted quite a bit from its original form in Uganda - to the way Daniel's mom makes it in Philly - to the way I make it in DC, which is kind of cool.
Spinach Peanut Sauce (to be served with rice and other dishes above)
2 cartons of frozen chopped spinach (comes in small boxes in frozen veggie aisle)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tomato, diced
generic peanut butter (smooth or crunchy - to your taste)
curry powder*/salt/pepper to taste
In medium saucepan, empty the two cartons of frozen spinach (in their square frozen solid form) and add about an inch or two of water. Heat on medium for 10-15 min until the spinach thaws out. Meanwhile, you can chop the onion, garlic and tomato. Once the spinach is almost entirely thawed out, you can add the onion and garlic. Cook another couple minutes, stirring. Add more water if you need to (though this is a thicker sauce, like a stew). Stir in a couple heaping spoonfuls (using wooden spoon) of peanut butter and the diced tomatoes. Season with curry/salt/pepper to taste - we like to go heavy on all these to add more of a kick to the sauce. Spoon over rice and enjoy.
*I like to use a good hot, or muchi, curry blend.