Lamb Shoulder Mafé with Fonio

Chef Thiam’s lamb shoulder mafé recipe is thickened with peanut butter, a fool proof method to achieve the characteristic creaminess of this dish. Mafé is an iconic African ground nut stew, popular throughout West Africa, and made even more delicious with our grass-fed lamb shoulder chunks slowly simmered in peanut sauce: it’s the image of comfort food in Senegal.

Lamb Shoulder Mafé
Lamb Shoulder Mafé

Mafé originated with the Mandinka and Bambara people of Mali. The proper name for it in the Mandinka language is domodah or tigadegena. It spread across the region, particularly in Senegal and the Gambia, during the colonial period, when efforts were undertaken to increase production of groundnuts also called peanuts.

It is generally served with rice though in this recipe fonio is substituted. Fonio is a tiny, tender, highly nutritious ancient grain similar to quinoa.  The heat from the Scotch bonnet and brightness of the lemon zest brilliantly lifts all the earthy flavors of the peanut sauce.

This recipe is used with permission from Chef Pierre Thiam. Find more of his recipes in his book Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl and on his website.

Chef Pierre Thiam
Chef Pierre Thiam

Looking to buy lamb or goat online? Shepherd Song Farm: Grass to table. We raise lambs & goats traditionally, humanely and sustainably. 100% Grass Fed, Pasture Raised, Never Confined, no Hormones, Grains or Animal Byproducts. Born, raised and processed in the U.S.A. Good for you and good for the environment.

Sorting Groundnuts Kalana, Mali
Sorting Groundnuts Kalana, Mali

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Lamb shoulder mafe in a bowl being served with fonio.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Lamb Shoulder Mafe with Fonio

An African lamb shoulder dish from Chef Pierre Thiam
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: African
Keyword: Goat, Lamb, Mafe
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 490kcal
Cost: 30


  • 1 Dutch oven
  • 1 3 quart sauce pot for the fonio



  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 garlic cloves crushed
  • 2 tablespoons  tomato paste
  • 6 cups  chicken stock or water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme leaves removed and chopped
  • 1 cup unsweetened smooth peanut butter
  • 6 to 8 okra trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper left whole
  • 2 tablespoons  Vietnamese fish sauce optional
  • Cooked Fonio recipe follows

Parsley Topping

  • bunch parsley leaves finely chopped
  • scallions finely chopped
  • ½  of 1 Scotch bonnet pepper seeded and finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon finely grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 each shallots, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 cup fonio


Parsley Topping

  • Combine the parsley, scallions, Scotch bonnet and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and refrigerate until it’s time to serve

Lamb Shoulder

  • Cut lamb shoulder into approximate 1 inch chunks.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Season the lamb chunks with 1 tablespoon of salt, and brown in batches until all the meat is browned. Set aside the meat, and pour off excess fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pot.
  • Add onion, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook until it turns translucent. Reduce heat to low, then add garlic, and stir well. Cook for a minute or 2, until it is fragrant, then add tomato paste, and cook for 7 more minutes, until the paste is dark in color. If the mixture begins to brown too quickly, lower the heat, and add a splash of water to deglaze the pan.
  • Add stock to cover meat and bring to a simmer then add the Scotch bonnet, fish sauce, bay leaves, thyme and remaining salt. Slowly add the peanut butter 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring constantly to dissolve it in the liquid. Return the meat to the pot, Cover and cook for 2 hours on low heat or until the meat is very tender.
  • Add okra and cook another 10 minutes (optional).
  • Pile bowls with fonio, top with lamb and generously sprinkle over the parsley.


  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, and cook until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and carrot, and cook for 3 minutes more, until the garlic is fragrant. Add 1/4 cup water along with the peas, and cook covered, on low heat, until the carrot is tender, about 8 minutes, then turn off the heat, and set aside until you’re ready to eat.
  • In a pot with a tightly fitted lid, bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil, add the fonio, stir, cover and turn off the heat. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Fold fonio into the shallots and peas, season and taste.


Lamb shoulder is used here, but lamb neck could also be used. 


Serving: 5oz | Calories: 490kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 717mg | Potassium: 1156mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 390IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 5mg