How to make classic Ugandan bean stew with tips and tricks on how to achieve a balanced and rich stew all the time.
I have made so many recipes on this blog and sometimes looking back I become overwhelmed by the recipe index (which I need to update soon!). One thing I have realized is that it has been a while since I share a classic bean recipe and I have no reason at all. But thinking about it, it is probably because I have taken beans for granted. Because at this point I assume everyone knows how to make beans or has a family recipe they stick to. This thinking was challenged when a viewer on my YouTube Channel requested for a bean stew recipe and now here we are. You see beans play a huge role in our diet as a country and continent. It is one of the first things and easiest to learn how to make because beans are a staple in many households and schools! Now each person has a varied recipe for their beans and often times it changes based on what is available. Talk about cooking from scratch. Sometime they are tangy because maybe that day you will happen to have more tomatoes. Sometimes it is very garlicky because garlic is available while onions are not (true story). Sometimes neither onions nor tomatoes are available but people still need to eat. One thing with beans is that they are a life saver, not to mention a source of protein and the dry ones store well.
‘In the past before chemical preservatives, there were two categories of beans: Beans for food and beans for seed. Beans for food were, well, used for food and were mostly the lesser quality while beans for seed were the better quality since they were to be preserved for longer periods of time for future planting. One iconic method of preserving the seed was by wrapping them securely in dry banana leaves and nearly drowning them in ash. Ash acted as a preservative and prevented the weevils from eating and damaging the seed. Because beans are fairly easy to make and everyone is expected to know how to make them, there are small details that can take it from a bean stew to a great bean stew.
What you will need:
3 C. Beans, cooked and drained
3 Large tomatoes, chopped
2-3 C. Water
1 Medium-sized green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 Garlic clove, crushed and chopped
1/2 Tsp. Grated Ginger
1 Tbsp. Curry powder
1/2 Tsp. Cumin powder
1/2 Tsp. Coriander (cilantro) powder
1/2 Tsp. Black pepper
2 Tbsp. Cooking oil
- The number of tomatoes and onions you use will determine the outcome of your stew. It is advised to use at least 1 whole onion and and 2-3 tomatoes.
- Tomatoes, when cooked well, add an umami taste to the stew
- The key is to caramelize the onions and cook down the chopped tomatoes until they separate from the oil. If you are using tomato paste, the same technique applies.
- Add water depending on the consistency you are going for.
- The longer the stew simmers, the better the taste
- Place pan on medium heat. Add cooking oil and let it heat up.
- Add the garlic and onions into the hot oil (careful not to burn yourself) and stir well. Reduce the heat slightly so that they can cook till translucent.
- Add the chopped tomatoes. Let them cook till they are soft and tender and have separated from the oil
- Next add your green pepper, ginger, curry powder, cumin, coriander, black pepper and salt. Mix well.
- Add the beans to the tomatoes and mix well. Pour in about half a cup of water and mix well. Increase the fire and let the beans cook till that water is almost completely done.
- Add the remaining water into the beans and let them cook for 15 minutes on high heat. Reduce the hear after 15 minutes and let that the stew simmer until the water has reduced down into half and it has a creamy oily layer on top.
Serve with your favorite starch. I like to have my stew with chapati in form of kikomando.
I an working on a video that I will be sharing soon.
How do you cook your beans?
Share your creations using the #AkitchenInUg on social media
PS: Have you checked out this book Cool Beans?