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?
Sometimes love is not always, albeit great, chocolates, sweets and wine. Sometimes love is a warm bowl of your favorite soup, a plate of your favorite snack or the wafting aroma of the all too familiar foods you have come to develop an affection for.
Sometimes love is not a pristine bed of white sheets with crimson rose petals. Sometimes love is hurdling together in the familiar but worn couch that has seen your growth over the years and watching that film a millionth time.
Sometimes love is not eating out at that penthouse restaurant with its tres chic ambiance and view of the skyline. Sometimes love is seating on your balcony and having that warm bowl of your favorite soup, a plate of your favorite snack or the wafting aroma of the all too familiar foods you have come to develop an affection for.
Sometimes love is letting go of all socially imposed etiquette of how certain food should and shouldn’t be eaten and diving, hands bare into the most satisfying bowl of stewed fish with obundu/ akaalo/ posho [insert your favorite staple carbohydrates]
The poem above is an attempt at depicting what I felt while going through the motions of making and eventually devouring this fish stew because it hit all the right spots and brought about childhood nostalgia. Isn’t it amazing that food has the power to humble us, make us see the world differently and evoke certain emotions?! I find it intriguing. And so in this season of expressing our love to both ourselves and the people who mater to us, here is a stew that I trust will help in achieving that because it has home, comfort and warmth written all over it. Here is the process: First we marinate the fish in curry powder, black pepper, salt and some lemon juice then proceed to fry the fish to a golden brown crisp. After that we stew it in perfectly tender tomatoes with a hint of hotness by scotch bonnets (you can use either birds eye chili or akabanga) and served with your ideal mingled meal.
What you will need:
1 Large fish (tilapia, snapper), scaled, cut and thoroughly washed
8 Large tomatoes
1 Large onion, chopped
4 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 Tsp. Ginger, grated
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 Scotch bonnet
2 Tbsp. Turmeric powder
2 Tbsp. Cumin powder
2 Tsp. Coriander powder
2 Tsp. Ground bay leaves
1/2 Tsp. Ground cloves
1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
1 Tsp.Ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Oil for frying
1 cup corn flour/maize flour
- Since tomatoes are naturally sour, adding sugar neutralizes the sourness. You may need more than 1 table spoon of sugar to achieve your desired taste.
- Maize flour helps absorb the excess liquid released by the fish as it marinates and keeps the fish from sticking to the pan when frying. If you don’t have maize flour, you can use breadcrumbs instead
- Place the clean pieces of fish in a clean bowl. Add half of the turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, ground bay leaves, ground cloves, cinnamon, ground black pepper, a pinch of salt and juice of 1 lemon into the bowl with the fish.
- Mix well till all the pieces of fish are covered with the pieces. Set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
- In a separate pan, add enough cooking oil to immerse the fish. Place the pan on high fire and let the oil heat up.
- Place the maize flour on a flat plate and roll each individual piece of fish in it till well coated. Once the oil is hot, gently place the fish pieces into the oil and let them fry till golden brown and crispy.
- While the fish is frying, finely chop half of your tomatoes and set aside. Cut the other half of the tomatoes into chunks and along with the scotch bonnet and place them in a blender. Blend till pureed. If you don’t have a blender, you can make your tomato sauce a head of time using this method
- Once all the fish has been fried, set it a side. Add about a table spoon of oil in a separate pan and place the pan on medium fire.
- Add the garlic, onions, ginger and celery into the oil and let them cook till translucent. Make sure they don’t burn. Next add the finely chopped tomatoes and let them cook till tender.
- Pour your pureed tomatoes in the frying tomatoes and let them cook till they have reduced down to a thick paste and the oil has separated from it.
- Next add the remaining half of your spices (turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, ground bay leaves, ground cloves, cinnamon, ground black pepper and salt) and mix well. Add 2-3 cups of water and sugar and stir the stew well.
- Add the pieces of fried fish to the tomato stew and cover the pan. Let the stew boil for about 15 minutes. Reduce the fire and let the stew simmer till it has reduced, become thick and has oil floating on top.
- Serve hot!
What is love to you?
Share your creations using the #AkitchenInUg on social media