One of the joys of living and cooking in a different country or region is learning about and incorporating different ingredients and styles of cooking into your meals. While there are certainly ingredients I’m used to having that I don’t have ready access to, there are many others that I am discovering.
One of these ingredients is dried corn or maize. It is a staple in many parts of the world. Here in east Africa, it is often ground and made into a stiff porridge called ugali. It is eaten with the hands and is dipped in a sauce or sautéed vegetables.
Another dish that is popular in many regions of Africa is combining maize with beans. Both are soaked overnight and then cooked until soft. The spices can be simple or more complex. In Tanzania this dish is called Makande, in Kenya it’s Githeri. There is a wide variety in the basic recipe. Some versions have very simple seasonings, others are more complex. Some versions add potatoes or other vegetables.
Here are two versions of Makande I created. One is simple yet flavorful. The other kicks it up a notch with ginger, cumin, cardamom and some tasty coconut cream.
- 1 ½ cup dried kidney beans
- 1 ½ cup dried corn (maize) substitute with 2 ½ cups frozen or fresh corn if you don’t have dried.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 1 ½ tsp tumeric
- 1 hot chili pepper, chopped fine
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp cardamom
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- Soak the dried beans and maize in water over night or for at least 5 hours.
- Drain and rinse
- Put beans and maize in a large heavy bottom pot and cover with water.
- Add the chopped vegetables
- Add the spices and remaining ingredients (except the salt)
- Simmer over low to medium heat until beans and maize are soft
- Add salt to taste
- Serve with rice
Here is the spiced up version and the leftovers we had the next night. I combined the leftovers with the remaining rice added some chopped greens and a bit of water:
There are endless ways to cook beans. Give these a try and then add your own special twist. I’d love to here about what you create. Come share your recipe and a photo over on our Facebook page.