Friday, April 30, 2010

Maharagwe Ya Nasi - Beans in Coconut Sauce

Though I have harbored the desire to visit Africa for a long time, I know very little about this country, the people and especially the food. The only thing 'African' I own is a pair of handcrafted wooden soldiers from Dar es Salaam which were a gift from a friend's MIL. Few months back I bought this cookbook from a used book library at work, named 'YOU REALLY HAVEN'T BEEN THERE UNTIL YOU'VE EATEN THE FOOD' authored by Keith Famie. He is a television celebrity who has hosted a television series 'Keith Famie's Adventures' for the Food Network.

In this book, the author takes the readers on an adventure around the globe, exploring different cuisines and sampling the food and the culture from extraordinary places. I thought this book would probably make me more knowledgeable about various cuisines but it was neatly tucked away on one of our book shelves and I completely forgot about it. It is only when I read about the AWED- Africa event that I thought of checking out this book. Coincidently, Africa is the first place the author has covered in this book. It was interesting to see some similarities to Indian cuisine and a lot of Indian influence in some of the dishes. Maharagwe Ya Nasi, Sucuma Wiki (Spinach curry), Ugali (Polenta), Bollas (pumkin fritters), fried pawpaw (fried papayas) are some of the vegetarian dishes in this book.

Few days back, I made 'Maharagwe Ya Nasi' which is Swahili for beans in coconut sauce. This is a popular Kenyan dish. The use of coconut milk in this dish, reminds me of some bean curries from South India. I made some changes to the proportions in the recipe which are noted below. The dish turned out pretty good.

Ingredients -
1 pound kidney beans, soaked overnight in water
8 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
2 diced white onions
3 diced plum tomatoes
2 minced garlic cloves
1 cup coconut milk
salt and black pepper to taste

Method -
1. Drain the beans. In a medium stockpot, place the beans and water. Simmer over medium heatfor 1 to 11/2 hrs or until tender. Drain and return the beans to the stockpot
2. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Sweat the onions, tomatoes and garlic until tender.
3. Add the onions to the beans.
4. Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 5 minutes.
5. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

Changes I made -
Use the standard 14 oz can of kidney beans. Rinse the beans with water and let all the water drain. In a pan, saute 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 chopped medium onion in a tbsp of olive oil until soft. Then add 1 chopped tomato and cook for sometime. Now add the beans and 1/2 cup coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 5-10 mins.

This is my entry for DK's AWED- Africa event hosted by PJ for the month of April.
I'm also sending this to Meeta's Monthly Mingle - South Africa event.