Stewed Mung beans with Eggplant.

Mung bean, green gram, moong, pojo or as we call it in Swahili, ‘Ndengu’, is a legume that is rich in nutrients, easy to cook and versatile as it blends in well with many flavour bases. In an onion, tomato gravy, sautéed with greens, in coconut milk, as a filling for savory pancakes or vegetarian samosas, it holds its own quite well. They are mostly sold as dry cereals, but one can sprout them too for added health benefits.

I like it uncomplicated, just simmered in an onion, tomato sauce with a bit of curry powder; I will definitely have a second helping. Ndengu also goes well with starchy sides such as chapati, rice and even ugali.

This time round I opted to add in roasted then mashed eggplant, it thickens the sauce and also adds a hint of smokiness in the dish.

Our ingredients are:-

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2-3 cups of already boiled legumes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tomatoes and 1 green pepper (capsicum) grated
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp dhania jeera powder
  • 1 heaped tsp Kenyan curry powder
  • 1 large eggplant, roasted over open flame then mashed. You can also broil it for 20-30 minutes in the oven then peel and mash.
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 cups water or stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric, or if you have whole, cut a small piece and crush with the ginger and garlic.

Method.

Heat your pan, add oil and the cumin seeds, once they release their aroma and begin sizzling in the oil, add your finely chopped onion. Mix well and let cook till it is soft and translucent.

Add the crushed ginger, garlic and turmeric paste and let cook off the raw smell, before adding in the spices.

Lower the heat and let the ground spices cook well for them to release their oil, aroma and flavour. You can add a tablespoon of water so they do not burn, then add the tomato paste.

This will be followed by your grated tomato and capsicum mix.

Cover and let them cook down till it’s a bit dry and the oil starts leaving the sides of the pan.

Add in your mashed eggplant and some seasoning.

Once the eggplant in mixed in well, add the boiled ndengu / mung beans. Mix well before adding in the water or stock.

Simmer for 20-25 minutes on low till the stew is well flavoured, thick and cooked well enough.

Check your seasoning, garnish then serve.

I used the green part of some leftover spring onion to garnish.

A bowl of this is quite filling for a light lunch, for a heartier meal, you can have it with rice, ugali or chapati on the side.

We had it with some soft and delicious carrot and spring onion chapati.

Colourful, healthy, filling, easy to make and oh so tasty! Give it a try and let me know how you liked it.

Love,

Wanjoro.

A Good House.

What makes a good house?

Would you prefer to build your own or buy a complete unit?

Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

There are many properties in Kenya for sale at the moment, and options to suit different clients. From luxury apartments to beachside villas, sprawling bungalows to basic housing; there is almost something for everyone.

However that does not mean it is a straightforward process. There are other factors to take into consideration. From the cost of the unit, financing options, proximity to social amenities, types of finishing, and many more.

There are a myriad of YouTube videos showing these properties and let me tell you guys, I am calling out lies on some of them.

First of all, the words “luxury” and “executive” are so overused folks, it’s appalling.

Basic amenities, such as a good parking spot, a paved driveway are the ones being touted as luxury. Nope, noppity nope. The lies have to stop.

A good property; a basic habitable unit, in my opinion should have some things done as a basic, not as an incentive. Is it too much to ask for non- skid flooring in wet areas such as the bathroom, laundry area and kitchen? Large windows to bring in natural lighting and great air flow. A garden with trees and some nice grass, a paved driveway? A covered parking area?

Recent housing developments do not value free unstructured spaces our children can play in, building on them instead. They have small gravelled areas with hard plastic slides and a couple of swings and call it the kids play area.

While I do understand that it is not possible for many to build their own homes, but when buying a property, let us be a bit more keen in how habitable it is. There are things that come up once you move in, but there are also a few things one should take note of when considering to buy a property. In addition to the due diligence on the legal paperwork, also check and ask around how the security is around that location.

There are many beautifully constructed housing developments popping up all over the place. That bungalow or villa you’re about to pay for, may not be as damp proof as they claim. Look at the corners, sniff the air in that house in all the rooms and cupboards.

Check for loose fittings and signs of mould inside and outside. Are the tiles, inside flooring or outside paving blocks warping or loose? Visit with a qualified person not connected to the project and let them give their opinion. We are paying too much money for real estate, it will not hurt to take your time checking them out thoroughly.

I saw a recent YouTube video of someone house hunting and there was one unit that had obvious water damage and no proper drainage in some areas, (can you imagine a flooded balcony?). When buying land or a house in certain areas, it is good to check out the geographical history of the place. If you can, visit during both the rainy and dry seasons to see the difference. Some properties being sold are located on dried up waterways. With recent climatic changes, flooding is on the increase worldwide; that river that dried up fifty years ago will find its way back and carry whatever is built in its path with it. Some unscrupulous people are filling up old stone quarries, and selling off the land as quick as they can. Due diligence is important and quite wide.

Beach or waterfront properties are beautiful with breathtaking views, and an amazing breeze.

Photo by Muffin Creatives on Pexels.com

How well shielded is that property from strong gusts of wind, underground dampness and are there screen doors to avoid bugs? I remember reading of a certain luxury property in the region that was bought up fast but the owners are now in tears. The fitted appliances do not work, the smart home system is ever glitchy and to top it off, some of the houses have had their balconies develop cracks. Scary!

Not all developers are unscrupulous, but well done houses with good quality fixtures and thoughtful finishing are not that common. It has become a preferred option by some to buy off plan or semi finished units, instead of a complete house that one will spend a lot of money repairing and refurbishing to one’s personal taste.

Location is another headache. Imagine buying a lovely apartment with a winding balcony only for a taller, sprawling high-rise to come up right next door! You now have a view of stone walls and the natural lighting in your apartment is dimmed. Or you buy a stand alone house in a quiet neighbourhood only for a religious institution or school to come up next door. There are some developments that have rules guiding what and how one can construct in that locality, which is good in such instances.

Photo by Expect Best on Pexels.com

Getting a good property that one can enjoy is not impossible, but will require a lot of commitment and resources. Time, patience, finances and an eye to detail helps. And don’t forget your gut instinct too; How you feel about the place.

What is a good house to you?

Sautéed Sukuma Wiki with Bacon.

Sukuma wiki aka collard greens are quite popular in East Africa. It is mostly had with ugali (steamed cornmeal) and fried with onions, tomatoes and spices of choice. It is also a great side dish for meat dishes.

As it is easily available and cheap, it can get boring fast, so one has to look for ways to spice it up. Like we did here with bacon.

You can also mix it up with Swiss chard, cowpea leaves or amaranth greens.

This is quick side dish that is easy to make and so delicious. If one can get younger, tender sukuma greens it is even better as they cook fast and are tastier than the big leafed mature ones.

For this recipe we will need:-

  • 3-4 strips of bacon. I used collar bacon, it is very flavourful, not too fatty and does not dry out when cooked. Making it perfect for this dish.
  • 1 chopped onion.
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped.
  • 1 large tomato and 1 green bell pepper (grated).
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil.
  • A small pinch of sugar (optional).
  • 1/2 tsp paprika.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 bunch of tender sukuma wiki (collard greens).
  • Freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon.

Let’s get started.

Chop your bacon up and add to a heated pan for it to render its fat.

It is not very fatty and doesn’t get too crispy. Cook for about 4-6 minutes on medium heat then set aside.

Add oil to the same pan, followed by the onion and garlic.

Once softened, add the grated tomato and bell pepper mix, as well as the paprika, and sugar, if using. Cover and let cook down till its a thick sauce.

Do not forget your seasoning.

Once tomatoes have cooked down, add the greens and increase heat. Let them cook for about 8 minutes till tender. They will shrink down fast, so keep that in mind when seasoning.

Once greens are cooked, add in the bacon you had set aside and mix it in well.

Last goes the squeeze of lemon and turn off the heat.

Let it rest a short while before serving, so the flavours can meld in well.

(You can add in cayenne or hot pepper if no kids will eat it).

This is a great side dish for ugali, mashed potatoes or chapati.

We had ours with these green banana cutlets whose recipe I shared last week here.

It is tasty, easy to make, colourful and smells so good!

Please try it and let me know how it turned out.

Love,

Wanjoro.

Recipe coming soon… Savory crepes.

Soy Bean Coconut Curry.

This recipe is an awesome meatless meal that can be adapted to any other kind of beans too. It was my first time to make soy beans.

I had bought these beans thinking they were the usual kidney ones, but once I opened the pack, I had to google what type they were.

In terms of taste they are not bad; They have an earthier taste than kidney beans, and seem not to absorb the curry flavours as well as other beans. The kids loved them though; so I guess they are not that bad.

Ingredients are 1 blended onion, ginger garlic paste, 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 tsp each cumin seeds, curry powder and garam masala, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 can of coconut milk, chopped coriander, 2 cups already boiled soy beans, salt and pepper to taste and cooking oil. I used 1 tbsp of coconut oil.
Heat you oil and add the cumin seeds, followed by the onion. And the ginger garlic paste. Mix well and cook till they stop smelling raw.
Add the ground spices and lower heat to let the spices cook through well without burning. The oils and flavours release are what make this curry taste so good.
Next goes in tomato paste, still on low heat to avoid burning. It will have lovely colour and aroma. Do not forget your seasoning.
You can add a splash of water to avoid burning. Next go in the beans, mix well and check seasoning.
Let the beans cook in the spice mixture a while to get the flavours…
…then add your coconut milk. You can add a pinch of sugar too.
Let the beans simmer in the sauce on low for 20-25 minutes. Garnish before serving.

You can serve immediately, but I like making my curries and stews a bit ahead, then let them sit a while for the flavours to absorb well in the pot.

The result is a creamy coconut curry that’s tasty, colourful, aromatic and not hard to make.

I had mine with rice, the kids with chapati. It goes well with both.

Definitely worth a try.