Tasty Njahi Balls.

Njahî, also known as hyacinth beans or dolichos beans are a staple where I come from (Central Kenya). They are quite nutrient dense, rich in iron and other minerals that make it a beloved food in my culture; especially for breastfeeding mums as they are believed to encourage lactation.

They are usually soaked, boiled then mashed with steamed green bananas, both unripe and ripe. Very sweet when had with stew and vegetables on the side. One can also have them stewed. I like them with lots of grated carrots or curried with some coconut cream. Very delicious and filling.

These beans are not easily available in Uganda, but my MIL (Bless her), ensured I had enough stock when we came back after visiting home. So look out for some more njahi recipes coming soon.

Let us start with these veggie balls using this bean. It is easy to make, uses what you have on hand, and so delicious. Perfect for lunch, dinner or the kids’ snack boxes.

So yummy!

We had them on simple wraps with a garlic yoghurt sauce, and some vegetable accompaniments.

Ingredients for the veggie balls are:-

  1. About 3 cups njahi, already boiled and roughly mashed.
  2. 1 1/2 cup of minced vegetables. ( I used onion, garlic, bell peppers(green, red and yellow), coriander and mint).
  3. Spices used: 1 tsp garam masala, I tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp turmeric, I tbsp toasted cumin seeds.
  4. Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  5. 2 tbsp breadcrumbs.
  6. 2 tbsp grated cheddar cheese (optional).
  7. 1 tbsp vegetable oil.
You can use a food processor or chopper to mince the veggie filling.

Method.

These type of beans take long to cook, an average of 3 hours on the stovetop. So I soaked then cooked them on the instant pot to cut on cooking time. (Bean function in high pressure- 30 minutes, then let them release pressure naturally).

They hold their shape well after boiling.
Spices used are paprika, garam masala, herb salt, turmeric and some breadcrumbs.

Once the beans are ready, drain, let cool then roughly mash. Add in the minced veggies, spices, herbal salt and bread crumbs. Last goes in the cheese and form into balls.

Put them in a lined baking sheet, spray with the oil and bake at 180°C for about 20 minutes.

Ready for the oven.

As the beans cook you can get started on the accompaniments. The whole wheat wraps are quite easy to make. 2 cups atta flour, I cup water, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp mixed herbs, salt and pepper. Knead well into a soft dough. Cover and let rest for about 20 minutes, then roll out and cook on a dry pan with no added oil.

Roll out onto hot pan, once bubbles form, flip and let the other side cook till it gets a few pale spots.

Keep the flatbread covered with a clean cotton cloth so they do not dry out.

As for the garlic yoghurt sauce, I used one cup unflavoured yoghurt, 2 heaped tbsp mayonnaise, 1 tsp paprika, one minced garlic clove, freshly ground pepper and freshly squeezed juice from half a lemon.

Mix all well and let chill for flavours to blend well.

The vegetable accompaniments were a simple kachumbari and a simple shredded cabbage and carrot salad seasoned with salt, lemon and black pepper.

The cabbage salad has shredded cabbage, grated carrot, grated courgette seasoned with herb salt, freshly cracked black pepper and lemon juice.
The kachumbari was finely chopped onion, coriander and tomato with salt, pepper and lemon too.

Once everything is ready, you can assemble and serve. You can opt to have the balls on a bed of the cabbage salad then topped with the salsa / kachumbari and yoghurt sauce,

or on the wrap as shown below.

Either way, they are delicious and filling. The balls hold their shape well after baking and a bit crispy on the outside but soft and moist on the inside. The seasoning is everything in this dish. The minced veggies go well together with the spices used and also add colour, moisture and nutrients to the dish.

How would you like to have yours, in a wrap or just plain with the salad?

The sauce is amazing too!

I like veggie balls as they are great way to ensure you load up on your veggies in a fun and tasty way. It is all about getting creative. I have already shared how I made lentil balls in peanut sauce here, and also here on couscous with a creamy cashew sauce. Try them all and let me know what you think.

Love,

Wanjoro.

Berry Good Banana Bread.

We love our banana bread in this house, as it is, with chocolate, with yoghurt, with nuts and now with berries.

The best thing about this cake is it works well with whichever berries you have on hand. I have made it with blueberries, strawberries and raspberries and it always turns out great. I have also made with with sugar, and honey and it turned out well too.

Banana strawberry goodness!

This is a perfect treat for breakfast, tea time, school snack, dessert and even as a gift for a loved who loves banana bread.

Let us get started.

Ingredients are:-

1. 2 1/2 cups self raising flour. (If using All purpose flour, remember to add 11/4 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp baking soda, plus a small pinch of salt).

2. 1 level tsp ground cinnamon.

3. 1 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional).

4. 1 1/2 cup sugar or sweet honey.

5. 4 large mashed really ripe bananas.

6. 1 cup frozen strawberries or raspberries. (I usually let them thaw a bit and mash roughly).

7. 1/3 cup coconut oil (or vegetable oil).

8. 2 large eggs.

9. 1 tsp vanilla.

10. 1 cup strawberry or mixed berry yoghurt.

Method.

1. Preheat oven to 180 °C and grease your baking tin really well.

3. Sift your flour and cinnamon in a large bowl, add the coconut and mix well.

4. In another bowl, mix the oil, sugar and eggs till well combined, then add the mashed banana and berries, followed by the vanilla.

5. Add dry ingredients to the wet as well as the yoghurt. Be careful not to overmix.

6. Add the batter to the pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hr, till cake is ready and a skewer comes out clean. I usually lower the temperature to about 160 after twenty minutes, and it takes about the same time to bake.

7. Let cake rest in pan for ten minutes then flip it carefully onto a rack and let cool completely in an airy area.

Baking times may vary as ovens are different so start checking at about the 50 minutes mark.

Looks so good!

Cut a slice and enjoy it!

Tip: I love making it in my bundt pan, but it works well in any large baking tin.

Baked this one with honey, it’s just a bit darker but tastes just as delicious as the one made with sugar.

It looks, smells and tastes so good. It is moist and crumbs beautifully too. Definitely worth a try don’t you think?

A Simple Bean Stew.

This is one of my favorite ways to have beans. If you can make this ahead of time, and let it sit a bit for the flavours to settle in well is even better.

It goes well with any flatbread, rice or savoury crepes.

You can also make it spicy and add chillies or cayenne if that’s your thing.

To make this delicious meal we will need:-

  1. 2 tbsp coconut oil. Your preferred oil will do too.
  2. 2 -3 cups already boiled red beans.
  3. 1 chopped onion.
  4. 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste.
  5. 4 tomatoes, blanched, peeled and pureed.
  6. 1 large carrot, grated.
  7. 1 bunch of coriander, stems and leaves separated.
  8. 1 chopped green bell pepper.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Spices- 1 tsp each paprika, curry powder, dhana jeera powder.
  11. 1 tsp mixed dried herbs.
  12. A small pinch of sugar (optional).
  13. 3 cups of water / vegetable stock.

The ingredients are simple, but healthy, flavourful and come together in a beautiful sauce that is finger licking good.

As usual, heat your sauce pan, add 2 tbsp of coconut oil. Add the onion and cook till soft.

Add the green pepper, coriander stems and ginger garlic paste. Add the spices and let them release their aroma and flavour, make sure they do not burn. You can add a tbsp of water as the spices cook.

Add the tomatoes and let them cook down till mushy. Salt and pepper can be added here too.
Add your carrots and broth. Cover and let them cook on medium low for about twenty – thirty minutes. The sauce will reduce and thicken. Do not rush the process. The beans will soften, absorb all the flavour and be a lovely colour too.

Once ready, add the chopped coriander leaves and let sit a while before serving.

This is a perfect make ahead dish as the longer it sits, the more time the flavours have to mix together well. So if you are into batch cooking, this simple bean stew is a great dish to make.

The beans slap really well on their own or with some rice too, and an avocado slice on the side. Mmmhhh. Yum!
Chapati Madondo aka Beans and Chapati are a perfect comfort food.

How do you like your beans?

One Bowl Banana Muffins.

These muffins are so sweet and fluffy. Perfect for tea time, snack time and the kid’s lunchboxes.

They do not take too much time to make, use what you have on hand and only one bowl from beginning to end. What’s not to to love about them.

Below is the recipe card.

Makes 12 muffins.

They rise so beautifully!

Try them and enjoy!

Love,

Wanjoro.

Baked Rice Balls.

Rice balls are a fave way to use up leftover rice in our house, and they make a perfect snack for the kids’ lunchboxes too.

Lunch box ready with tuna and cheese rice balls with a salad on the side.

Add in finely chopped vegetables, spices, herbs and cheese, they are quite versatile in terms of how you can flavour them up.

I like using short grained rice for the rice balls. It sticks together better than my beloved basmati, and the brand I use has a lovely aroma too. (I use Numa, which is a local Ugandan brand). I also prefer baking them rather than frying as its less to clean up and healthier too.

For the ingredients, I usually use:-

1. 2 cups of already cooked and chilled short grain rice.

2. 1 tsp dried mixed herbs.

3. 1/4tsp ground tumeric

4. 1 tsp paprika

5. Salt and pepper to taste.

6. 1 cup grated cheese (Cheddar, mozzarella or a mix of both).

7. 1 tbsp mayonnaise.

8. 1 egg.

9. 2 tbsp breadcrumbs.

10. 1/2 cup of drained and shredded tuna, or chopped sandwich ham or chicken.

11. 1/2 cup mixed finely chopped veggies. ( I like adding onion, garlic, and bell peppers)

(Tip: if you opt to fry the balls instead of baking, you can roll them in some all purpose / besan flour/ rice flour then fry to get a crispy layer on top).

See the crispy cheese crust?

Method.

The rice balls are so easy to make.

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.

2. Line a baking tray with some baking paper.

3. In a large bowl, combine all your preferred ingredients well. Roll them into balls and place them on the baking tray. I usually get about 18- 20 balls at a go.

These batch contained cheddar cheese with finely chopped vegetables, ready for the oven.

4. Spray lightly with some olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Serve them with a salad of choice and ketchup. They are so yummy.

My daughter loves hers with ketchup.

Easy to make, colourful, healthy, fuss free, filling and so tasty.

Definitely worth a try!