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.

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?

Herb and Cheese Rolls.

I am a big fan of savoury / seasoned breads. Such as these yummy cheese and herb rolls.

Don’t they look lovely?

I like using this recipe from half-baked harvest, though I usually make a few changes here and there.

These rolls are so soft, fluffy, buttery, well seasoned, herby, cheesy and great to have with some soup on the side or even on their own.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

1. 3-4 cups of all purpose flour.

2. 1 small packet of instant yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp).

3. 2 tbsp honey.

4. Small pinch of salt.

5. 1 cup of warm milk.

6. 2 tbsp of melted butter. Have some extra butter on hand to brush on the rolls once out of the oven.

7. 2 eggs.

For the herb and cheese filling our ingredients are:-

1. 2 tbsp chopped coriander.

2. 2-3 cups cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese (grated).

3. 1/2 cup of softened cream cheese.

4. 1 minced garlic clove.

5. Salt and freshly ground back pepper.

6. Mixed savoury spice seasoning.

This is the savory seasoning I used.

7. 2 heaped tsp mixed herbs (mine had thyme, oregano and basil).

8. 1 tbsp sesame seeds.

Let’s get started.

1. In a large bowl, add the flour, yeast, salt, and mix well. Add the sugar, milk, beaten eggs and butter. Mix with a wooden stick then once its kind of a shaggy dough, knead with your hands till it is soft and smooth.

2. Cover with a cloth and let rest for about one hour in a warm place, or till the dough is doubled in size. I usually keep mine in the oven with the light on.

3. For the filling, chop your coriander, which can be alternated with parsley too and set aside in a bowl. Add the grated cheddar and mozzarella, mixed herbs, salt and pepper, and the savoury spice and mix well.

4. In another small bowl, add the cream cheese, a little bit of salt and pepper and the minced garlic and mix well.

5. Get a baking tin and line it with parchment paper.

6. Once dough is ready, punch and knead a bit to deflate it. Roll it out to a rectangle shape, but not too thin.

7. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the dough generously, then sprinkle the cheddar and Herb mix.

8. Roll it tightly into a log shape, same way we do with cinammon rolls, then slice into 12 pieces.

This recipe makes 12 rolls.

9. Place the cut pieces in the baking dish, cover and let rest for half an hour.

10. Preheat oven.

11. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on the rolls and bake fo 25-30 minutes at 170°C. You can let them brown a bit and you will smell and see the cheese bubbling on top. They smell so good!

Love it when the cheese bubbles over. Yum!

12. Once out of the oven, brush generously with some melted butter and let rest for about 10 minutes.

13. Serve warm as a brunch side, or with soup on the side.

They are fluffy, soft, well seasoned and so tasty.

They bake so beautifully too. See how well browned the bottoms are. 😍

We have had them here on their own, with some roasted tomato soup and some pumpkin soup.

Had them with some pumpkin and bell pepper soup.
They go well with some roasted tomato soup too! The soup recipe is from here.

Definitely worth a try!

Pumpkin, Chana Dal and Ground Beef Curry.

A colourful, delicious, healthy and filling curry that is easy to make, and does not take too long either.

You will need:-

  • 1 cup already boiled chana dal.
  • About 300g of ground beef.
  • 3 tbsp of cooking oil.
  • I large chopped onion.
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds.
  • 1 heaped tsp smashed ginger, garlic and some turmeric.
  • About 2 cups chopped pumpkin cubes.
  • I small bunch of coriander, leaves and stems separated and chopped.
  • 1 green pepper, sliced.
  • I cup homemade tomato sauce. Can be alternated with 3 tomatoes, peeled and pureed.
  • 2 tsp curry powder.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
Look at those lovely colours.

To begin, heat your oil in a pan and the onion.

Once onion is soft and getting a bit browned, add your ginger, garlic turmeric paste and the roughly crushed coriander seeds.

The green pepper and coriander stalks will go in next. Then the curry powder. Mix in well and let cook a bit but make sure it doesn’t burn.

Followed in my the beef mince. Let the meat cook on high heat till it is no longer clumpy and has began to brown.

Once the meat is cooked down well and dried out, add the tomato sauce or tomatoes and a small pinch of sugar. Cover and let them cook down, before adding the already boiled chana dal.

Look at how colourful it is. If using tomatoes, you can add a cup of water so the curry does not become too dry. If using tomato sauce, add water if needed and remember to check and add your seasoning (salt) as you go.

Add the pumpkin last as it will not take too long to cook and you do not want it to turn mushy. You want the cubes cooked, soft but still firm. This should simmer for no more than ten minutes as the mince was already fully cooked before adding the lentils.

See how colourful it is!

Once done, add in the coriander leaves and switch off the cooker. The curry is pleasing in terms of how it looks, the aroma and how it tastes.

You can serve this with chapati or rice.

We had ours with plantain stuffed chapati whose recipe I have already shared here.

This is definitely worth a try.

Let me know how yours turns out!

Love,

Wanjoro.

Instant Pot Beef Stew.

I think I may have just found my best beef stew recipe yet!

It is aromatic, rich in colour and flavour, and the beef is so ‘melt in your mouth’ tender, the kids will enjoy it.

Also, it is fast to make as it’s made in the instant pot. Which I really need to make more use of other than for boiling maize and legumes.

You will need:

  • I kg stewing beef, cut in medium large chunks.
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 chopped onion.
  • About 1 heaped tbsp of crushed ginger garlic paste, mixed with some coriander seeds and some whole turmeric.
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise, yes, mayo. I used low fat gluten free option, but any can do.
  • I cup homemade roasted tomato sauce. 4 Chopped tomatoes will do too. Peeled and chopped.
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice blend. The one picture has cinnamon, cloves, pepper, cardamon and bay leaf.
  • Salt and pepper.

Method.

Crush the ginger, garlic, turmeric and coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle.

These are the only ground spices I used. The flavour is amazing in this dish!

(I am a firm believer that spices and herbs should not overtake any dish’s natural flavour. A little goes a long way in this meal. We are also lucky here that a lot of our livestock and poultry is still naturally reared which makes it more flavourful).

Rub the beef chunks with the mixed spice and mayo, as well as a teaspoon on the ginger garlic paste. You can let it marinate overnight if possible or at least half a day.

Switch on your instant pot and select sautè function.

Add the oil, then the onion, followed by the remaining ginger garlic paste. Let cook without it burning then add the tomato sauce and the meat. Cover.

Select meat function on the instant pot.

Mine cooked for thirty minutes at normal pressure. Let it release pressure naturally for about ten minutes then do a quick pressure release carefully.

Check seasoning and adjust accordingly.

This is what it looks like without further simmering.

You can have it this way, just remember to garnish with some coriander leaves.

If you however want to thicken the sauce and deepen the brown colour further, select the sauté function again and let it cook for about 8 minutes, keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

The sauce will thicken further and the brown colour will deepen.

This meal is so good. Once served, you may think it was made for hours.

Serve it with a side of your choice. We had ours with celery rice. I have already shared the recipe for that here.