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.

Tasty Green Capsicum Rice.

This is another one of my favourite way to jazz up some plain old rice. It is great on its own as a packed lunch with a simple salad, or as a side dish for a main meal.

Green pepper is a bit bitter than other coloured bell peppers but that doesn’t not undermine its health benefits. It is rich in antioxidants that can improve eye health, is high in iron, vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron, and is also a great source of vitamins B6, E, K and A, folates and potassium. I use it in many dishes and even add it to salads as I like the crunchy and tangy taste when I bite into it raw.

This recipe is simple and tasty.

All you need is one cup basmati rice, 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped green bell peppers, a pinch of spices of choice, ( I used a tsp of whole cumin seeds and a teaspoon of ground pilau masala, 1 tablespoon cooking oil, salt and pepper and a fresh squeeze of half a lemon to please your tastebuds.

Heat your pan, and add the oil. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and once they sizzle, add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt.

Once onion is soft and a beginning to brown a bit, add the pilau masala and mix well, some salt and pepper and be careful it doesn’t burn, then add the chopped capsicum. Stir it and let it be coated with the masala mix.

Add your rice and two cups of water.

Cover and let it simmer on low heat till the rice is ready. Squeeze some lemon before fluffing the rice a bit then serve with some kachumbari.

It is great on its own with a simple salad, when you want a light meal.
I had mine with a tangy avocado, tomato and onion salad.

Easy and tasty!

Easy Charred Eggplant and Peas.

Here is another delicious eggplant recipe that will have you wanting more of this amazing vegetable. It is spicy, has some heat, is filling, tasty, and colourful. The wonderful aromas and flavours are heightened with the addition of some coconut milk which adds to the richness and complexity of flavour to the dish.

All you need are two eggplants, sliced onion, garlic ginger paste, one sliced tomato, one cup of peas and one chopped potato. Spices used are mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dhana jeera powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and garam masala. Other ingredients are coconut oil, tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste and one cup of coconut milk.

First, chop your eggplant into thickish pieces and pan fry for about 12 minutes, 6 on each side until browned and a bit charred, set aside.

Heat your saucepan, add one tablespoon of coconut oil and a teaspoon of the black mustard seeds and whole cumin seeds, once they start sputtering, add your sliced onion. Mix well and let cook till onions begin browning at the edges then add your one teaspoon of crushed ginger and garlic.

Once the ginger garlic is cooked a bit, add one tbsp of the dhana jeera powder, a pinch of chilli powder, 1/4 tsps of the ground turmeric and one tbsp of tomato paste. Let cook and keep stirring so it doesn’t burn, then add your sliced tomato.

Reduce heat and cover to let the tomatoes cook down. Once they are softened completely, add the potatoes and a cup of water. Cover and let simmer for a while till the potatoes are almost soft, then add your peas.

Let the peas cook a bit and mix well into the sauce, then add your eggplant and coconut milk. Cover once again and simmer for ten minutes on very low heat.

As it simmers, the flavours and colours will meld together into a beautiful sauce that will have an inviting aroma too.

Garnish with chopped dhania when ready, then serve with your main of choice.

The curry looks and smells amazing. The eggplant holds its shape well and is full of all the lovely spicy flavours with a hint of smokiness from the charred parts. Delish!

I had mine with some soft and flaky pumpkin chapati.
It also goes well with some basmati rice.

If you are looking for simple and delicious way to have your eggplant, this dish is a great option. Be it #meatlessmonday or #eggplantthursday, it ticks all the boxes for a colourful, decadent and tasty vegetarian curry.

Tasty Stewed Lentils.

I know I am not the only one who craves a warming, filling and hearty stew on rainy days.

This recipe is tasty, easy to make, will fill you up well on a chilly day and keep well in the fridge, in case there are leftovers.

I love this vegetable stew as it enhances the authentic flavour of the vegetables used, and is full of nutrients too. Let’s get started.

Ingredients are:-

  • 1 1/2 cups small brown lentils (masoor dal)
  • 1 chopped onion.
  • 1 bay leaf.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped.
  • 1 medium courgette and 1 medium eggplant, chopped and kept aside in salted water.
  • 1 large chopped tomato.
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped.
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped.
  • Mixed herbs (thyme and basil).
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
Heat your pan, and add the oil. Add the bay leaf, then onion and fry till translucent then add your chopped garlic.
Add the carrot, mixed well then add your tomatoes and let cook a while.
Drain and rinse then add the eggplant and courgette, let cook a while before adding the potato.
Once the potatoes are cooked a bit, add the herbs, lentils and 3 cups of water as well as your salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked.
This is a hearty stew that will satisfy your comfort food cravings.
The best accompaniment to this is some crusty bread from Brood.

You can even have it on its own or with some dinner rolls. The kids like it with chapati and rice. Leftovers are great for their lunchboxes too.

Note: Soaking the eggplant in salted water removes the bitter taste and also reduces the water in the veggies, hence they are able to hold their shape well, and enhance their natural flavour.

This is a tasty one pot dish full of flavourful vegetables and nutrients that will please the eyes and palate, it is definitely worth a try and easy to make too.

Delicious Chickpea, Eggplant and Butternut Recipe.

Yep. Another kala chana recipe.

Simple, healthy, tasty, filling and colourful. This delightful meal ticks all those boxes and is one of my faves to make too.

Ingredients are two cups of peeled and chopped butternut, 2 cups kala chana, one eggplant, two tomatoes, I small bunch of coriander,1 tablespoon ghee, 1 tablespoon of ginger garlic paste, salt and pepper. For the spices, the whole spices are a teaspoon each of black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds and fennel seeds. The ground spices are a teaspoon each of garam masala, ground Dhania jeera and 1/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric.

Boil the chickpeas till ready and set aside.

Heat your pan, add the ghee and toast the whole spices a bit.

Add your onion and cook till soft, then add the ginger garlic paste then the eggplants.

Mix well. Add the coriander stalks too and set the leaves aside for garnish later.
Add the ground spices, mix well then add the chopped tomato and some salt. Cover and let simmer till tomatoes are soft.
Add the chick pea and let it cook a while to absorb the flavours…
…then add the chopped butternut.
Add a bit of water, not too much though and check on seasoning. Cover and simmer till butternut is cooked through.
Garnish with the coriander leaves once ready.
I added some fresh chillies on mine.

It is not too spicy but very flavourful. You can cook earlier and let rest so the flavours can deepen further before serving.

It goes well with minty flatbread that is very easy to make. 1 1/2 cups of self raising flour, I cup of natural yoghurt, a pinch of salt, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp dried mint. Knead well till soft and smooth, and cook on a griddle pan. Serve hot.
Colourful, healthy, tasty and filling. Right up my alley.

I added some fresh chilli on top too but this is optional. This is an amazingly flavour filled vegetarian meal to add to your normal meal plan. It will leave you satisfied, is good to look at, easy to make, nutritious and tasty too.

Definitely worth a try.