Simple Irio Recipe.

Irio is a staple in my motherland, and is more or less the same as mukimo, which I have shared here and here. Irio means food in my mother tongue, and is used to refer to the mashed mix of maize, beans, potatoes and fig gourd leaves, which we call ‘kahūrūra. This is not to be confused with pumpkin leaves, though they are very similar. However you can replace them with pumpkin leaves if you can’t get the fig gourd leaves and they will work just as well.

This is a nutritious and filling meal to make, and you can have it on its own, or with an accompaniment of your choice. I like traditional food because you get to taste the authentic flavour of the different ingredients and benefit from the nutrients and it tastes just as our forefathers or rather mothers made it.

Ingredients: 1 kg or so of peeled Irish potatoes, already boiled maize and beans, blanched pumpkin leaves. For the accompaniment i made stir fried veggies (onions, capsicum and courgette)
Peel, clean and boil your potatoes in salted water. A dash of pepper is ok too.
Once the potatoes are almost cooked down, you can drain the water and add the beans and maize so they heat through.
Add your blanched and blended pumpkin leaves, check seasoning and mash away…
….till you get this smooth mash. You can use a potato masher or a wooden cooking stick to mash them up.
I had some leftover fried onions (birista), so I crushed them and mixed them in the irio adding a lovely flavour.
Look at that lovely green colour! I really love colourful food especially when the colour comes from natural ingredients that offer added nutrients too.
Final plate: Irio and stir fried vegetables for the win! Yummy.

For the stir fried vegetables, I first caramelized the onions low and slow till they released their sugars, then increased heat and added the veggies to just let them cook a bit, before adding a splash of balsamic vinegar, then garnished with sesame seeds. Yum!!!

This is such a great veggie full meal that’s also perfect for #meatlessmondays too don’t you think?

Tasty Githeri.

Gītheri is one dish that is synonymous with where I come from, and a trademark of Kenyan cuisine. It is also found in other communities by different names, and with some slight differences. Whereas we Central Kenya folks make it with maize and beans most of the time, some communities add groundnuts to the mix, or just have maize and another cereal or legume such as peas, pigeon peas and hyacinth bean which we call ‘njahī’ in my mothertongue.

I have already shared another githeri recipe here using fresh green peas but here I will share with butterbeans, with a tasty twist. Let’s get started:-

Ingredients: Already boiled butterbeans and green maize, 1 tsp mustard seeds, some curry leaves, 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste, 1 large chopped onion, 2 chopped tomatoes, 1 chopped green pepper, chopped carrot and courgette and coriander leaves to garnish.
Heat your pan and add one tbsp vegetable oil, once the oil is really hot. Add the black mustard seeds and curry leaves, they will sputter immediately then add the onions before they burn, mix well.
Once your onions have softened, add the coriander stalks, green pepper and ginger garlic paste, mix well and cook for a whole then add your spices of choice here; I just added some Kenyan curry powder.
Add the chopped vegetables, and let cook a bit. Then add the beans and maize.
Add some salt and pepper, and a little water if too dry, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the flavours are blended well.
When ready, garnish with your coriander leaves and serve hot.
Avocado goes perfectly well with gītheri, so add some chunky guacamole and chilli on top, then enjoy!

Gītheri actually means ‘plain’ as it was usually eaten as is with just some salt. And it is tasty that way, fresh off the pot when boiled together then drained and served hot sprinkled with salt is one way. You can also mash it with potatoes and it becomes ‘mūkimo’ which I have already shared here, or fry it with some onions and spices and array of vegetables for a different taste like in this post.

That is the beauty of cooking, using what you have on hand to experiment with a different way of eating your food, isn’t it?

Mūkimo ya Minji and Stir Fried Vegetables.

This is another mashed dish also known as ‘Irio’ in my mother tongue. ‘Minji’ is what we call green peas. Mūkimo is a central Kenyan traditional dish that’s a mash of boiled potatoes, pumpkin leaves, maize, and either beans or peas. It is a delicious, filling and comforting meal that just reminds me of my childhood. I have tried to be as authentic as possible making it; hope I make my Mother proud.

Let’s get started.

For the mūkimo, our ingredients are one cup each of boiled maize, green peas (or boiled beans), potatoes and some pumpkin leaves. For the vegetables, half a red cabbage, one capsicum each, green, red and yellow, one small courgette, one onion, one carrot sliced.

Peel and clean your potatoes. Set aside. Now prepare the pumpkin leaves by removing the stalks and ‘webbing’ on the leaves. Clean them well, chop roughly and boil for 5 -7minutes. Drain and set aside.

You can blend or use a food processor to puree the pumpkin leaves if you want.

Boil potatoes in salted water till tender.
When the potatoes are fully cooked, drain and add your pumpkin leaves and already boiled maize and peas.

Now mash them all together until it’s a soft mash.

You can add some fried red or spring onions for added flavor.

Cover the mash and keep hot as you sauté your vegetable accompaniments.

Vegetables used were onion, red, yellow and green capsicum, red cabbage, carrot and courgette. Slice them as per your preference.
I added some bacon to the veggies for some extra flavor.
Heat a pan. Add the bacon and let it render its fat.
Drain the grease till you have a little oil left. You can use the drained bacon grease to fry the onions for the mash. Yum!

Increase the heat and add all the veggies. Mix well.

Let them cook on high heat till they soften a bit but don’t overcook. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and switch off the heat.

The best thing about this dish is you can have it with any accompaniment you choose. It kicks well with a nice beef stew, chicken stew or stir fried vegetables if you don’t want any meat.

It’s also quite healthy. Pumpkin leaves are very nutritious; they are rich in essential vitamins, iron and fiber. Just don’t over cook them. The sautéed vegetables are all rich in antioxidants and vitamins too. This is a great vegetarian meal too when you omit the bacon.

What’s not to love about colourful food?

Mūkimo ya Mbaazi.

This is basically mashed pigeon peas. We call pigeon peas ‘mbaazi’ and can eat them as fresh peas or dried, but you have to soak overnight. I like the dried ones better. Pigeon peas are a great source of protein and rich in minerals too.

You can have this dish with a hearty stew, a vegetable side or plain. It is quite filling and is on my list of comfort foods that bring back fond memories of home.

Let’s get started.

I soaked the pigeon peas overnight and boiled them till soft. The maize is optional. But this is from my little kitchen garden so why not include it, and some peeled and chopped potatoes.
Boil the potatoes in salted water, when ready, add the pigeon peas and maize and return to pan so they can heat through.
Mash well to a smooth mash like above. That’s it! Your mūkimo is ready. You can add some butter if you want as you mash.

Let us get started on our stew. We had this with an easy beef stew with roasted garden vegetables.

one tbsp of ginger garlic paste, two chopped onions, 350 g beef, chopped, two chopped tomatoes,one tbsp tomato paste, one green pepper chopped and two eggplants and two courgettes, chopped, and some coriander for garnish. The spice quantities are 1/2 tsp each.
Heat oil in a pan, when really hot, add the beef and brown well then set aside.
In the same pan, add your onions, once soft, add the ginger garlic paste, mix well then add the spices.
Add the green pepper, coriander stalks and the tomato puree, mix well.

Add your tomatoes, lower heat and cover and let cook till tomatoes are soft.

Heat your oven to 200degrees C, toss your chopped eggplant and courgette in some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

As the vegetables cook in the oven, add the meat to the softened tomatoes and a cup of water or broth and cover to let them simmer together.
Add your now ready roasted vegetables to the simmering stew, mix well and check seasoning. Cover and cook for ten minutes till its a thick sauce.
Garnish with chopped coriander, and a tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, cover and let sit for a few minutes before serving.
Final plate: Mashed pigeon peas and a hearty beef and vegetable stew. Perfect comfort food!