I always enjoy getting different opinions from my readers concerning all matters food. Not only does it let me know what we like, but also makes me even more aware of how different we all are and how interesting our personal preferences are. I especially love getting opinions from my twitter audience since they are refreshingly honest and quite funny too. I once had a series under my usual #KaluhisKonversations (check out that hashtag if you have not :))) where we spoke about njahi and why some people may not like this bean, and how you can make it better overall. I touched on this recipe I made over a year back. Those who love njahi were all into it and those who did not, were definitely won over. With our rainy season in full gear, I decided to make another njahi stew recipe, this time round with bold, very expressive flavors. Be ready to explore new flavors and try new things, because my garlic and cumin njahi stew is nothing short of delicious!
2 cups of njahi
2 red onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, pureed
1 teaspoon of finely chopped sage (optional)
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
½ a teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 ½ tablespoons of royco
1 tablespoon of black pepper
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
Guinness stout, 1 bottle
Vegetable oil for frying
Salt to taste
Soak your njahi overnight in some Guinness. After the soaking time has lapsed, put them to boil until softened then set aside. Njahi belong in the black bean family and have a very distinct earthy taste that I personally really enjoy. They are black with a white strip on its side and turn dark brown after soaking. The reason for soaking is so that they soften and cook in a much shorter time period. Usually, I soak mine in good ol’ water but this time I soaked mine in Guinness stout just to infuse the barley-coffee notes the beer inherently has from the get go.
I would like to address one of the most frequent question I get asked: “So, will I get drunk when I cook with Guinness (or any alcoholic drink)? “
The answer: NO
Cooking is very much a science as it is an art. Do you guys remember when we were learning about various liquid boiling points during Chemistry class in high school? We learnt that alcohol has a very low boiling point. Meaning, it evaporates very fast when heat is applied. Now, when you cook with an alcoholic beverage, the alcohol evaporates in the very early stages of cooking. It is cooked off. What is left behind is the other ingredients and flavors that were used to make the alcoholic beverage; and that is EXACTLY what we are after. We cook with alcohol not to get high (which doesn’t even happen), but to get to the other layered flavors there in. Please please remember this! When someone tells you they got high after eating food cooked with alcohol, just know they are lying because you know and understand the science behind what happens when you cook with alcohol.
With Guinness, after the alcohol cooks off, flavors of the malt, the barley sometimes coffee is what gets left behind. And depending on the dish you are making, one flavor is amplified and brought out over the other.
In a pan with your heated oil, add your cumin seeds and let it simmer until fragrant. Be careful not to burn your cumin seeds. I bought my cumin seeds from Tuskys at about 60 shillings. Then, add your chopped red onion, garlic, the finely chopped sage. Let this cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. The use of sage is optional, but if you want to use some, you can purchase some from Nakumatt. Alternatively, you can use coriander stalks.
After the onions have softened and the garlic is fragrant, add your pureed tomatoes, your tomato paste and allow it to cook down for about 4 minutes. Add the boiled njahi and mix them in. Add all the spices and allow them to simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
5 minutes before removing your stew form the heat, add your finely chopped carrots and green bell pepper. I always add my carrots an bell pepper towards the end since I do not want to overcook them hence making them soggy. A bit of texture especially in stews is always ideal.
Once done, serve with your favorite starch.
One thing I find absolutely magical about cooking is how different ingredients, each with their own individual characteristics can come together and result in a completely new dish, with its own individual characteristics.
If you have never landed on a great njahi recipe and have always struggled to find flavors that compliment the natural earthiness of the bean, then this is it. My garlic and cumin njahi stew is packed with flavors and each note explodes on your taste buds and you eat. You will taste the barley notes in the thick soup of the stew, your will feel the mild crunch of the carrots, aromatics of the whole cumin seeds and finally the garlic and chilli will warm your pallete.
After you give my garlic and cumin njahi stew, be sure to try out my other njahi recipe: with coconut cream spring onion and ginger. I am sure you will love both. Now that we are in our rainy season, this is the perfect time to indulge :))
Get your downloadable recipe here :))