Life. Love. Food

Ginger and Spring Onion Njahi Stew

I have always been fascinated by how njahi seeds look when raw. Like a small black bag with a neat white zip placed halfway on its side. Or like a tiny  black pod with a strip of white paint. Or like a compressed skunk. They are kinda cute actually. They are black and white when uncooked but once they are cooked, they transform to this amazing deep mahogany shade. God is really creative with everything he does or made for us, don’t you think?  I am not aware exactly where else in the world this seed can be found. From my online sources, they referred  to as lablab beans; a name that is as funny as it is strange. Some people call them tuxedo beans, while others call them hyacinth beans. There are white ones, brown, black ones and even red ones but the popular ones in my country are the black ones.

In my country, these seeds are most commonly consumed by communities from the mount Kenya region. They have slowly gained popularity throughout the nation mainly due to their nutritional benefits. Some of the these its high in protein, folate, iron ,vitamin B6, zinc, calcium,magnesium and phosphorus. They are usually prepared with just onions, tomatoes and some light seasoning. But as you know, here, we always take it up another notch. This njahi recipe has plenty of flavor, which plays up the natural earthy flavor of these beans. I am really excited to share this recipe with you 🙂

 ginger and spring onion njahi stew_kenyan food_njahi recipes_njahi_lablab seed_tuxedo seed_hyacinth seed recipe_kenyan food blog_Kaluhi Adagala

Ingredients for the best njahi ever

njahi stew ingredients_njahi reciepe_Kaluhis Kitchen_Top Kenyan Food Blogger

200ml of coconut milk

2 tablespoons of whole cumin seeds

3 tomatoes, diced

1 red onion, finely diced

Spring onion, finely diced

150 Grams of Njahi seeds

1 green bell pepper, finely diced

5 cloves of garlic + half of a thumb sized size of fresh ginger root, minced

2 tablespoons of royco all spice mix (or your choice of all spice mix)

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

Salt and pepper for seasoning

Fresh coriander for garnishing, finely chopped


These njahi beans take a long time to boil. To shorten this time, soak them in plenty of water  overnight. This will allow them to absorb the water and soften them a great deal. They will swell and turn dark brown. After that time has lapsed, drain the water, give them a good rinse and place them in your sufuria with fresh water ready for boiling.

To this add your whole cumin seeds which will boil with the njahi. Boiling these together will give the njahi their own flavor even without adding any spice.  I bought mine from Tuskys on Kenyatta Avenue. Read the health benefits of whole cumin seeds here.

boilng njahi with cumin seeds for more flavor_kenyan food

After the beans are 3/4 done, add some water and the coconut milk. This will make the beans even tastier and build a very nice flavor profile. I always use the coconut milk by Kara. After they are done, take them from the heat and proceed with the stew preparation.

coconut milk_boiling njahi with coconut milk to add more flavor_njahi reciepe

Put some vegetable oil in a sufuria and heat it up. Add your red onion, the green onion, and the ginger garlic paste. To this add some salt and black pepper for seasoning. The house smelt so good at this point :). Let this saute until the onions are soft. Do not let the garlic burn as it will make the entire dish bitter.

red onion with green onion saute. Onion saute recipes_njahi

I used spring onion with my red onion since the latter plays up the flavor of the former. This makes the dish even more aromatic and delicious.

Add your diced tomatoes together with the green bell pepper. Let this simmer on low heat until they soften. Then add your tomato paste and 1/4 cup of water and let this simmer for 3-5 minutes.

tomato reduction for making njahi stew. make reduction thick by adding water bit by bit_kenyan food blogger

After they have simmered,  add the boiled njahi and mix them in. Mix your royco all spice mix into a paste with some water, and mix this in. Let this simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Add water to this 1/4 cup at a time until you attain the thickness you want. Adding too much at a time will make this unappetizingly dilute and light.

njahi with fresh finely chopped coriander_best njahi recipe_tuxedo bean_lablab bean_hyacinth bean_kenyan food

Add your finely chopped coriander, mix in then serve.

Nothing would bring you nearly as much delight as this njahi stew would. This is one of those dishes that you will always enjoy.

njahi served on a bed of pishori rice_kenyan food_njahi

The taste of the onions comes through so well and the ginger compliments the bell pepper really well. The njahi picked the cumin and coconut milk flavor really well. This transformed this everyday Kenyan meal into a feast.

njahi with coconut milk and cumin_njahi recipes_kenyan food_njahi_black bean_tuxedo bean_best kenyan food blog_a_best African food blog

I hope you give this a try soon. You shall not regret 🙂

Much love,


Download the full recipe here

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  1. Njoki

    I luv your blog..question after adding the coconut milk and water to the njahi while boiling,do u wait till they dry up..or can you just drain the excess when the are done?

    • kaluhiskitchen

      That will depend on your personal preferences. But personally, once they are done, I simply remove them from the heat and drain the excess water if any. If they over-stay, they may over cook and start to bomoka.But if very little water has remained, I wait for it to dry up. There is no one solid way of doing this, I just encourage you to follow your heart and instinct as you cook and do what you feel is right at the moment for you.

  2. Sue

    I love njahi and yes it is a very unique bean. It can be hard to find if you live in a region where they are not grown. Very similar to black beans when cooked but oh so different. I cook mine almost the same way minus the Royco.

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Yes, it is very east African. And I guessed it was in the same family as black bean, though just by appearance. But maybe this recipe too can be used on black bean.

  3. Kui

    Very happy to have come across your blog: simple recipes, easy to find ingredients. Can’t wait to give most of them a try! I am a super-lover of njahi, and I already have some in my freezer. How can I best alter this recipe with the pre-boiled njahi?

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Karibu sana Kui!Honored to have you as a reader. If you already have boiled njahi, you can still use/ follow the recipe as is from the point I start the actual cooking. However, If you feel you have to use the cumin, You can add a tablespoon together with your onions. Alternatively, you can add ground cumin spice as you add the royco. Ground cumin spice is available in any supermarket at about KES.120

      • Cherono

        I absolutely loved this recipe. The only thing I did different was simmer my pre-boiled njahi with coconut milk and ground cumin. Tho the cumin was a bit light. I’ll mix in one tablespoon next time. Thank you for what you’re doing.

        • Kaluhi's_Kitchen

          I love that you took my recipe and made it suit your current situation. Coconut milk really does upgrade everything!!!

        • Gloria

          Hi kaluhi.. Not a really big fun of njahi but will definitely try out your recipe.. What is the solution for already preboiled njahi fr the freezer in regards to the coconut milk?

          • kaluhiskitchen

            You just cook them as I have described. Doesnt the coconut milk come in in the stewing satge?

  4. Grace

    Kaluhi I really like your recipes ; well illustrated, step by step procedure and tasty too when implemented. The ingredients aren’t exotic either. Keep it up girl!

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Oh Grace! Thank you so much! This means I am doing my job right! *smiles to infinity*

  5. Jessie

    Wapi hiyo subscribe button? Love this blog, love you Kaluhi!

    • kaluhiskitchen

      At the bottom of each post.. And thank you so much :))

  6. Joyce

    Your recipe rocks! Made it today and everyone enjoyed it with chapati. Will definitely try others.
    Thank you for your simplicity.

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Hey Joyce,

      I am so so happy that you enjoyed this recipe. I hope you tried many others :))

  7. Faith

    Waoh,, love ua recipes..tried peas n potato stew n added beef it was napika Njahi but i do buy already boiled no need to add carrots

    • kaluhiskitchen

      I am so stoked that you do. This njahi recipe was to die for and I am certain you will enjoy it as well


  8. Jennifer

    Thanks. I have looked up and down, over and under for a good and creative way to cook njahi. Thank you very much

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Let me tell you, this is THE best njahi recipe of all time!!! I know you will enjoy it just as much !!

  9. Liz

    Hey Kaluhi njahi gives alot of gas is there anything you do it to reduce that…

    • kaluhiskitchen

      For me it does not give me gas. I think it reacts do people differently. You are better off asking a nutritionist about that as they will offer a concrete solution to you. I do not have a nutrition background so I cannot answer that objectively.

  10. Anita

    This recipe in particular has become my all time favourite way of enjoying njahi.😊 I have also made the Guinness marinated pork a household favourite. 😄Thank you for making cooking easy and exciting.😊

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Eat that good food girl!!!!! Thrillied to know you are exploring new recipes and enjoying each one <3

    • Judd

      Thanks Kaluhi. Two questions: how long does one boil the njahi? What does 3/4 done mean? Thanks!

  11. xavier

    Am a fan of Njahi,
    Yours looks very enticing. Cooking is not my thing though. Is there a restaurant where I can sample some of your creations

    • kaluhiskitchen

      There isn’t one , yet.

  12. Cynthia Njeru

    I am excited to try this but where do I purchase the coconut milk?

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Supermarket. All supermarkets

  13. Hellen

    Trying out this recipe tomorrow – Jamhuri Day 2017!

    • kaluhiskitchen

      YAAAAAASSSSSSSSSS!!!!!! Let me know how it goes <3

  14. Hannah

    Waau….mmmmuah..what a delicious stew of njahi using that recipe.. Thank

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Most Welcome!

  15. Julianne

    Thank you Kaluhi for making Njahis such a nice meal. I must admit before this I never liked Njahis though very healthy in that they contain proteins, magnesium, iron, phospherous, zinc vitamins B and C. I have come to enjoy them alot especially with rice. After boiling with coconut milk, if they do not dry out, I drain the coconut water and use it instead of plain water in the stew.

    Thank you so much Kaluhi and God bless you

  16. Cassey

    Thank you so much for making Njahîs such a lovely meal. I never liked Njahîs since I had no fantasy on how to spice them up. But after trying this recipe I loved them. Tried out with basmati rice, wao! A dream! For the remaining water after boiling, I drained it and used it for the stew instead of plain water and it was very tasty. As for gasing, I looked up and found the following: 1. while eating, chew well to ease digestion later in the stomach. 2. Introduce Njahîs in your meals starting with as little as one spoonful per meal and increasing as you go on. 3. Probably combining with vegetables like spinach would also help. (Personally I have no problems with gasing after beans since I grew up eating meals like Gîtheri) considering their health benefits like balanced proteins, fibre, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc all necessary for bones, I would try my best to integrate them in my diet. Thank you so much once again Kaluhi, I never knew that Njahîs could be such a dream.

  17. Ab-Jnr

    Really nice, quick recipe that sounds delicious.

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Hoe you try it out!! <3

  18. mercy

    I tried it and i sure didn’t regret….it was bomb

    • kaluhiskitchen

      So happy you enjoyed!!

  19. Zipporah nyando

    Question: do u add cumin seed and coconut milk while boiling or after

    • kaluhiskitchen

      As the blog post extremely clearly explains, cumin goies while boiling and coconut milk while stewing

  20. Sherry

    Hey Kaluhi ,I am finally here in 2020! Good stuff. How can I make sure my stews don’t dry the soup completely. I always want some lil stew but they end up drying up.

    • kaluhiskitchen

      Welcome to the fam.

      Thank god the solution is simple: when it dries up, you just ass more water/stew until you get to the level you prefer your stew to be.

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