Although Kenyan, maharagwe is an example of the influence that Indian culture has had on some of the cuisine of East Africa. The turmeric, tomatoes, coconut milk, cardamom, and green peppers are all things you might find in any number of Indian dishes, but it all comes together with a distinctly East African feel. Typically maharagwe would be served with ugali, a starchy cornmeal mush. But I thought I'd play off of the Indian influence and serve it with a cashew curry jasmine rice.
My version of maharagwe draws on a number of different versions of the dish, along with some touches of my own - instead of the usual kidney beans, for example, I used smaller, brighter Salvadorean red beans. I also like the distinctive punch that peanut oil imparts to the broth. Adding your own touches to a dish that has such personality isn't only allowed - to my way of thinking, it's encouraged!
1 -11/2 cups dried red beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
2 medium white or yellow onions, chopped
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 green pepper, chopped, seeds removed
1-2 habanero peppers, seed removed, minced
5-6 canned plum tomatoes, hand crushed, along with some juice
1 can of coconut milk (not light!)
2 tsp turmeric
3-4 cardamom seeds
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt, to taste
Boil the beans in a large pot until tender, 1-2 hours. Drain.
Return the beans to the pot and add about 1/2 - 3/4 cup water, simmer gently until absorbed
Meanwhile, in a deep skillet fry the onions in peanut oil until lightly browned
Add garlic, green pepper, and habanero pepper, fry for another few minutes
Add the contents of the skillet, along with the remaining ingredients, to the pot of beans and simmer until everything is tender and the flavors have come together. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt accordingly.
1 cup jasmine rice
1 3/4 cup water
handful of unsalted cashews, roughly broken up into pieces
7-8 fresh curry leaves, roughly shredded
1 tbsp butter or ghee
a couple of pinches of salt
Melt the ghee over medium high heat; add the curry leaves and stir for a couple of minutes. Next add the cashews and cook until just starting to brown. Add the rice; toast, stirring constantly, for about a minute. Add the water and salt, bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until done - usually about a half hour.