By Kevin Onuma
InformAfrica – From an African perspective, Beans porridge is one of the healthy foods in the world. It is a popular dish in Nigeria among the Igbos and Yorubas; and is high in protein, complex carbohydrates, folate, iron, among other beneficial nutrients.
In this How-To guide, we are going to learn how to cook beans porridge with vegetables, a healthy meal.
So you want to learn how to make Nigerian beans porridge? Whether you live in continental Africa or in diaspora, you’re at the right place to learn how to do just that.
Though cooking beans porridge with vegetables can be time consuming; it is very much worth the time and can be understood as healthy cooking. In case you didn’t know – eating beans promotes good health, help prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, among other health benefits, and could also help with maintaining a balanced weight.
The best type of common beans most suitable for beans porridge is either the African brown beans or Black eye peas. In North America, black-eyed peas is the most common type of beans, and also inexpensive compared to other varieties. Almost all Africans living in diaspora eat black-eyed beans; it is the closest in nature to the African brown beans we (Africans) are accustomed to. Now let’s proceed to “Cooking Beans Porridge With Vegetables (A Healthy Cooking)” shall we?
Ingredients You Need (For 6 servings)
- Beans (African Brown or Black eyed) – 2 pounds.
- Palm Oil: (For taste, not color. I’ll tell you why below)
- 2 pounds of Kale vegetables
- 6 or more sticks of fresh carrots (Optional)
- 2 Fresh Mackerel fish or Salmon or any other Omega 3 rich fish. (I prefer Mackerel)
- Fresh Onion: 1 to 2 medium bulb
- Fresh Garlic: 2 medium bulb
- Dried Pepper (Red ground pepper) – Optional
- Seasoning: (Maggi or Knorr) — I prefer Maggi (use 2-3 cubes)
- Fresh Pepper: (Scotch bonnet or Cayenne)
- Turmeric (A healthy choice for food coloring)
- Nutmeg (For flavor and to reduce flatulence)
Before cooking beans, always rinse and pre-cook first in order to reduce bloating. You simply soak the beans in cold water for at least an hour, rinse thoroughly, and discard water. Pour the beans into your cooking pot, add cold water and boil for at least 15-20 minutes before discarding the water. After pre-cooking, set your beans aside and move onto the next step: Cleaning Your Fish.
Clean Your Fish
Your fish should be already cleaned and cut into few slices from the supermarket where it was purchased from, if not – you have to cut and clean the fish yourself. The best way to clean your fish (meat or chicken) before cooking is to rinse properly with vinegar and/or lime. Cleaning your fish in this manner will not only help to kill possible bacteria but also give the fish flavor and enhance the texture; making it taste better.
After cutting and cleaning your fish, the next step is to cook the fish and chop into pieces, and set aside for later. You may want to put away your chopped fish in the fridge until the need to add it to your cooking.
It is advisable to retain the water from the cooked fish and add it to your beans porridge at a later stage to enjoy the maximum benefits of Omega 3 derived from the fish.
Clean and cut Your Vegetables
The next step is to clean and cut your Kale vegetables. In the U.S, most, if not all vegetables and fruits, are sprayed with pesticide or some type of chemical compound to preserve freshness or drive away pests. Due to this factor, I recommend soaking your kale vegetables in lukewarm to mildly hot water, add a reasonable amount of salt and allow to soak for for at least an hour. Make sure to singularly wash your kale vegetables properly after soaking with salt water – removing every single dirt before cutting or chopping it.
Next, wash your carrots with salt and warm water properly, then use knife to scrape off the outer layer of your carrots before dicing into smaller cubes.
Why Wash Vegetables with Salt? Well, salt is safe for killing almost all types of bacteria without causing any harm to humans. Salt kills and inhibits the growth of microorganisms by drawing water out of the cells of both microbe and food alike through osmosis. It is said that through osmosis, a bacteria cell will excrete all of it’s water in an attempt to equalize the solution, thus causing the cell to die.
How To Cook Beans porridge (Directions)
Beans porridge recipe, Nigerian style:
Remember the beans we pre-cooked earlier and set aside? Now is time to officially cook the beans porridge.
Instead of cooking the mackerel fish separately after cutting and cleaning, I prefer to cook it together with the beans and save both time and resources. To do this, I add the the clean and cut mackerel fish into an empty pot, add some sliced onions, a little salt and 1 Maggi cube and let cook for 15 minutes before adding the pre-cooked beans to the same pot, adding more water till it covers the beans, add a little more salt and let cook for about 35-45 means till beans is somewhat tender.
Remember the fish being cooked along with the beans? After 35-45 minutes have passed as discussed earlier, we have to remove the fish from the cooking pot, set aside to cool before chopping into pieces.
After chopping the cooked fish into pieces, pour half of it into the beans pot, add sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, sprinkle a reasonable portion of turmeric spice to color the beans, and optionally curry spice, add one cube of Maggi, add 7-8 tablespoons of palm oil and let continue to cook. The next step is to add your cut vegetables and diced carrots to the beans being cooked. Mind you: You don’t have to add all the vegetables at once, do this gradually so you don’t overfill your pot to the brim.
While the beans and vegetables cooks, grind or blend your peppers, garlic, and onions together then pour into your pot of beans being cooked. Note: I usually blend the bone (at the middle) and head of the mackerel fish along with peppers and other ingredients. I learnt that fish bones are good source of phosphorous and calcium which are essential for healthy bones.
After adding all the needed ingredients and spices to your beans porridge with vegetables, let cook at medium heat for additional 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
This brings us to the end of this How-To guide on “How To Cook Beans Porridge With Vegetables“. At this point, you can shut down your cooking stove and set your beans porridge with vegetables aside, and its ready for serving.
Beans porridge can be eaten with almost any other type of food, but most Africans usually enjoy beans porridge with yam, bread, fried plantain, drinking garri, potatoes, or just simply enjoy the beans porridge by itself. As for me, I like to have broccoli on the side and I like it best with drinking garri.
In conclusion, “How To Cook Beans Porridge With Vegetables” recipe is an easy to follow explanatory guide to cooking a delicious meal for yourself or loved ones. Beans, especially beans porridge, is a proteinous food and is important for the growth and repair of our muscles, bones, skin, tendons, ligaments, hair, eyes and other vital tissues in our body. I recommend every African to at least eat beans porridge with vegetables once or twice every week. Stay strong, healthy, and active for Africa!
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