Saturday 25 January 2014

Nigerian Stewed Beans | EWA RIRO

nigerian beans

I never liked beans as a kid. In fact, that's putting it mildly. I detested beans. In an attempt to get me to eat it, I was told that it'd make me grow taller (who else was fed this line?). I wasn't so convinced - if growing tall meant suffering through mouthfuls of mushy beans then I was more than happy to remain a little shrimp. Still, I had no choice in the matter and over time developed strategies to make it more palatable to my young taste buds e.g. loading up on plantain or a good chunk of bread (both usually served alongside beans, thankfully).

Not really selling this to you, am I? Well, all I can say is that it's a good thing our taste buds change over time. I honestly cannot imagine life without a scrummy bowl of beans thrown in there from time to time (slight exaggeration but...). It's up there with yam pottage as my go-to comfort food. Plus there's the whole highly nutritious thing that isn't so bad either...

'Ewa' is the Yoruba name for this meal, but utter the word 'beans' (the 's' pronounced instead of the 'z' you have in 'baked beans') and the image conjured up in a Nigerian's mind would most likely be the porridge-like dish made with honey beans (a.k.a. oloyin) and palm oil.

This is a leaner version of that. The palm oil has been reduced, so you still get the classic flavour but your beans won't be swimming in oil. I've also used some red pepper mix to give it some colour and added flavour. Still tastes great; there's no hiding the unique taste of honey beans. 

Tip: soak the beans in cold water overnight and rinse thoroughly before cooking.

beans and plantain

(serves 4)
- 2 cups honey beans (oloyin beans)
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- water
- 2 cups red pepper mix
- 2 tbsp palm oil
- salt to taste

Start by placing the beans in a large pot and covering completely with water. Boil for 5 minutes and discard the water. Give the beans another rinse.

Cover the beans with water again and cook with the diced onion  for about 45 minutes (low-medium heat), making sure that the water doesn't dry up completely before the beans become tender (you may need to add more water as you go along). At the end of the cooking process, you want to be left with very soft beans and a mushy consistency.

Add the red pepper mix, palm oil and salt to taste. Stir to combine all the ingredients and cook for another 10 minutes on medium-high heat.

Serve hot with some plantain, bread or a generous sprinkling of garri over the top.


  1. I used to despise beans when I was younger too, I love them. Beans and plantain...beans and yam...beans as a side dish to rice and stew. Bring on the beans/:

    1. I've heard that from several people, what a strange phenomenon. Definitely convinced about the changing taste buds theory (for the most part...)
      Now, beans and yam...that's the first time I've heard that combo!

  2. I still don't like "beanz" -___-

  3. I live in the U.S. what is red pepper mix?

    1. Hey! If you click the link in the ingredient list it will take you to a post all about it. It’s essentially a blend of red peppers, tomatoes and chillis - the base for several Nigerian dishes :)

  4. Ive noticed that garri comes in white & yellow. which is preferred or does it matter? Is one more nutritious then the other?

    1. I would say it doesn’t matter too much. The difference in colour is as a result of the oil used to fry the grated garri. The yellow garri gets its colour from palm oil. Palm oil does contain some antioxidants, vitamin A and vitamin E. So certainly something to consider.