Ugandan Greens and Beans
Ugandans cook primarily from memory, so my husband Hiller has never written down any of his fabulous food secrets. He just tosses ingredients in, and magic comes out. I finally got him to sit down and attempt to quantify one of my favorite recipes–a vegetarian dish full of spinach and beans in a peanut sauce. Yum! Disclaimer: Hiller never uses measuring spoons or cups, so he tried to guestimate the measurements. Still, it should turn out yummy even if the measurements aren’t exact. Here it is:
Ingredients for Greens and Beans:
2 TBS cooking oil (he uses olive oil now)
1/4 C diced onion
1/4 C diced green pepper
1 medium tomato, diced,
About 1 C water
Small package or spinach, chopped
1 heaping TBS of peanut butter
1 can of pigeon peas in coconut milk (found in the Goya section of your supermarket)
1 can of small white beans (Goya)
Salt to taste about 1/2 tsp
Turn the heat to medium high and heat the oil in a medium saucepan or pot. **Ugandans are used to cooking on a charcoal stove which gets very hot. I think the high heat adds an extra flavor of caramelization. The burner should be set to medium high for most of the time, and just make sure you keep stirring and adding water if necessary!**
Add the onion and green pepper (they should immediately begin to sizzle and brown). Stir constantly until they start to brown and then add the tomato. Stir until fully cooked and soft. Add 1/3 C of the water to prevent mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot. When tomatoes are fully cooked add spinach and another 1/3 cup of water. Stir mixture until spinach is soft. Then add heaping spoon of peanut butter. Stir until PB is fully incorporated. Add white beans and pigeon peas in coconut milk. Simmer on medium high for about 15 minutes, adding extra water if it seems like it might be sticking. Add salt to taste. Serve with Posho (recipe below) and/or rice.
Optional addition: 2-3 cups of diced green beans, added after the tomatoes.
Hiller had a hard time figuring out the proportions on this one, so I found this excellent recipe from The Kwagala Project (Kwagala means “love”) found on the Guilty Kitchen. They also include some FABULOUS pictures of their project and their recipe for “beans and posho”.
I adapted their recipe a bit to make it more easy to follow:
4 cups Goya white cornmeal (fine cornmeal with the green label)
6 cups boiling water
1. Heat water to a rolling boil in a pot. Slowly pour the cornmeal (maize flour to Ugandans) into the boiling water and whisk to avoid forming lumps.
2. Stir continuously with a large wooden spoon and mash so that lumps don’t form (they call this “mingling”). Keep adding flour until it is thicker than mashed potatoes. Cook for 3 -4 minutes while stirring continuously. The cornmeal should start to pull away from the edges of the pot as you stir. This is how you know it’s ready.
3. Serve immediately. You can dip pieces of posho into the sauce with your hands, or you can stay American and use a fork
PS: I am really enjoying creating new family traditions, and Hiller’s recipes will be a key part of our holiday meals! Now if only I could get him to write a cookbook….