Zoe Adjonyoh's Aboboi - Bambara Bean Stew

This wonderful creamy bean stew is a summer favourite most often served with Tatale. It is beloved in Ghana and one of our chefs in Brixton - a follow Fante, 'Aunty' Cynthia - takes particular pride in cooking this dish. Cynthia always insists on soaking the beans overnight as we do in the restaurant, but at home I find that, as with black-eyed beans, you can save time by just boiling them in salted water.

Tip: The cooking times of dried beans can vary depending on how long they’ve been dried for so one batch can take 2 hours and another 3-4 hours – be prepared to wait if you’re not pre-soaking them overnight.

This recipe is extracted from Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen by Zoe Adjonyoh (£25, Octopus Books). Photography © Nassima Rothacker


Ingredients for aboboi

  • 300g (10½oz) dried bambara beans, or substitute dried chickpeas
  • 1½ red onions, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus extra to taste
  • 200g Romano peppers, cored, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 3–4 red rocket (Anaheim) chillies, roughly chopped
  • 10g (¼oz) thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • 7.5cm (3-inch) piece fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • ½ tablespoon ground hot pepper, or substitute cayenne pepper, or 1 small red bird’s-eye chilli, deseeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon granulated or soft light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dried ground prawn/shrimp powder (optional – omit for a veggie version)

Method for aboboi

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4, and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Place the beans in a heavy-based saucepan and cover with water (about 750ml/1¼ pints). Add half the chopped onions and the salt and bring to the boil, then continue to boil, stirring regularly, for 2–3 minutes, skimming off any froth that rises to the surface.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1–2 hours or until the beans are just tender. Add a little extra water as required to the pan to prevent it running dry.
  4. While the beans are simmering, spread the peppers, chillies and thyme out on the lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 25 minutes.
  5. Transfer the roasted peppers and chillies to a blender or food processor, add the remaining onions and the ginger, garlic and ground hot pepper and blitz until well blended. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any remaining bits, then add to the pan of beans along with the sugar and ground prawn/shrimp powder (if using).
  6. When most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated, you should be left with a rich, creamy bean stew. Adjust the seasoning to your taste at the end, then serve in a bowl with a light sprinkling of gari (fermented, dried and ground cassava).
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2020

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