Zoe Adjonyoh's Red Red Stew

This dish is so called, I'm told, because it's coloured twice - once from the red of the palm oil and a second time from the tomatoes. But there's a lot of duplication in the titles of dishes in Ghanaian cooking in any case. This stew of black-eyed beans (cowpeas) cooked in a gently spiced tomato sauce is a great vegan dish eaten all day long in Ghana - an alternative to baked beans for breakfast or as a bean casserole for lunch or dinner.

Tip: If using canned chopped tomatoes, add them 20 minutes into the cooking time or stir in 1 tablespoon sugar to counterbalance the tartness of the tomatoes.

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

Ingredients for red red stew

  • 200g (7oz) dried black-eyed beans, or 400g (14oz) can organic black-eyed beans 
  • 75ml (5 tablespoons) sustainable palm oil or carotene oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2.5cm (1-inch) piece fresh root ginger, finely grated (unpeeled if organic)
  • ½ tablespoon dried chilli flakes
  • ½ red Scotch Bonnet chilli, deseeded and diced
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ tablespoon chilli powder
  • 400g (14oz) can chopped or whole plum tomatoes
  • 200g (7oz) plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • gari (fermented, dried and ground cassava), for sprinkling

Method for red red stew

  1. If using dried beans, rinse and place in a large saucepan, cover with a good depth of water and bring to the boil, then simmer for at least 1 hour or until the beans are tender enough to be squeezed easily between thumb and forefinger. Drain and set aside. If using a can of beans, just drain, rinse and drain again.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low–medium heat until it melts (palm oil has a low smoke point, so be careful not to let it burn), add the onion, ginger, chilli flakes and Scotch Bonnet and sauté gently for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the curry and chilli powders and stir well.
  3. Add all the tomatoes, tomato purée, sea salt and black pepper and stir through. Leave to cook over a medium heat for 45–60 minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down. If you want a smooth sauce, blend with a stick blender at this point.
  4. Add the cooked or drained canned beans, reduce the heat to medium–low and cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the beans don’t stick to the pan, until the beans are tender and the tartness of tomatoes has dissipated.
  5. Check the seasoning before serving in a bowl with some gari sprinkled on top, along with a side of Simple Fried Plantain.
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