This hearty vegetable dish is one of Kenya’s most popular, made primarily of just two ingredients: beans and maize. Like anything popular, it has a lot of haters, so the best way to make sure you make great githeri is to keep your ingredients fresh and soft for a deliciously savory and wholesome meal.
Although mostly known for its popularity among the central Kenyan communities like the Kikuyu, Meru, and Mbeere, it is also popular in most communities around Kenya, and other Bantu communities from Ethiopia to South Africa, going by different names. In Tanzania, it goes by a few different names like Kande, Pure, Ngate, for example. The dish has a much bigger footprint than just Kenya.
Like many Kenyan children, I first encountered it in school. Served all over the country as a school lunch option, you’re lucky to have a lunch lady that likes their job, as they will serve this. This is how my family enjoys githeri.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup small diced potatoes
1 large red onion, finely diced
3 tomatoes, finely diced or 1 1/2 cups of tomato puree
1/2 a green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup of chopped spring onions
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
A handful of fresh coriander (dhania), chopped
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup boiled kidney beans
1 cup boiled soft maize
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Heat up 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in a saucepan, fry your diced potatoes until golden brown, and use a spider to remove them and set them aside for later.
In the same pan, add your spring onions, red onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Saute until lightly golden brown.
Add the grated ginger, cayenne pepper, garam masala, salt, and black pepper, and cook until fragrant.
Pour your tomato puree into the pan and cook it down for about 8 to 10 minutes, adding a little water along the way to prevent anything from burning.
Once your puree has cooked down, reduce the heat to about medium-low, add in your beans, maize, and the rest of your water, cover with a lid, and simmer for at least 30-45 minutes until the water has reduced by two-thirds.
Add your cooked potatoes, lemon juice, lemon zest, and chopped dhania, before reducing the heat to low and mixing everything until well combined.
Serve hot by itself, or as an accompaniment to a starch like rice or chapati.
Pre-boil your maize and beans until cooked through, and keep in the freezer for whenever you’re ready to make a quick batch of Githeri.
Prep all your veggies and spices before you start to cook to keep the cooking process flowing.