Maharagwe, or curried black-eyed beans in coconut milk (Mali)

People know very little about Mali, considering that area-wise it is the 24th largest country in the world. Few would be able to place it on the map: it is in West Africa, landlocked. The natural resources include gold and uranium, but Mali is still one of the poorest countries in the world, with malnutrition and lack of clean water a major problem. A long time ago, however, it used to be the site of “one of the richest and largest empires of the world”, where art and science flourished. In the spring of 2012 there was a coup and it is currently lead by an interim government. Most of the country lies in Southern Sahara, but the southern part has a tropical climate. Music and literature are very important, as are football and basketball.

The staples of the Malinese cuisine are millet, corn, and rice (often made into porridge), sometimes couscous, served with sauces. Sorghum and pasta are eaten too. Common ingredients include fish, chicken, different meats, eggs, peanuts, sesame seeds, beans, tomatoes, onions, green bell peppers, cucumber, cassava, chili, eggplants, plantains, yams, okra, baobab leaves and sweet potato leaves. Many fruit are also popular, including watermelon, other melons, orange, mango and papaya. As in many African countries, Maggi cubes are are an ubiquitous seasoning. Tea is very important and there are two popular “national drinks”: jinjinbere (made of water, sugar, lemon, and ginger) and dabileni (made of water, sugar, and sorrel).

This recipe for a coconut milk based black-eyed bean curry didn’t appear particularly exotic or unusual (nor most the ingredients that are supposedly most popular in Mali), but it seemed tasty, and it was.



1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cans black-eyed beans (or about 3 cups/7.2 dl freshly cooked black-eyed beans)
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp chili powder
4 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 cups/3.6 dl coconut milk

Heat the oil in a large pot or pan. Fry the onion and garlic until soft and golden. Partially mash the cooked peas with a fork and add to the onion. Add the tomatoes and mix well. Add the turmeric, red pepper, chili powder and half the cilantro. Pour in the coconut milk and stir to blend all the ingredients.

Cover the pot and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over rice or stirred into the rice, garnished with the remaining cilantro.

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