By Barbara Naadjie
Read Barbara’s story: SLOW FOOD ON SUNDAYS

Ghanaian black-eyed bean stew with kelewele - fried plantains

In Ghana, this fried plantain dish is known as 'kelewele'. The bean stew is normally called ‘red-red’ because of the hue it takes on when palm oil is used. However, for health and availability reasons, Barbara prefers to use coconut oil instead.

If using dried black-eyed beans, we recommend soaking them in cold water overnight to speed up the cooking process.


    For the stew:
  • 1 pound dried black-eyed beans (or 2x 400g cans - these will save you a lot of cooking time)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (can be substituted with a neutral-flavoured vegetable oil)1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon adobo spice mix
  • 1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 400 gram tin mackerel, drained
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet (Jamaican) or Habanero pepper, or two Jalapeños
  • For the kelewele (fried plantains):
  • 4 large, ripe plantains - the skins should be blackened like an over-ripe banana
  • 1 unpeeled ginger root, chopped and blended with about ⅓ cup of water to form a rough paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground Calabash nutmeg (optional) - this is difficult to source outside Africa, and cannot be substituted with standard nutmeg. Omit if you cannot find it, or replace it and the cloves with 2 teaspoons of this spice mix, which is made from easily available spices and can be used to flavour other soups, stews and meats.
  • Neutral-flavoured vegetable oil for frying, e.g. sunflower or canola


  1. If using dried beans, soak in cold water overnight, or use a quick-soak method: cover beans with 5 centimetres (2 inches) of water, bring to the boil and cook for two minutes, then cover and leave to sit for an hour. You can skip this step but you’ll need to add twice as much water at step 2, and the cooking time will be much longer.
  2. Rinse and drain the soaked beans, then return to the pot and fill with just enough water to cover. Leave to boil while you continue cooking (they will take about an hour) but check on the pot occasionally to make sure it doesn’t boil over or dry out.
  3. Prepare the plantains. With the skin still on, slice the fruit lengthwise then cut the flesh into 2 centimetres (3/4 inch) slices before peeling.
  4. Toss the plantains in the ginger paste, salt, pepper and spices.
  5. Heat 1/2 centimetre (1/5 inch) of oil in a shallow frying pan until it sizzles when a plantain is added.
  6. Fry plantain pieces in batches until dark golden brown on both sides (about 5 minutes).
  7. Remove from oil using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  8. When black-eyed beans are soft enough to eat, remove from pot. Only drain any liquid that is above the level of the beans - leave the rest.
  9. Heat coconut oil in pot and gently fry the tomato and onion until the onion is translucent.
  10. Add spice mix, stock powder and salt. Stir well.
  11. Return black-eyed beans and reserved liquid to the pot. Add mackerel and Scotch Bonnet pepper and cook on low for 20 minutes.