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Red Red Vegan Bean Stew

Nassima Rothacker

Chef notes

A stew so good they named it twice. This dish is so called, I'm told, because it's colored red 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 peas (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. Usually eaten with Fried Plantain, this is tasty, nourishing comfort food that's super easy to make.


  • 7 ounces dried black-eyed peas or 1 (14-ounce) can organic black-eyed peas
  • 5 tablespoons sustainable palm oil or carotene oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh root ginger, finely grated (unpeeled if organic)
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 red Scotch bonnet chile, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chopped or whole plum tomatoes
  • 7 ounces plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • gari (fermented, dried and ground cassava), for sprinkling



If using dried beans, rinse and place in a large saucepan, cover with a good depth of water and bring to a 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.


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, pepper flakes and Scotch bonnet and sauté gently for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the curry and chile powders and stir well.


Add all the tomatoes, tomato purée, sea salt and black pepper and stir through. Leave to cook over a medium heat for 45 to 60 minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down. If you want a smooth sauce, blend with a stick blender at this point.


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.


Check the seasoning before serving in a bowl with some gari sprinkled on top, along with a side of fried plantain.

Excerpted from ZOE'S GHANA KITCHEN. Copyright © 2021 by Zoe Adjonyoh. Used with permission of Voracious, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY. All rights reserved.