Traditional Tastes: Kenyan Maharagwe Recipe

September 21, 2020

Traditional Tastes: Kenyan Maharagwe Recipe

One of our favourite places to adventure to and work within is undoubtedly Kenya. Kenya is located in East Africa and has coastline along the Indian Ocean. The Kenyan capital, and largest city, is Nairobi and the country has a population of approximately 51 million. Kenya has a varied climate; it is tropical on the coastline, cooler in the savannah grasslands and features permanent snow on its tallest peaks. Agriculture is the predominant industry and employs 75% of the workforce. Typically, Kenyan cuisine features very few processed foods and instead mainly consists of inexpensive but filling foods. Inland, staple foods include maize, potatoes and beans with meat. Those who live on the coast have a more varied diet that includes fish. Meals tend to be homemade, simple and made with produce that is grown locally. If you want to try a little taste of Kenya, try whipping up this super simple but delicious recipe at home tonight! 


Maharagwe, also known as maharage ya nazi, is a popular Swahili dish which is made from red kidney beans, very simple spices, tomatoes and coconut milk. In the Kiswahili language maharage is red kidney beans and nazi is coconut. The dish can be prepared in both sweet and savoury versions and it is usually served with chapati bread or ugali (a type of maize flour porridge). Kidney beans or red beans are a staple food in the East African diet. Maharagwe may appear somewhat similar to the popular Indian dish rajma, however maharagwe is not heavily spiced, does not use whole spices and there is no vaghar or tempering. You can use dried beans, tinned beans or fresh red beans to make this dish. Dried beans have to be soaked for 6-8 hours in warm water before cooking. The mchuzi or sauce can be thick or thin, depending on your taste. This dish is simple, healthy, gluten free and vegan! 


This delicious recipe is originally by Mayuri's Jikoni and you can read the full recipe and discover other delicious traditional recipes here

To make 4 servings you will need:

  • 1 cup red kidney beans
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ½ cup tomato puree
  • 1-1¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1-2 cups water
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander


  1. If you are using dried beans, soak them in warm water overnight or for 6-8 hours.
  2. Drain out the water, wash the beans and put them in a large pot with about 2-3 cups of water. Let the beans cook until soft.
  3. Drain out excess water from the cooked beans and leave them to one side.
  4. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat.
  5. Add chopped onion and fry until it becomes soft and translucent.
  6. Add ginger and garlic and fry for a few seconds.
  7. Add the powder spices and the tomato puree.
  8. Cook until the tomato puree is thick and not watery.
  9. Add salt and the beans. Mix well.
  10. Add 1 cup water and let the beans simmer for 5 minutes.
  11. Add coconut milk and let the maharagwe simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  12. Add chopped coriander, mix well and serve hot with rice, ugali or chapati.



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