Black beans are a staple in South American cuisine ,here in Kenya they remain a preserve of central Kenya.

Black beans in parts of Kenya are a delicacy especially given to expectant and breast-feeding mothers to boost milk production as well as aid in aiding the mothers recovery after child-birth.

The folate in the beans is especially good for the development of the nervous system in a foetus and may  help prevent spina bifida that is caused by lack of folate.

Spina bifida(open spine) is a congenital condition where the spine is not completely developed.

Black beans need to feature in every pregnant womans diet.Its high iron content is also great for pregnant women and any  individuals  who need to boost their Hb(Haemoglobin) levels

The black bean or njahi is a very nutritionally rich food,its high in protein,folate ,iron,vitamin B6,calcium,magnesium and phosphorus.

As a legume the soluble fibre that it contains  is very good in lowering cholesterol levels.

Black beans make a complete protein when paired with brown rice.Read more about this legumes nutritional benefits here .

When my daughter was born and we were recuperating at home,a friend  brought a very tasty dish  of mashed black beans and sweet bananas that was out of this world,i am still trying to replicate the recipe.

Here is a recipe i got from my friend Leah that is finger licking good!

1 medium onion
1 large clove of garlic
1 medium carrot
1 medium stalk celery
Parsley sprigs
4 slices bacon (I use the kind with a bit of fat)
1 knorr chicken cube dissolved in a cup of hot water
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
500 grams boiled and drained black beans (njahi)
1.       Peel and chop onion, peel and finely chop garlic, peel and coarsely chop carrot, coarsely chop the celery, wash and chop parsley about two tablespoons.
2.       Cut bacon into ½-inch strips and fry in a saucepan over medium heat for one minute.
3.       Add onion and garlic to the bacon. Cook for about five minutes stirring frequently until onion is tender and begin to turn yellow. Bacon will still be soft. Remove saucepan from heat
4.       Stir in the dissolved chicken cube, carrot, parsley, celery, oregano and red pepper. Boil the mixture over high heat, once boiling, reduce heat just so that the food is boiling gently and cook for ten minutes.
5.       Place about half a cup of the njahi in a bowl and mash with a folk then stir the whole beans and mashed ones into the saucepan and heat through. Salt to taste.
(I usually do not use pepper because of the young ones in the family, I add either fresh chilli or Tabasco in my plate).
6.       Serve with plain white or brown rice


16 Comments Add yours

  1. Mummy Tales says:

    Didn’t know much about the exact nutritional benefits of the Njahi’s -I just hear mathe’s talking about them and recommending them. It’s good now I know the facts.


    1. Santina says:

      We have a lot of great nutritious traditonal dishes,it is a pity we prefer fries and deep fried chicken over foods like njahi.
      Try make some soon ,who knows maybe Kitty may just love them :).


      1. Magdalen says:

        I like this but why the Bacon Fat why not Olive oil? ?


      2. Santina says:

        You can use olive oil,the bacon fat is just for extra flavour.


  2. ann says:

    love mashed njahi with ripe bananas


    1. Santina says:

      Share the recipe Ann i can post it on my blog .I have only had it once prepared by my mums friend and i would love to give it a try.


      1. Ann says:

        it is not complicated. Boil your njahi untill soft mash them seperatly untill they form a paste. Use a motar or a soda bottle to grind. Boil green bananas untill there are well cooked then add 4 to 5 ripe bananas(depending on the amout of njahi you want to prepare) let them get a bit of the heat then mash together with the unripe bananas, let them be semi- solid, mix them with the mashed njahi untill they are well mixed you can use the cooking stick to mix them together. (you can conctact me through the email I have submitted today)


  3. Nyaga says:

    Hi. I came across this article while researching “njahi”. I realise that this is a cooking-oriented piece rather than a scientific treatise, but I must make one important correction. “Njahi” are NOT black beans (black turtle beans to be more precise, a variant of Phaseolus vulgaris), but are actually hyacinth beans (also known as Egyptian kidney beans or Indian beans, the seeds of Lablab purpureus). Lablab purpureus is native to Africa while Phaseolus vulgaris originated in Central and South America. Black turtle beans and “njahi” can be distinguished in appearance by the white hilum of “njahi”.

    Good day.


    1. Santina says:

      That is an interesting observation,i will be sure to check it out.Thank you.


  4. Amin says:

    Stumbled on this blogsite while looking for a recipe for njahi. Having made the beans, they had this bitter taste! Is that how the beans are and are there ways to cut down on the bitter taste? Thanks.


    1. Santina says:

      You should not have the bitter taste, omit the chicken cube.Saute’ or fry your onion till soft,add a cup of grated carrot,a diced tomato and a tablespoon of ketchup ,let cool till softened for on medium high heat for 2 minutes.Add your cooked black beans stir and lower your heat,add some water or stock and let simmer for 10 minutes.Let me know how that goes.Thank you for your comment.


  5. Santina; i tried this on Tuesday and i must admit it was absolutely divine! i couldn’t find parsley though a bit of dhania substituted quiet well! i was never much of a fan until i tried this rather skeptically! thanks for proving me wrong! wonderful & hearty


    1. Santina says:

      Thank you Stacey for visiting and i am glad you enjoyed the njahi’s.


  6. Moses says:

    They are sweet when served boiled


    1. Santina says:

      Thank you Moses for your comment.Yes Black beans are great no matter how you have them.


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