a cup and a half of beans overnight. Whatever kind of beans
they sell at the market that day will do. Boil the living daylights
out of them until they are easily mashable. Mash half of the
beans to smithereens.
a deep pot pour in a gin bottle full of oil (half cup) or about a
cup if you want it really Liberian. If you want it more American,
only put in enough to saute one onion.
the onions and dump in a container of tomato paste. Add salt
and pepper to taste, one teaspoon of red peppers, and a couple chicken
bouillon cubes. Pour in the mashed and unmashed beans into the
pot and bury it all in water -- about a cup or two. Then boil
it all away. When the soup is thick, it's done.
recipe is the only one I’ve ever seen in Liberia that did not
include red palm oil. So, if you have qualms about deforesting
the rainforest for red palm oil groves, this recipe is for you.
the coordinator for the American Corner Library in Zwedru, invited
me to his home for one of my Liberian favorites, beans gravy.
However, when he took me to his place, we headed in the direction
of the mosque instead of the Telecom tower. I said, “I
thought you lived in the other direction.” He replied,
“I’m an African man. That’s where my other
wife lives. I have two.” It was news to me.
Possibly to you, too.
made a great beans gravy. And, like so often happens when friends
gather to eat, we exchanged recipes. I learned how to make her
African dish while she learned how to make chocolate no-bake cookies.
told me that you could use any beans available for the dish –
red, black or white were at the market in Zwedru. For her dish,
she prepared the gravy with black beans. She didn’t mention
anything about washing or soaking the beans. I know you really
want to wash the beans you buy in the marketplace. It’s
truly shocking how much dirt comes off them! And, soaking the
beans overnight would make the process more successful. However,
when I make this dish, I opt for canned beans. I go for convenience
in my kitchen. But, if you have to stick to the truly Liberian
experience, boil those beans for an hour.
a separate pot, if you have fresh meat, boil it up for thirty minutes.
I was instructed if the meat was dried, which is common for fish in
Liberia, you may have to boil it forty-five minutes. I’m
not sure what kind of meat was in my dish. I’m learning
it sometimes is better not to ask. Victoria highly recommended
chicken, but I didn’t have any chicken on this occasion.
Whatever meat you choose, when it is ready, keep the water.
your peppers in a mortar. Then, over what may be your third
coal pot with charcoal, fry up your peppers with the onion, tomato
paste, Maggi cubes and salt. (Tomato paste comes in tiny cans in Liberia
that hold three or four tablespoons. The only bouillon cubes
are made by Maggi. Everyone calls them Maggi cubes.) Mash
up half of your beans into a mush and add that to the frying pan.
When you are satisfied that it is all fried up properly, and I have
no guidance for you here, place all of your fried goods in a large
pot. Add three cups of the boiled meat broth, the meat and the
non-mashed beans. You want to continue boiling the soup until
excess water goes away and the soup is a thick stew.
always, serve the dish on individual plates over a small mountain
of rice per person.