Kitheri - Kenyan Vegetable Stew

Just like the Italians have different Bruschetta for every region in Italy, so do the Kenyans have for Kitheri. The key to making a good Kitheri is allowing sufficient time for the stew to simmer. This recipe is actually from my sister in law, Lucy Mwangi who is from Kenya. I had made several trips to Kenya, often asked for local Kitheri and always wondered about the ingredients. When I asked the chefs (dying to know the magic ingredients) they usually said after a long pause: "oh this and that, whatever is in season" etc. Then one day we were invited to our brother's house and Lucy cooked Kitheri, the best I had had in a long time. And of course she had the recipe. The only thing I can't seem to find (to make the Kitheri authentic) is the big, tough sweetcorn used in Eastern Africa. It is not like the sweet sweetcorn we buy frozen or tinned as it has lesser taste, is quite tough and a lot larger than regular sweetcorn. Just use the cheapest sweetcorn you can find (without added sugar of course) and you should be able come as close to the authentic Kitheri as possible.


Every time I visit East Africa I always ask for the local Kitheri

This recipe is:

  • Egg free
  • Gluten free
  • Lactose (dairy) free
  • Nut free
  • Vegan

Kitheri - Kenyan Vegetable Stew

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 500 grams (17½ oz) tinned kidney beans (weight when drained)
  • 3 potatoes, cooked and chopped coarsely
  • 3 carrots, chopped coarsely
  • 1 onion, chopped fairly finely
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 pepper (red), chopped fairly coarsely
  • Half a pepper (green), chopped fairly coarsely
  • 1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise and chopped fairly coarsely
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 350 grams (12½ oz) sweetcorn (the hardest you can find!)
  • 200 grams (7 oz) chopped tomatoes (fresh or tinned)
  • 1½ yeast free vegetable stock cube

Preparation

  1. Drain the kidney beans.
  2. Wash the 3 potatoes and place in a small saucepan. Fill with water and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes become tender. Drain the potatoes, cool, peel and chop coarsely (3-4 pieces each).
  3. Peel the 3 carrots and chop fairly coarsely (less than bite size).
  4. Peel the onion and chop fairly finely.
  5. Chop the handful coriander leaves finely.
  6. Halve the peppers, discard the stem and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Chop fairly coarsely.
  7. Slice the zucchini lengthwise and chop fairly coarsely.
  8. Now heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large frying pan (or saucepan).
  9. Heat the chopped onion for 5 minutes. Add a couple of tablespoons water to the frying pan if needed.
  10. Add potatoes and carrots and heat for 10 minutes.
  11. Add peppers, and zucchini and heat for 5 minutes.
  12. Add the 200 grams chopped tomatoes and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  13. Add the 1½ vegetable stock cube, 350 grams sweetcorn and 500 grams kidney beans. Add a splash of water if the stew seems too dry (it should not stick to the bottom of the pan).
  14. Add the handful fresh coriander.
  15. Now, let the stew simmer, with the lid on over medium heat for 30-40 minutes.
  16. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for a further 20 minutes or longer. The stew should now "blend together" i.e. everything will become soft and kind of mushy (the way stews should be).
  17. Serve with chapati bread.

Tips

  • If the coconut oil is cold (in which case it becomes solid), place the jar in a bowl filled with hot water for a couple of minutes. 
  • You can use other vegetables and beans in this stew instead of the ones listed. You can try navy beans, pinto beans, celery, egg plant, leeks and more.