Vegan black-eyed bean stew has been a staple in our household. Being another popular West-African meal, my mum used to make it for our family regularly.
Just when I thought I was spoilt in Australia, I went back to Ghana in 2005, and this recipe was taken to another level!In Ghana, they call black-eyed bean stew red-red. It gets the red colour from the red palm oil they use, which is easily accessible.
It’s a common street food that is typically made with meat, fish and ripe fried plantains. It’s a delicious meal and certainly one that triggers fond memories of my childhood.
However, since becoming vegan three years ago, I’ve had to make some changes to this recipe.
First of all, I took away the palm oil. I acknowledge that palm oil is affordable in West Africa, but with the harm, it does to wildlife, I opt not to use it.
I also leave the meat out of the recipe altogether. Black-eyed beans are a dense bean and are “meaty” in their own right.
Lastly, with limited access to plantains where we live, we’ll eat this stew with any simple carbohydrates whether it’s rice, potatoes, yams or quinoa.
Although, if you can get your hands on plantains, please do use them, as the combination with the stew is a match made in heaven!
Warning—this is deep-fried goodness, so probably best to have on occasion. Here’s a video on how to make fried plantains (called Kelewle):
What are black-eyed beans?
Black-eyed beans, also known as black-eyed peas, or cowpeas, depending on where you are in the world, are part of the legume family.
When you first look at these little beans, they look like little eyeballs, and I’m guessing that’s how it derived its name.
Historians believe blacked-eyed beans were first domesticated in West Africa—hence why it’s such a popular ingredient in Ghana.
Where can you buy black-eyed peas?
Black-eyed beans are usually accessible in supermarkets both dry in a packet or soaked in a can.
Other options include your local bulk foods store or Asian grocer.
In this recipe, we use dry beans sourced from our bulk foods store. We do this to limit our plastic waste. We also try to avoid canned beans where possible as they tend to have a lot of sodium—but it doesn’t always work out that way.
Keep in mind that if you do get dry beans, it’s best to soak them overnight and pre-cook them in boiling water before adding them to the sauce.
Different ways to serve black-eyed bean stew
I briefly touched on this before, but these are some common ways you can serve this recipe:
- We typically have this stew served on a bed of white rice. But you can use any grain.
- The most popular companion in Ghana is with fried plantain.
- You can also serve the stew with starchy root vegetables including potatoes, yams, boiled plantain bananas.
Are black-eyed beans freezer-friendly?
Absolutely! You can easily cook the bean stew in bulk and freeze it to eat later. You can also make and freeze the tomato base separately, and add beans to it later.
I should also mention that this stew is fantastic to take to work with some rice. You can heat your meal before you leave for the day and put it in a thermos, or you can reheat the stew in a microwave.