BEANS (THE LEGUME) : IDEA BEHIND COOKING AND EATING IT.

Bean is the edible seed from the plant of the taxonomic family Fabaceae which produces large edible seeds or edible seedpods. This earliest cultivated plant belongs to the large group of leguminous vegetables that serve as a main source of proteins in human diet. The group comprises of several species like: Adzuki bean (Vigna angularis); Broad bean (Vicia faba); Cluster bean (Cyamposis tetragonoloba); French bean (Phaseolus vulgaris).

Various cooking techniques can be applied when cooking beans which includes: boiling, frying, and baking.

In Nigeria, we have the Black-eyed peas scientifically, known as Vigna unguiculata , popularly known as honey beans actually one of the most famous beans found around because of its distinct taste. There are so many twists to how the legume, beans is cooked. In the actual setting it is picked, washed and cooked to perfection. Some people suffer flatulence and bloating or heartburn after consuming beans. A school of thought believe soaking beans for like an hour before cooking reduces the flatulence.

THE PREPARATION AND COOKING

My mum for example will after picking and washing beans boil for about 10—15 minutes. The water upon boiling becomes really dark in colour this is discarded. However, on another stove top water is placed in a kettle to boil. When the dirty water (which usually contain residue of the fertilizer and chemicals used to preserve it from the farm or storage) is sieved out and transfer back to the pot the already boiling water is added to prevent the temperature from dropping the cooking process continues instantly.

Alternatively, because of advancement in technology and how we tend to use appliances to get our food cooked really fast. If using a pressure cooker I’ll advise you boil first, discard the water and transfer to the pressure pot for further cooking.

My earliest stage in life and the first time experiencing the kitchen ambience was all without the exception of my mum. I learnt how to cook first from my mum the process I shared above is the method she passed down to me and I can’t be more grateful. Some would in the process of cooking add, kaun (potash) or baking soda / powder to soften the beans — use if you must but, I tell you not for once I’ve I had the cause to. I love food even upon cooking retaining their natural beauty and nutrient without altering anything.

Peppers, Onions, palm oil and other condiments are added when cooking beans e.g Ewa Riro or Ghanaian Red Red. Coconut milk, green bell peppers, tomatoes amongst other ingredients is used to make Maharagwe beans. The cooking and eating of beans have been tweaked over the years with the addition of meat and fish by recipe creators.
Originally, beans is cooked alone without the addition of meat, fish or tuber crop. The idea behind this inclusion is unexplainable but however, menu or recipe creation still boils down to what people preferences are and the inspiration behind such innovation. In my house, the idea of cooking beans alone just never works. My dad in particular, loves adding starchy foods like: yam, potato and other tuber crops to beans.

BELIEFS, RITES AND VALUES

Traditionally, beans signifies so many things to different people to some it is a food for twins (Èjìré ará ìsokùn as the Yoruba’s in South West Nigeria say), it is one of the meals prepared regularly by families who have twins it is a ritual where beans is cooked, other food items used are: Àádùn (a savory snack of Yoruba origin made from roasted corn flour, palm oil and spices), Sugarcane, etc.
In some cases, it signifies purity or holiness — beans is held in high esteem and will often come up in menu during the ecclesiastical period preceding Easter, known as the Holy Week observed mostly by Christians who attend Catholic and other Orthodox churches. Beans dishes like Fredjon (coconut milk bean soup) is prepared and eaten on Good Friday.

Beans is prepared differently across regions from using it for Ewa Riro or Ghanaian Red Red (stewed black-eyed beans) in places like Nigeria and Ghana, Ewa Agonyin/Aganyin (which is another mashed style of beans but the sauce is made differently), Ghanaian Waakye, Maharagwe Beans that originates in Kenya, Chakalaka sauce in South Africa and Frejon which is commonly eaten in countries like: Brazil, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. For individuals who are on a plant based diet beans is as well used to make Frejon, Moimoi, Akara and Gbegiri.

Note: This is equally enjoyed by people who don’t identify as vegan.

THE EATING

The idea behind its consumption stems from pairing the cooked leguminous plant with a carbohydrate be it root or tuber. It is equally enjoyed alone with sauces like: aganyin sauce, shito sauce and any other pepper sauce. In recent times, if not over the years some people have claimed to enjoy eating beans with the addition of sugar.

In Nigeria and places like Ghana, garri is added to mashed beans or red red. It is often enjoyed this way and it comes handy. This is a dish that has remained cost-effective even though, inflation has taken over food prices it is still affordable by the majority.
In other places like, Brazil and South Africa where Frejon and Chakalaka sauce is eaten respectively you find Frejon being paired with garri while, Chakalaka being eaten with bread slices, pasta or rice. Also, you find people eat ewa aganyin with soft baked agege bread, boiled yam or potatoes, fried or boiled plantain etc.

Our food culture and history across Africa are intertwined and it reflects on how we prepare our food. The pedestal we place food in this part of the world needs to be studied as a full course. As innovation and research keep happening on a daily, the list is getting endless on what you can create or pair the delectable legume with.

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Published by Temitopedancer

My name is ÌyanuOlúwa Fágbiyè Tèmítọ́pẹ́ (Pen name: temitopedancer) I am the founder and team lead at My Cookery Zone. I'm an Anthropologist, multimedia Journalist / broadcaster, food blo gger, and food writer.

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