Sunday, 2 January 2011

Rice and Beans (Wali Maharage)

This is roughly based on East African flavours.  And is flexible enough to be adapted to what you have on hand.  For instance, we almost always have carrots in ours, which would not be traditional.  We eat this once or twice a week.  It is inexpensive, yet full of flavour and protein.  For a heartier meal, this can be served with spicy fried prawns (shrimp) or some grilled meat.  In Tanzania this might be eaten with your hands, but you can use a spoon!

For the Rice:

The rule in our house, according to my Other Half, is that the rice needs to be basmati and preferably Tilda brand.  (I prefer brown rice, but we have to compromise on occasion).  You can actually serve the beans with plain rice of any type if you prefer.  But we always like to spice things up a bit.

  1. Measure out your rice per person and rinse in a sieve or bowl of cold water. 
  2. Boil your kettle.
  3. Toast your spices in a dry saucepan for a few minutes.  Choose any combination of the following: 3-4 cloves, 3-4 cardamon pods, chunk cinnamon bark, some cumin seeds.  We usually stick to two spices. The spices should start smelling nice, but not burn.
  4. Add the rice and boiled water.  Cook rice according to the package instructions. Some people add extra water and sieve later.  Some people follow the package instructions and measure the exact amount of water, which is then absorbed by the rice.   
  5. If you are feeding this rice to children, try to remove the spices from the rice or their portions.  You can warn the adults there are spices in the dish.

For the Beans:

Tin of beans, (any kind, but we love pinto beans), rinsed and drained
small tin of chopped tomatoes, or 2-3 small fresh ones
1/2 tin coconut milk
sweet/bell pepper
hot chilli (optional--since I don't like chilli, we leave it out and people can add hot sauce afterwards)

You can add other vegetables if you like.  We like mushrooms or green beans in this dish as well when we have them or they need using up!

  1. Chop the onion and fry in a saucepan in a little bit of oil.  When soft, add chopped carrot and pepper, and any other vegetables, including chilli, if using.  Fry for 3-5 minutes to soften the vegetables.
  2. Add the beans and the small tin of tomatoes with their juice and continue to cook over medium heat for ten minutes.
  3. Add about half a tin of coconut milk and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, just to heat through.  If you heat the coconut milk too long it will separate.
  4. The vegetables and beans should be both hot and tender.
  5. Serve with rice.
  6. This keeps well for the next day as well. (Cook once, eat twice!)


  1. Cooked this tonight for my dinner, it was so tasty and I've got some left for tomorrow. I didnt realise it was so easy to flavour rice. I used Pinto beans but they were dried ones, soaked overnight, not sure if that made a difference to the taste.

  2. I am so glad that you enjoyed the dish. You can of course, use dried beans. They are traditional and they make the dish cheaper too!