It’s July, and we’re visiting Kenya this month! Usually when I think of Kenyan food, it’s some kind of stew, but it is summertime and I wanted something to serve that is light and refreshing. I came up with a twist on a traditional Kenyan corn and bean stew called “Githeri” by turning it into a salad.
Githeri is easy to make, and conveniently is vegetarian and vegan as well. I’ve prepared my salad version two ways, one which includes grilled prawns on top in case you’d like this dish to be the star of the show.
I’ve also included a “no-recipe recipe” for “Kachumbari,” which is a traditional Kenyan salad or salsa using the simple ingredients of tomatoes and onions. Kachumbari is a great way to use the ripe, juicy tomatoes of July.
You’ll find other recipes on our website (under the “learn” tab, go to recipes, Kenya, in case you didn’t know). In particular, this recipe for Avocado Soup sounds like it would be perfect to include with the Githeri salad. And for dessert, why not try the recipe for Mango Coconut Faluda? Or you could keep it simple and serve some mango ice cream.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me if you have any comments or questions about the recipes at email@example.com.
Kenyan Bean and Corn Salad (Githeri) (Tested)
Serves 4 to 6
“Githeri” (guh-theory) is a traditional Kenyan one-pot meal. The basic version simply combines maize (boiled corn) with beans, a bit of onion, and usually curry powder, served hot. The dish has evolved over time to include meat, tomatoes, and sometimes potatoes. School children all over Kenya are familiar with this dish as part of the school cafeteria menu.
I thought I would take it one step further and turn this combination into a winning salad for summertime. As you can see pictured above, I first made this dish without the addition of prawns, and I was mighty happy with it. It works well that way as part of a larger menu.
But if you want to serve your Githeri as a main course, like I did, simply grill or boil some prawns to lay on top. Three of us ate the entire platter! And I’ve been instructed to keep this one in heavy rotation throughout the summer.
Githeri is easy to put together, and you can really use any kind of beans you like. I used Domingo Rojo beans, from Rancho Gordo (a type of pinto bean). I would recommend any type of red bean, pinto bean, cranberry bean, or black bean for this dish. You can easily cook the beans the day before. In fact, I would say that you can make the entire salad one day ahead of time if necessary, and then dress the salad about ½ hour before you plan to serve it. (Note: I always prefer freshly cooked beans, but good quality canned beans are also fine.)
In a pinch you could use two cups of frozen corn instead of stripping the kernels off the cob. But this recipe is coming at you during the height of corn season in July! Please go to the extra step of preparing the corn yourself. I also went to the additional step of blanching my corn. I brought a pot of water to a boil, then dumped the corn kernels into the pot. I then immediately strained the corn and laid it out on a sheet pan to cool. This step may not be necessary with really fresh corn in July, so taste your corn first and see if you like it raw. If not, giving it that very quick blanch will soften it just the tiniest bit.
3 cups cooked beans (from 1 cup dry beans), or 2 (15 oz.) cans, drained and rinsed
2 cups corn, removed from the cob (3 to 5 ears depending on size)
1 bell pepper, any color, diced, about 1 cup
1/3 cup red onion, diced
½ cup chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems OK
OPTIONAL: prawns, grilled or boiled, use your favorite method
¼ cup lime juice, from 1-2 limes
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. kosher salt, or 1 tsp. fine salt
1 tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. ground ginger
1/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
Grab a large mixing bowl and add the beans, corn, bell pepper, red onion, and cilantro.
To make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl add the lime juice, garlic, salt, curry powder and ginger. Drizzle the oil into the bowl in a slow, steady stream, whisking with a fork, to emulsify the ingredients. It will look slightly thickened instead of separated.
Add the vinaigrette to the salad bowl, mix, and taste for seasoning. It may need more salt or lime juice. You want to be able to taste the lime because the beans will soak up quite a bit of the flavor, so adjust accordingly.
Top with grilled prawns, if desired.
Pro tip: If you are using prawns, make a little extra vinaigrette and save out a couple tablespoons to marinate the prawns.
Recipe and photo credit: Linda McElroy