Maharage (Tanzanian Kidney Beans in Coconut Milk)

Maharage is a popular staple food in both Kenya and Tanzania. That explains why Maharage sometimes is called Kenyan and sometimes Tanzanian. In either case though, it is a very simple dish made primarily out of beans.

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Easy, budget and delicious: Maharage from the Swahili region in Eastern Africa.

Maharage simply means ‘beans’ in Swahili and the dish is popular throughout the entire region. The beans they most often use for this dish are kidney beans. In English these beans got their name for the resemblance with kidneys, both in color and in shape.

And they sure know how to work their kidney beans on the Eastern shore of Africa. The structure is like a curry, so you can eat it with either rice, ugali or any type of bread you like.

Maharage is as rich in flavor as it is in color. Yet, it’s not difficult to prepare at all and although it depends a bit on what country you live in, for most of us it will fall into the category ‘budget option’ as well.

Kitchen utensils

  • Wok (or big sauce pan)


For 2-3 servings as a side dish

Tomato, cilantro, turmeric, black pepper, coconut milk, garlic, ginger, green chili, onion and salt are the ingredients for Maharage
  • 1 cup (250 grams) of kidney beans, soaked
  • 125 ml (½ cup) of coconut milk
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped up
  • 1 onion, chopped up
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon coriander (cilantro) seeds
  • 1 green chili
  • ½ inch (1 cm) ginger, chopped up
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped up
  • 1 bunch of cilantro

How to make Maharage

  1. Soak the kidney beans for at least 6 hours (longer is fine).

  2. Rinse the kidney beans and boil them in ample water for about 30 minutes.

  3. Chop up the onion, 1 green chili, ½ inch of ginger and 2 cloves of garlic.

If you’re a cilantro aficionado, chop up the stems and add these together with the garlic, ginger and green chili to the curry.

  1. Heat a bit of vegetable oil in a pan.

  2. When hot, add the onion and stir.

  3. Meanwhile, chop up the tomatoes in very small cubes.

  4. If the onion becomes translucent, add the ginger, garlic and green chili. Stir well and after 30 seconds, also add the spices (turmeric, salt, cardamom and coriander seeds). Stir for a minute more.
    If the pan becomes too hot, add a splash of water.

  5. After 1 minute add the tomato cubes and stir well.

  6. If most of the liquid has vaporized and the mixture becomes a paste, add the coconut milk.

  7. Heat up the coconut milk and stir well for a few minutes. Meanwhile, chop up the cilantro.
    If it gets too thick, just add a bit of water.
  1. Rinse the kidney beans and add them to the pan. Let simmer for a few minutes.

Serve with bread or rice and garnish with cilantro.

As rich in flavors as it is colorful.


Recipe: Maharage
Country: Kenya, Tanzania
6 hrs.
Prep: 5 min.
35 min.
40 min.
kidney beans, onion, tomato, coconut milk, salt, turmeric, cardamom, coriander seed, green chili, cilantro, ginger
Type of meal: main dish, side dish

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