I have loved Bambara groundnut and Plantains ever since my mind could distinguish between Gob3 ( boiled Black-eyed beans and plantain) and Bambara groundnut. I knew I preferred one over the other. It was a Sunday favourite in my mother's house and I will never forget how impatient I would get for the plantains to be ready for us to dig in. Unfortunately, just like boiled black-eyed beans, Bambara groundnut had a knack for knocking me out right after eating due to it's dense and very creamy texture. But it was Sunday so I got a pass for an afternoon nap.
How can you prepare Bambara beans to get that creamy texture you so often see being sold by the street vendors? Read on...
1. Soak the nuts overnight
Bambara beans/groundnut has a tough outer shell which takes a whole while to break down to reach edible status. Skipping this step means you are going to waste a lot of cooking gas cooking the beans and even when it finally cooks, it's not as soft as you'd want it. This is a painful experience 🙈 so don't skip out. Always soak the Bambara beans a night before you cook them to hydrate the beans and shorten the cooking cycle.
2. A pinch of Salt Petre
Kanwe or salt petre ( potassium nitrate) is one of the easy ways to break down the outer shell of Bambara beans even after soaking overnight. Salt petre is also a thickening agent which gives the Bambara beans the creamy texture as the beans breaks down. However, use it in moderation by dissolving a few grains of it in water before adding it to the cooking beans.
3. Flavour it Up
Add cayenne pepper to the beans whilst it's cooking for a flavour and spice boost. A teaspoon is usually enough when cooking for three. Half-teaspoon of salt is sufficient as well. Hwentia (Grains of Selim) or star anise are a couple of local spices to add to Bambara Beans to give it a pungent or liquorice flavour.
4. Gentle Stirring
Gently stir the beans whilst it cooks and crush a few against the sides of the saucepan as you stir. This gives the beans a mixed texture of whole and crushed beans.
These tips always work like magic to give you the perfect Bambara beans to relish with fried plantains or any side of your choosing. Personally, I have always added a spoonful of sugar to the beans to bring together the happiness of spicy and sweet flavours. There's no better taste than this!
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