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Zoe’s Aboboi – Bambara Bean Stew • Black Foodie

Zoe Adjonyoh of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen shared her take on the beloved Ghanaian Aboboi, in our latest IG Takeover.

Zoe’s Aunty Cynthia always insisted on soaking the beans overnight, as seen in the takeover, but you can always save time by just boiling them in salted water, as the recipe calls for below.

This recipe can also be found in her latest book, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen.

A few of the recipe's ingredients laid out on a wooden table: one red bell pepper, two Romano peppers, two Rocket chillies, a cup of lardon, two overripe plantain, two small red onions, a bunch of fresh thyme, a container of dried bambara beans, and a bulb of garlic. By the ingredients is Zoe's cook book laid opened. 

Ingredients for Aboboi

  • 300g (10½oz) dried Bambara beans, or substitute dried chickpeas
  • 1 and a half red onions, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus extra to taste
  • 200g (7 oz.) Romano peppers, cored, de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 3–4 red rocket (Anaheim) chilies, roughly chopped 
  • 10g (¼oz) thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • 7.5cm (3-inch) piece fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • ½ tablespoon ground hot pepper, or substitute cayenne pepper, or  1 small red bird’s-eye chilli, deseeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon granulated or soft light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dried ground prawn/shrimp powder (optional – omit for a veggie version)

On a wooden table is placed two wooden cutting boards. Laid on one of them is a piece of fresh ginger, a few springs of fresh thyme, grains of Selim, a small container of salt and one of Dawadawa. By the cutting board is a container of dried Bambara beans, a measuring cup filled with water, and empty pot with its lid. At the bottom of the page is a Black woman's hand holding a small cutting knife.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)and line a baking tray with greaseproof/parchment paper.
  2. Place the beans in a heavy-based saucepan and cover with water (about 750ml or 1¼ pints). Add half of the chopped red onion and the salt and bring the water to a boil. Continue to boil the mixture, stirring regularly, for 2–3 minutes, skimming off any froth that rises to the surface.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1–2 hours or until the beans are just tender. Add a little extra water as required to the pan to prevent it from running dry.A pot containing Bambara beans, water and aromatics.
  4. While the beans are simmering, spread the peppers, chilies, and thyme out on the lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 25 minutes.
  5. Transfer the roasted peppers and chilies to a blender or food processor, add the remaining onions and the ginger, garlic and ground hot pepper and blitz until well blended. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any remaining bits, then add to the pan of beans along with the sugar and ground prawn/shrimp powder (if using).
  6. When most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated, you should be left with a rich, creamy bean stew. Adjust the seasoning to your taste at the end, then serve in a bowl with a light sprinkling of gari (fermented, dried and ground cassava).

TIP: The cooking times of dried beans can vary depending on how long they’ve been dried for so one batch can take 2 hours and another 3-4 hours – be prepared to wait if you’re not soaking them overnight.

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