Kenyan Maharagwe (Spiced Coconut Bean Soup)

Maharagwe is swahili’s name for beans and it is a famous meal served with ugali that comprises of red beans and onions cooked in a silky coconut milk sauce. Tomatoes add just the proper amount of acidity, and rich spices elevate this simple bean stew to a memorable flavor.

This Kenyan red bean soup, Maharagwe is hearty, tasty, and anti-inflammatory. While it contains a lot of spices and peppers, it’s not as spicy as you might imagine. The coconut milk significantly reduces the heat while also giving some healthy fat to aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidant-rich turmeric.

Maharagwe has an incredible flavor! Buttery beans float in a thick, creamy, spice-laden coconut milk and tomato broth. Serve the saucy beans with rice, flatbreads, or ugali, a Kenyan staple. If you keep the ingredients for maharagwe in your pantry, you can put a delicious supper on the table in under 30 minutes.



Kenyan Maharagwe

Kitchen Frau
Servings 4


  • cups cooked red kidney beans or other red beans 350 grams/1½ cups raw beans, soaked and cooked until tender or two 19 oz/540 gram cans of beans or three 14 oz/400 gram cans of beans*see below for how to cook the beans
  • 2 tablespoons oil peanut oil to be authentic
  • 2 medium onions chopped (2-2½ cups)
  • 1 jalapeño or other hot pepper seeded and minced (seeds left in if you prefer it spicy) or ¼-½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt + more to taste you may need more if using cooked beans
  • 1 can 14 oz/400ml diced tomatoes (or 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 can 14oz/400ml full-fat premium coconut milk (not light)
  • chopped cilantro for garnish optional
  • cooked rice flatbreads, or ugali (see recipe below) as an accompaniment to the beans


To cook raw beans

  • Pick the beans over to remove any bits of rock and broken beans. Cover with two inches of water and soak for 6 to 8 hours or longer. Drain the soaking water, place the beans in a large saucepan and cover with two inches of fresh water. Cook for 1 to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender and soft inside. The time will depend on the age and size of your beans. Allow the beans to cool in the cooking liquid to avoid split skins. Drain.
  • Drain and rinse the beans if using canned beans.

To make the Maharagwe

  • Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or skillet. Add the diced onions and hot pepper and cook for five minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, and salt, and cook for one minute more.
  • Add the drained beans to the onions, along with the tomatoes and their juices and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, until the coconut milk thickens a bit and the flavours meld. The level of the sauce should come up to just cover the beans. If there’s not enough liquid, add a bit of water and cook another minute or two. Taste the maharagwe, and add more salt if it needs it or more cayenne pepper if you’d like it spicier. The sauce will thicken more as it cools.
  • Serve maharagwe hot with cooked rice, ugali (recipe below), or with the flatbread of your choice (naan, pita, chapati, roti, tortillas, etc.) to scoop up the beans.
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Nympha Nzeribe
Hi there! I'm Nympha Chinenye Nzeribe, a writer and lifestyle enthusiast. Food consumption, has since the inception of time, been an inevitable part of our lives. Here, I commit to highlighting the history, uniqueness, and cooking realities of several dishes. Stay with me.

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