Maharage Ya Nazi/ Kidney Beans in Coconut Milk

December 9, 2019mayurisjikoni




Maharage ya nazi is a popular Swahili dish which is made from red kidney beans, very simple spices, tomatoes and coconut milk. In the Kiswahili language maharage is red kidney beans and nazi is coconut. However, you must be wondering why I’m introducing you to the Swahili dish Maharage Ya Nazi or Kidney Beans in Coconut Milk. Well, read on and you’ll find out why that was cooked in my kitchen today.


Group Theme

For this week the FoodieMonday/Bloghop Group theme was suggested by Kalyani who blogs at Sizzling Tastebuds. The theme was Due South. In other words, Kalyani wanted us to cook a dish from any of the countries that are in the Southern Hemisphere. To illustrate specifically you may want to check out some her recipes from the Southern Hemisphere like the  Ecuadorian Quinoa Vegetable Stew or the Colombian Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Mango.

Basically the earth is divided into two parts horizontally, countries above the Equator fall in the Northern Hemisphere and countries below the Equator fall in the Southern Hemisphere. 32 countries come under the Southern Hemisphere. For this theme I targeted, South Africa, Australia and Fiji. However, the whole of last week I was in Mumbai and couldn’t cook anything. I had researched the recipes I would have loved to try out. I thought I’d be able to cook on Sunday but flight delay meant we got home in the evening. Exhausted, I was in no mood to cook but I didn’t want to skip this week’s theme. Hubby asked what I’d be cooking on Monday for lunch and that’s when I realized that why not cook something simple but nutritious from my own country.


How did I choose the dish?

Okay please don’t be up in arms that Kenya is not included in the Southern Hemisphere, but in fact it is. The Equator divides Kenya into half, placing it in both hemispheres. This led to the thought, but what can I make as I already have the more popular dishes like Ugali with chicha, Irio, and Githeri on the blog. Subsequently, came the thought of making something from the cuisine that is literally at my doorstep, The Swahili Cuisine. The most popular dish from that cuisine is Mamri which goes so well with Mbaazi (pigeon peas in coconut milk). However, its also enjoyed with stews made in coconut milk, tea or kahawa.


Swahili Community  

The Swahili people originate from Bantu inhabitants of the coast of Southeast Africa, that is present day Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Mozambique. These Bantu speaking agriculturists settled around the coast during the first millennium. Around the 8th Century they engaged in the Indian Ocean Trade. Interaction with the Arabs, Persians, Indians and Chinese led to their culture being influenced by the traders. Around the 10th century, Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi, a Persian prince of Shiraz founded the Kilwa Sultanate in the island of Kilwa (near present day Tanzania). In 1277 the Sultanate was replaced by the Arab family of Abu Moaheb who ruled the coastal regions till they were invaded by the Portuguese in 1505. The Bantu people around the coastal areas inter married and also adapted a part of the Persian and Arab culture. This interaction contributed in part to the evolution of the Swahili Culture, which developed its own written language, Kiswahili.  Incidentally, name Swahili comes from the Arabic word Sawahil which means coast. Due to the influence of both the Persians and Arabs, the coastal Bantu people adopted Islam as their religion. On observing the art and craft, architecture and food of the Swahili people one can’t help but notice the influence by the Persians, Arabs, Indians and Chinese.


Swahili Cuisine

Indian Ocean Trade included spices which the Swahili people began using in their cuisine. The Swahili Cuisine uses locally available ingredients that are used by the rest of the inhabitants of the region but the taste varies because of the use spices like ginger, turmeric, coriander, pepper, cinnamon and cardamom. By the virtue of being around the coastal area, coconut and coconut milk is a common ingredient in their cuisine. Meat, chicken, fish, beans and vegetables are all cooked in coconut milk or maziwa ya nazi. Mombasa Mix or Zanzibar Mix is a popular street food which has the Swahili and Indian influence. Kaimati, is a  sweet dish introduced by the Arab world (similar to luqaimat).Viazi Karai is so similar to bateta vada. Kachri Bateta is a popular street food that has both the Swahili and Indian influence.  Tea introduced by the Chinese, Masala chai and Chappati or Chappo by the Indians, Kahwa or black coffee with ginger, samosa, Pilau, kebabs, grilled meats by the Arabs,  which is popularly known as Nyama Choma (burnt meat) all indicate influences from trader communities that passed through the SE coastal regions of Africa. If you ever visit any of these coastal regions of Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar or Madagascar you must try out the Swahili Cuisine.



Kidney beans or red beans is a staple in the East African diet. The Swahili like to add some spices and coconut milk to make it into a mildly spiced dish which is usually served with plain rice, coconut rice, chapati (roti) or ugali. At a glance you may think its like the popular  Indian Rajma but the difference between the Indian style rajma and Swahili style Maharage ya Nazi is that its not heavily spiced, does not use whole spices, there is no vaghar or tempering. One can use dried beans or fresh red beans when available in season. Dried beans have to be soaked for 6-8 hours in warm water and then cooked till done. The mchuzi or gravy can be thick or thin, depending on your taste. Usually, the poor families will make it watery so that is enough for the family. These days ready made mchuzi mix is available in the market making it easier to make maharage ya nazi. Well, its time to check out the easy, mildly spiced recipe for this healthy, gluten free and vegan dish. I chose to serve it with rice as I didn’t have maize meal to make ugali.

Dietary Tips:

  • Its vegan friendly
  • Its gluten free
  • For Satvik friendly version omit onion and garlic
  • Protein rich

maharage ya nazi 6

maharage ya nazi

maharage ya nazi 7

maharage ya nazi 8

maharage ya nazi 9


4 Servings

1 cup dried red kidney beans (maharage)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tbsp oil

½ cup fresh tomato puree

1-1¼ tsp salt

1 cup coconut milk

1-2 cups water

½ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)

1 tsp coriander powder

½ tsp pepper powder

2-3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

  1. Soak the dried beans in warm water overnight or for 6-8 hours.
  2. Drain out the water, wash the beans and put them in a pressure cooker with about 2-3 cups of water. Let the beans cook for 3-4 whistles or till soft.
  3. If you want to boil them in a pan, add enough water and let the beans simmer till done.
  4. Drain out excess water from the cooked beans and leave it on the side.
  5. Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
  6. Add chopped onion and stir fry till it becomes soft and translucent.
  7. Add ginger and garlic paste and stir fry for a few seconds.
  8. Add the powder spices and the tomato puree.
  9. Cook till the tomato puree is thick and not watery.
  10. Add salt and the beans. Mix well.
  11. Add 1 cup water (the saved one) and let the beans simmer for 5 minutes.
  12. Add coconut milk and let the maharage simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  13. Add chopped coriander, mix well and serve hot maharage ya nazi with rice, ugali or chapati.


  • If you get fresh red kidney beans then cook them first in water till soft and done.
  • You can use canned kidney beans.
  • Some Swahili families do love hot chili food, so you can add green chilis or red chili powder.
  • The other way to enjoy maharage is to cook it without coconut milk. Replace the coconut milk with water.
  • You can add more coconut milk if you wish instead of the 1 cup of water.
  • To make maharage ya nazi more wholesome, sometimes ingredients like potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, plantains, chopped leafy greens like spinach, amaranth or Swiss chard are added.

Pin for Later:

maharage ya nazi

A little request:

If you do try this recipe then please either

  • add a comment below,
  • send a picture to my email
  •  tag me as #mayuri_jikoni on Instagram
  • or tag me on Twitter as #Mayuri1962




  • poonampagar

    December 9, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Kidney beans curry on coconut milk sounds interesting to me ! We love rajma and would love to try out this dish asa variation. Loved your beautiful presentation here !

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 10, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      Thank you so much Poonam and hope you will try the recipe out soon.

  • The Girl Next Door

    December 10, 2019 at 9:06 am

    Wow, this sounds so very flavourful and delightful! Love this new way of cooking rajma. 🙂 I’m sure my family will like this, so will be trying it out shortly.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 10, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      Thank you so much Priya, when you do please send me a feedback.

  • Batter Up With Sujata

    December 10, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    Red kidney beans with coconut milk looks tempting. Loved the colour of the gravy. I would love to have it with hot steamed rice. I will surely try it sometime.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 10, 2019 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks Sujata and please give me a feedback when you do.

      1. Batter Up With Sujata

        December 10, 2019 at 4:53 pm

        Sure Mayuri!

  • greenbowl2soulgmailcom

    December 10, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    This combination of kidney beans and coconut milk is so interesting and unique. I have never tried Swahili cuisine before but will start with this recipe.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 11, 2019 at 6:10 pm

      Thank you so much Vandana, please give me feedback as to how it turns out for you.

  • shobhakeshwani

    December 11, 2019 at 2:11 am

    This recipe sounds interesting .. rajma cooked with coconut milk. I am sure the taste must be really nice. I love trying out various cuisines.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 11, 2019 at 6:09 pm

      Hope you will try out the recipe Shobha, thank you so much.

  • FoodTrails

    December 11, 2019 at 5:23 am

    Rajma beans cooked in coconut milk sounds very interesting.. pics are too tempting and will love to try out rajma this way with nutty coconut flavor. Good info on Swahili community and their cuisine.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 11, 2019 at 6:09 pm

      Thank you so much Swaty.

  • MJ

    December 11, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    This is making me wish for it now. Kidney beans are my all time favourite. When I used to be ill in Kenya and lost my appetite, my mum would make a similar kidney bean curry to tempt me to eat. I used to love it with the bread from the bakery.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 11, 2019 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks Mina, its a good idea to have it with bread. You can make it easily, just used canned red kidney beans and ready made coconut milk.

  • jayashreetrao

    December 14, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Looks so delicious and liked the addition of coconut milk in it, must have given a nice flavour to the dish. Yummy share.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 14, 2019 at 7:42 pm

      Thank you so much Jayashree, you’re right the coconut does add a nice flavour.

  • preethi76

    December 15, 2019 at 5:09 am

    Red kidney bean cooked in coconut milk looks absolutely lip smacking. Great insight into the Swahili culture and cuisine. Thank you for the detailed insight and recipe.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      December 15, 2019 at 11:01 am

      Thank you so much Preethi andd you’re welcome.

  • namscorner18

    January 3, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    Wow.. it is absolute delight. I always love adding coconut milk to dishes and it makes the dish so delicious. Loved reading about swahili community and cuisine.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      January 3, 2020 at 7:35 pm

      Thank you so much Narmadha.

  • Chef Mireille

    June 5, 2020 at 3:22 am

    love anything in coconut milk and I found it very interesting to read about all of the cultural notes you included.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 5, 2020 at 11:17 pm

      Thank you so much Mireille.

  • Renu

    June 11, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    I cook kidney beans our typical style using tomato gravy, never made it in coconut milk. The milk has added so much richness and creaminess to the dish. So perfect with that hot steamy rice. I love that bowl in which you have served the gravy.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 11, 2020 at 11:05 pm

      Thank you so much Renu, the bowl is made from coconut, got it from Bali.

  • Archana

    July 30, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    I am bookmarking this delicious recipe not only for the recipe but for the rich history you have shared. I loved the coconut shell bowl it is I believe what you use in Kenya.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      July 30, 2020 at 9:16 pm

      Thank you so much Archana. The coconut bowl is from Bali. Here, hardly anyone uses it anymore.

  • Seema Sriram

    October 18, 2020 at 10:14 am

    Whenever I am on your blog, I tend to gravitate towards this unique section. Lovelove love the recipe and the spoon in the image.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      October 18, 2020 at 9:21 pm

      Thank you so much Seema. The spoon is handcrafted by local women in Kenya.

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