Maharage Ya Nazi/ Kidney Beans in Coconut Milk

December 9, 2019mayurisjikoni
Blog post




Maharage ya nazi/ kidney beans in coconut milk is a popular Swahili dish which is made from kidney beans,  simple spices, tomatoes and coconut milk.  In the Kiswahili language maharage/maharagwe is kidney beans and nazi is coconut. Its may pleasure to  introduce to you  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. As a result, this led to the thought, but what can I make as I already have the more popular dishes like Ugali , 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 Mahamri 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  

In fact, 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

Because Indian Ocean Trade included spices, the Swahili people began using in their cuisine. The Swahili Cuisine uses locally available ingredients and spices. . 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.

Incidentally,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, The Arabs introduced Kahwa or black coffee with ginger, samosa, Pilau, kebabs, grilled meats. Grilled meat is popularly known as Nyama Choma (burnt meat). These 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 is a staple in the East African diet. Visit a typical Kenyan Market and you will definitely get confused which type of kidney beans to buy. From deep red ones, speckled ones, brown, green and yellow kidney beans are available. Ask any Kenyan and they will vouch that the ones they use at home are the best. Personally I love to use fresh red kidney beans whenever available. 

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  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

Ingredients Required For Maharage Ya Nazi/ Kidney Beans in Coconut Milk

  • Kidney Beans – red, green, yellow, brown, any of your choice. Can use fresh beans, canned or frozen ones too.
  • Onion – peeled and finely chopped
  • Tomato – chopped or pureed
  • Garlic – peeled and minced or finely chopped
  • Ginger – peeled and grated or crushed
  • Salt – add according to your taste.
  • Coconut Milk – I have used canned one.
  • Turmeric Powder – hardar, manjango
  • Coriander Powder – dhania powder
  • Pepper Powder – 
  • Oil– any vegetable oil of your choice
  • Water – amount required depends on how thin or thick you want the gravy
  • Fresh Coriander – chopped


maharage ya nazi 6

maharage ya nazi

maharage ya nazi 7

maharage ya nazi 8

maharage ya nazi 9




Maharage ya nazi/ kidney beans in coconut milk is a popular Swahili dish which is made from kidney beans, very simple spices, tomatoes and coconut milk. In the Kiswahili language maharage is red kidney beans and nazi is coconut. 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Soaking Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 25 minutes
Course Main Course, Main Meal
Cuisine Kenyan
Servings 4


  • 1 cup dried 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 fresh coriander chopped


  • Soak the dried beans in warm water overnight or for 6-8 hours.
  • 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.
  • If you want to boil them in a pan, add enough water and let the beans simmer till done.
  • Drain out excess water from the cooked beans and leave it on the side.
  • Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
  • Add chopped onion and stir fry till it becomes soft and translucent.
  • Add ginger and garlic paste and stir fry for a few seconds.
  • Add the powder spices and the tomato puree.
  • Cook till the tomato puree is thick and not watery.
  • Add salt and the beans. Mix well.
  • Add 1 cup water (the saved one) and let the beans simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add coconut milk and let the maharage simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  • 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, collard greens, kale are added.
Keyword kidney beans in coconut milk, Kenyan style, maharage ya nazi recipe, maharagwe ya nazi


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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.

  • Tradologie

    May 19, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    Nice Article! Red Kidney Beans nutritionally consists of optimum levels of carbohydrates, dietary fibers, and proteins, along with Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper, and other essential factors.

  • Azlin Bloor

    June 11, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    5 stars
    Such a wonderful write up, Mayuri. Now I didn’t know that the equator runs through Kenya – learning more than just the recipe with rthis Kenyan series you are running! I just love this Kenyan kidney beans recipe, and looking forward to making it.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      June 11, 2021 at 3:12 pm

      Thank you so much Azlin, a trip to the Rift Valley also presented an opportunity to stand by the board which states :the equator passes here.

  • Emerald Green

    March 21, 2022 at 2:16 am

    Hello, thanks for recipe? Im looking to cook in my slow cooker or crockpot, any tips? Planning to serve with laini chapati!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      March 21, 2022 at 5:18 pm

      Hello Emerald Green, as I’ve not used a slow cooker or crockpot, as such don’t have any tips. Am sure whatever tips you use for cooking other beans would apply here.

  • Kenya for Kids – Kids Food Atlas

    April 28, 2022 at 4:35 pm

    […] typically eat lunch from 12 – 2 pm. Stews like githeri (with corn and kidney beans) or maharagwe (kidney beans in coconut milk) are popular for lunch and […]

  • Mar

    October 14, 2022 at 10:59 am

    Can I use soy milk instead of coconut milk?

    1. mayurisjikoni

      October 17, 2022 at 9:27 am

      The flavour of coconut milk is unique and makes the curry more flavourful. I guess you could try. Personally, I don’t I would like to use soy milk for it.

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