All About Beans, Vegan, Vegan Main Dishes, Vegan on a Shoestring

Kenyan Beans and Soft Maize Meal (Polenta)

This is the daily food of Marathon Runners …no… Marathon Winners!

I listened to a radio programme the other day about a UK athlete who went to train with the Kenyans.  He couldn’t believe the diet they trained on: Maize (polenta) and Beans.  And Tea.

He said he used to pop into town and buy jars of peanut butter to supplement his own diet, because he couldn’t cope!

I found this story very inspiring, so I concocted a recipe (based on traditional Kenyan recipes), of Spicy Red Beans and Soft Polenta.

spicy red beans with soft maize meal

The simple fact is, that what we, in the West, have come to call “Vegan Food’, is, most of the globe over, just food.  Simple ordinary sustaining, nutritious food.

I love beans, there are so many varieties and they are so versatile.  Slowly, as this blog progresses, I am discovering that there are bean dishes from nearly every country across the planet. And I intend to find them all!

Spicy Red Beans and Soft Maize Meal



Spicy Red Beans and Soft Maize Meal.

Ample for 2


Bean Stew:

  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 medium white/or yellow onions
  • 350gms. pre-cooked red beans ( I used small kidney beans)
  • 250gms. tomatoes
  • 50gms. tomato puree
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4cm. stick fresh ginger
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 tsps. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Handful of fresh coriander
  • 1.5 tsps. raw sugar
  • 300ml. vegetable stock


  • polenta (maize meal/cornmeal)
  • 400-500ml.water.
  • 2 tsps. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 10gms.oil ( I used olive oil)



  • Finely chop onions.
  • Skin and finely chop tomatoes.
  • Peel and crush garlic cloves.
  • Peel and finely grate ginger.
  • Mix spice mix (cumin, turmeric, cardamom seeds, black peppercorns), and grind to a fine powder – removing any cardamom pods.
  • In a deep sided pan, pre-heat 2 tbs. oil.
  • Add chopped onions. Saute 5 mins.
  • Add crushed garlic and grated ginger. Saute 1 min.
  • Add ground spice mix + salt, reduce heat, sauté 20secs.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, pre-cooked beans, 300ml. hot vegetable stock and 50gms. tomato puree.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Cover and simmer 45-60 mins.


Maize Meal:

  • Grind coriander seeds to fine powder.
  • In a saucepan, place 400ml. water.
  • Add 75gms. fast-cook polenta to water.
  • Add powdered coriander, salt and pepper.  Bring gently to the boil, stirring constantly, to avoid lumps forming.
  • Then, cover, switch off heat, and leave to stand for 25 mins, allowing flavours to infuse polenta.

When stew is nearly ready to serve:

  • Place maize meal back on a gentle heat, and heat through, until slightly bubbling.
  • If necessary, add more water to obtain the ‘right’ soft consistency. (I added an extra 120ml.)
  • Remove cover from bean stew, and raise the heat.
  • Add 1.5 tsp. sugar to the bean stew.
  • Stir in.
  • Taste.  Adjust seasonings accordingly.


Serve garnished with fresh chopped Coriander.










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