foods and cuisines

Ewa Riro (Beans Porridge) | The Nigerian Soul Food That Warms the Heart

Tons of food in Nigeria features beans due to the abundance of beans in the country. Ewa Riro is a popular dish because it packs addicting flavors and is cheap to make.

The Yoruba-speaking area of Nigeria created and popularized this delicious dish. The beans are boiled until they’re soft and then they’re stewed with spices and palm oil.

Special ingredients added to the stew depend on who’s making the dish. Some people enjoy adding crayfish while others add smoked fish. If you’re making the dish at home, add what satisfies your tastebuds.

Most Nigerian beans recipes usually involve one of three beans which all belong to the Vigna unguiculata family and play a crucial role in the Nigerian diet. They are, ewa oloyin, drum and Sokoto white.

Ewa oloyin directly translates to “beans with honey” and is called honey beans in English. It also sometimes referred to as “sweet beans” because of its characteristic sweet flavour. It has light brown colour. Drum also has a brown colour, but deeper than oloyin, and a bit larger too. These two brown beans are very common in Nigeria, but not anywhere else. Hence why they are called Nigerian beans.

Health Benefits of Ewa Riro (Beans Porridge)

If you’re no stranger to Sims Home Kitchen, then you’ll know how often our recipes include beans. There is a good reason for that! It turns out, beans offer many different health benefits and are one of the richest sources of protein on the planet.

Aside from protein, beans also contain a lot of:

Antioxidants
Folate
Iron
Fiber
Vitamins that can reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease

A handful of beans per day should be a staple in everybody’s diet. While there are other sources of protein out there, beans should always be considered as one of the most health-conscious choices.

Ingredients for Nigerian Ewa Riro (Beans Porridge)

  • Brown Beans or black-eyed peas
  • Nigerian Pepper mix (substitute with cayenne pepper and tomato paste)
  • Dried catfish, washed (optional)
  • Handful bonga fish, washed and deboned (optional)
  • Onion, chopped
  • Palm oil: substitute with vegetable oil
  • Bouillion powder or stock cubes. (optional)
  • Salt

How To Cook Ewa Riro (Beans Porridge)

You will need…

  • Nigerian beans
  • Scotch bonnet peppers
  • Onions
  • Red palm oil
  • Salt
  • Bouillon cube

A few notes about the ingredients

  • Red Palm-oil: This is one dish where you can’t skimp on the palm-oil as it not only adds colour, but flavour. I will not suggest a substitute for the red palm oil as I feel the Nigerian beans porridge is not complete without this. For those who do not know, the palm oil used in Nigeria is farmed and produced at a cottage industry level locally.
  • Beans: Any of honey beans, drum or black eye beans can be used for this ewa riro recipe. I prefer honey beans because of the sweetness.
  • Pepper: Scotch bonnet gives this dish its characteristic fruity but hot flavour. You can substitute with other hot peppers or bell pepper if you do not want any heat. If you don’t have fresh hot peppers, dried ground pepper also works well.
  • Tomatoes: This is an optional ingredient. If I have the pepper mix which is made of peppers, onions and tomatoes, then I would use this. However, if I’m making a pepper blend just for cooking beans, I use only scotch bonnet and a lot of onions.
  • Additional ingredients: I have kept this recipe simple to make it suitable for vegetarians, but sometimes, I add ground prawns or dried fish for extra flavour. You can also add meats like smoked turkey etc and fish for additional protein.

How To Pick Beans

This is the first step in making any Nigerian beans recipe. The beans are processed locally and usually have some stones and dirt particles.  Even the pre-packed beans we buy in the UK need some picking to remove stones.

To pick, spread out on a tray so you can see all the beans, look for any foreign bodies and remove. If the beans has a lot of foreign bodies, then the method in this video should be effective.

How To Cook Ewa Riro (Beans Porridge)

  • Chop one of the onions.
  • Wash the beans at least twice in cold water and pour in a colander to drain.
  • Pour the beans into the pressure cooker, add the onions and pour in enough water to cover the beans. The rule of thumb is to make the ratio of beans to water 1:3.
  • Close the valve of the pressure cooker and leave until it reaches full pressure. This should take no more than 15 mins.
  • Once it reaches full pressure, reduce the heat and leave for additional 15 mins for the beans to cook.
  • If you are using a pot, follow the first two steps, then pour the beans and onions into a pot with similar beans to water ratio. Place on the hob and allow to cook until the beans become soft. This could take between 1hr to 1hr 30 mins depending on the type of beans. If the water dries up before the beans become soft, you may need to add more water to the pot. Add a little at a time.
  • While the beans is cooking, you can start preparing the sauce.
  • Remove the stalk from the scotch bonnet peppers and peel the remaining onion. Add in a blender with a little water and allow to puree coarsely.
  • Pour the palm oil in a non-stick pot big enough to cook the beans and leave for about 3 mins. We don’t want to bleach the oil here.
  • Pour in the pepper and onion blend, a bouillon cube (I used Knorr) and some salt.
  • Reduce the heat and cook for between 15-20 mins so you are left with a fried stew. Remove from heat.
  • Remove the pressure cooker from heat and allow to cool down naturally to depressurize. This should take around 15 mins.

Once the pot is adequately cooled. Unlock the lid. The beans should be very soft and the liquid should have reduced significantly. Do not drain whatever liquid is left so as not to lose the flavour of the beans.

Tip the beans into the pot containing the sauce. If you are cooking in a pot, do the same.

Stir the content of the pot and allow to cook under low heat. Taste and more salt if required. Stir every few minutes and allow to cook for around 10 mins before removing from heat.

Serve on its own or with some garri (fermented cassava meal) sprinkled over. If you are not sure what to eat beans with, here are some other ideas.

  • Dodo (fried plantain)
  • Bread
  • Yam
  • Rice
  • Ogi (pap)

Where can I buy Nigeria beans?

It is usually available in Asian and Caribbean shops labelled as brown beans or honey beans. You can also find it supermarkets  where there are ethnic aisles and it will be in African/Caribbean section. In the UK, the black eye beans is more accessible as you can find this in most major supermarkets.

Can I cook ahead?

Definitely! This is one meal that takes some time to make and which most families eat often. It will keep in the fridge for a few days and in the freezer for a few weeks. You can make many batches at once. Pack away in portions in individual freezer bowls. Bring out and thaw before warming in the microwave when you are ready to eat.

What do I look for when buying Nigerian beans?

You want clean beans with minimal dirt and stones. Beans are very susceptible to weevil attack, and the way you know if this has happened is when you see holes on the beans. Make sure the beans you are buying are not full of holes.

  • Chop one of the onions.
  • Wash the beans at least twice in cold water and pour in a colander to drain.
  • Pour the beans into the pressure cooker, add the onions and pour in enough water to cover the beans. The rule of thumb is to make the ratio of beans to water 1:3.
  • Close the valve of the pressure cooker and leave until it reaches full pressure. This should take no more than 15 mins.
  • Once it reaches full pressure, reduce the heat and leave for additional 15 mins for the beans to cook.
  • While the beans is cooking, you can start preparing the sauce.
  • Remove the stalk from the scotch bonnet peppers and peel the remaining onion. Add in a blender with a little water and allow to puree.
  • Pour the palm oil in a non-stick pot big enough to cook the beans and leave for about 3 mins. We don’t want to bleach the oil here.
  • Pour in the pepper and onion blend, a bouillon cube (I used Knorr) and some salt. Reduce the heat and cook for between 15-20 mins so you are left with a fried stew. Remove from heat.
  • Remove from pressure cooker from heat and allow to cool down naturally to depressurize. This should take around 15 mins.
  • Once the pot is adequately cooled. Unlock the lid. Tip the beans into the pot containing the sauce.
  • Stir the content of the pot and allow to cook under low heat. Taste and more salt if required. Stir every few minutes and allow to cook for around 10 mins before removing from heat.

Nutrition

Calories: 153kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 1gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 241mgPotassium: 99mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 49IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 15mgIron: 1mg