This week on “The Weekly Veg,” we’re tackling one of my personal favorite foods: githeri.
A boiled Kenyan stew of sorts made out of all sorts of vegetables from beans to corn to peas, githeri first came into my life during my first J-term at Miami.
I am from Florida, and my family and I are all big “Disney adults.”
We went to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival every year when I was growing up, and the 2019 festival was the first year my parents went without me since I was away at college. 2019 was also the first year that Disney served githeri at the Africa station of the festival, and my parents fell in love with the dish and began to make a version of it at home.
After trying my mom’s githeri when I was home for J-term, I was hooked, and over the years my mom has added to and edited her recipe to find the perfect dish. So this recipe may not be a perfectly authentic githeri, but it sure is delicious!
I promised myself that I would save this particular recipe for later in “The Weekly Veg,” but when I fell ill last week and spent four days in bed, I realized that I needed this warm, flavorful stew to get me out of my funk.
Any version of githeri is made almost entirely of vegetables — mine uses white corn, cannellini beans, butternut squash, onions, tomatoes, pigeon peas and spinach for a healthy mouthful of veggies.
If you’d like to use other versions of these vegetables, that is entirely up to you — my mom experimented with pumpkin instead of butternut squash for a while, for instance — but the mix of these together has become my personal favorite.
One great thing about all of these vegetables is that, mostly, they’re sold in cans or pre-chopped at the grocery store for fairly cheap. My mom calls this a “can of this, can of that” recipe because you can open the cans, drain the excess liquid and then dump the vegetables straight into the pot — no fancy prep required.
Of course, you’ll also need spices. I personally use the spice mix for which the recipe calls — coriander, cumin and turmeric, which I keep all mixed together in the required ratio specifically for githeri — but, if you’d prefer, you can easily substitute all of that for an equivalent amount of curry powder or garam masala.
Oh, and you can’t forget the basics: olive oil, garlic and salt.
All together, I find that this githeri takes about half an hour, but it’s literally just dumping cans of vegetables into a pot and letting them cook for about 5-10 minutes at a time before adding the next one. There’s very little actual attention required of this recipe, which makes it the perfect food to cook while you’re doing that homework assignment due at midnight that you definitely remembered to do on time.
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Here are this recipe’s problems:
Can openers can be difficult. While making this recipe last weekend, I forgot that my functioning can opener had mysteriously vanished, leaving only the one I don’t know how to use. I had already begun sautéing the onions by the time I got around to opening the cans, so I did have to delay my recipe a bit by moving the onions off the heat until I could get the cans open. I would definitely recommend opening your cans ahead of time to avoid this issue.
Though this dish is flavorful, it’s not necessarily spicy. So if you’re looking for a kick, I would recommend adding your favorite spicy supplement at some point during the cooking process, because you’re not going to get that from the provided spice mix alone.
Make sure you check your pre-chopped vegetables! Though the canned ones should usually be fine, some of my pre-chopped onions still had some skin on them, and I had to briefly sort through and make sure none of the skin went into the pot.
Though this dish is great on its own, you can also serve it with rolls or over rice. Sometimes, for an additional added crunch, I will eat it with some toast or top it with crispy fried onions.
One last note: the recipe that I use, since it uses entire cans of food, comes out to about 12-16 servings depending on your portion size. No, I’m not kidding. This makes a lot of food, so make sure you’ve got room in your fridge (or freezer — it does freeze really well)!
Is it nepotism if I give my mom’s recipe (and one of my favorite dishes) a 10/10? The spices are warm, comforting and savory, the mix of vegetables is hearty enough to fill your stomach and the smell will have all of your roommates poking their heads into the kitchen to ask what’s cooking. I make this all the time, and you should, too!
1 15-oz can of cannellini beans
1 15-oz can of white corn
1 15-oz can of chopped tomatoes
1 15-oz can of pigeon peas
1 15-oz container of cubed butternut squash
1 10-oz container of chopped onions
6 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. salt
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups water
4 tsp. ground coriander*
2 tsp. ground cumin*
1 tsp. ground turmeric*
1 5-oz bag of spinach
*Can all be replaced w/ a total of 7 teaspoons of curry powder or garam masala.
In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté onions until soft, then add garlic and sauté for a few more minutes.
Add tomatoes, spices and salt. Cook on low for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Drain corn, peas and beans, then add all to pot.
Add squash and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until squash is tender, stirring occasionally.
Chop spinach and add to pot. Stir and cook until wilted.
Serve warm — on its own, over rice or with rolls. Makes 12-16 servings.
Have a recipe you’d like to see on The Weekly Veg? Email it to me and I’ll be happy to test and rate it.