When I was an art student in Manchester, my friend Mark used to like to cook from a small paperback called The Frugal Cookbook. There was one recipe that was easy to make, and one that I could never get enough of; Jamaican Stew Peas. Beans and rice with coconut, thyme and black pepper. A delicious, comforting combination – and one that doesn’t weigh heavy on the purse strings.
This is an adaptation of the same said recipe but with leeks and sweet potatoes. Great for oryoki meals, methinks!
3 medium leeks, or 2 medium onions (300 g)
2 large or 3 medium sweet potatoes (450 g)
4 medium carrots (400 g)
2 cloves garlic
25 g (¼ cup) desiccated coconut
400 ml (1½ cups) coconut milk
45 g (3 tablespoons) creamed coconut
125 ml (½ cup) water
250 g (1½ cups) cooked & drained kidney beans (about one can, or 125 g dried)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Dash ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sambal (chilli paste) or a whole chilli pepper – Scotch Bonnet for those who like it hot
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
- If using dried kidney beans, soak overnight. Drain, put in a pot and cover with fresh water. Either put in a pressure cooker and cover with 3 cm (2″) of water and cook bring to high pressure and cook for 10 minutes; or in a pot for 2 hours adding more water as needed to keep the beans covered while cooking. Drain when tender.
- Trim the leeks, using only the pale green and white parts. Cut in quarters down the length then medium dice. Cover with fresh water.
- Peel and medium-dice the sweet potatoes.
- Peel and medium-dice the carrots.
- Peel and mince the garlic.
- Keep the chilli pepper whole!
- In a dry frying pan over a low flame, toast the desiccated coconut until it starts to blush. Set aside.
- Drain the leeks and shake off excess water.
- Put some oil into the frying pan, turn the flame to medium and fry the leeks. As they begin to caramelise, add the garlic and the thyme. Fry for thirty seconds then transfer into a large pot.
- Put the coconut milk, water, kidney beans, pepper and chilli pepper into the large pot with the leeks, carrots and sweet potatoes. Bring to a scant boil over a medium-high flame. Turn the flame low and simmer for about twenty minutes, or until the carrots and sweet potatoes are tender.
- When the carrots and sweet potatoes are tender, add the creamed coconut and let it melt into the stew.
- Season to taste.
- Remove the chilli pepper and add the desiccated coconut before serving.
- Serve alongside rice and a green salad tossed with Lemon Oregano Dressing.