Githeri is a traditional Kenyan dish that is made with beans and corn. It’s typically served alongside other dishes, such as maize flour porridge or Chapati (wheat flatbread). The word “Githeri” means mixed in Swahili. This delicious dish comes together in 25 minutes and combines many flavours to create a hearty meal. It has been said to be the staple food of Kenya for centuries.

a brown clay pot filled to the top with githeri (Kenyan beans and corn) with 2 stalks of scallions sticking out. Angled shot.

It’s made by members of the Kikuyu tribe, who are known for this dish and typically use red beans in their githeri recipes. Green mung beans or black-eyed peas, on the other hand, may be used in githeri prepared by different tribal communities in Kenya.

Interestingly, it’s reported that it’s popularly served in boarding schools across Africa.

I guess you could think of it as a one-pot beans stew – it’s so flavorful and nutritious.

Friends, gather up these simple pantry items: red beans, corn kernels, tomatoes, broth, spices, and let me show you how to make Githeri.

In a nutshell, preparing the dish is simple. It takes as little as 30 minutes to complete. It’s also incredibly versatile; you could easily replace kidney beans with other types of beans or even utilize lentils.

I’m always amazed at how wonderful it tastes every time I make it. Plus, the kids can never get enough…you may want to double up the recipe to enjoy leftovers for school lunches.

Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make Githeri:

graphic showing ingredients needed to make githeri (Kenyan beans and corn stew)
  • Kidney beans. Canned kidney beans may be used in place of dried kidney beans. Rinse the beans thoroughly. On occasion, when I need a lot of beans for a recipe, I have cooked raw kidney beans in the pressure cooker and frozen them for longer shelf life. This way, I can use them in a variety of dishes. Just remember to soak dry beans overnight before cooking them. Soaking beans helps to remove the gassy-producing components and makes them more digestible.
  • Corn kernels: canned or frozen – both work wonders. Drain any excess liquid if you are opting for canned corn. If you don’t like corn, opt for green peas instead…they make a fine substitution in this recipe.
  • Tomatoes: Fresh or canned tomatoes may be used. You’ll need two large-sized tomatoes; I prefer to use plum tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes, on the other hand, result in a less runny sauce, making the dish ideal for roti or tortilla wraps. But the runny version goes well with rice or quinoa.
  • Spices: Get your githeri flavour rolling with curry powder (preferably, Madras) and smoked paprika. Curry powder is a hot, bright yellow blend of spices that typically consists of turmeric, coriander seed (cilantro), cumin seeds, fennels seed, mustard seeds and chilli pepper powder.
  • Onions: The githeri is prepared with white onion and spring onion (scallion). The white onion is utilized to make a sauce, while one scallion stem is sufficient as a garnish.
  • Olive oil: I use extra virgin olive oil for my Desi (South Asian) dishes. It’s a heart-healthy cooking oil that works well – frying onion and garlic. If you prefer, any sort of cooking oil may be used; however, the githeri taste may not be as authentic when oils with an intense flavour profile are utilized.
  • Vegetable broth: Stock is such a great way to add flavour. However, opt for no added salt to control your sodium intake. If you don’t have stock on hand, water may be used as a substitute.
  • Garlic: For depth of flavour. Crush or mince fresh cloves, which is best when githeri is prepared. The flavour is pretty incredible!
  • Cilantro: For a fragrant taste, gently stir in fresh cilantro. I adore cilantro, so it’s often used in my Desi-licious kitchen. The leaves and stems exude heaps of flavour. And;
  • Salt: In all of my recipes, I use sea salt. Feel free to increase or decrease the amount as needed.
a pan pf githeri (kenyan beans and corn dish on a straw mat with herbs and flowers decorated around and a beige scarf styled close by. Close up flatlay shot.

How to make it – step by step

step by step preparation images of how to make githeri (kenyan beans and corn) in a pan on a stove.
  1. In a large pan, add olive oil over medium heat. Once heated, saute onions for a couple of minutes until lightly golden and translucent in appearance (Image 1).
  2. Stir in garlic, smoked paprika and curry powder. Cook on low heat while stirring for a minute (Images 2-3).
  3. Now, add tomatoes; cook for three minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and mushy (Images 4-5).
  4. Next, stir in beans, corn kernels, stock and salt; cover the githeri mixture and reduce heat to low-medium (Images 6-7). Simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally (Image 8).
  5. Garnish githeri with spring onion (scallion) and cilantro (Images 9-10).
a brown clay pot filled to the top with githeri (Kenyan beans and corn) with 2 stalks of scallions sticking out. Angle shot

Top tips

  1. For this dish, I prefer canned kidney beans or frozen corn kernels because they’re a time saver. If you don’t enjoy canned foods and want to use dry beans instead, make sure the mixture simmers for a longer period with extra stock or water so that it cooks completely.
  2. Don’t skim on the garnish ingredients. Opt for fresh cilantro as it makes all the difference. The flavour is more potent and fragrant with fresh herbs!
  3. Remember to cook the mixture on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally; allow it to simmer – this will ensure that the dish reaches its optimal consistency.
  4. Prepping ingredients ahead of time is a great way to save time in the kitchen.
a pan pf githeri (kenyan beans and corn dish on a straw mat with herbs and flowers decorated around and a beige scarf styled close by. Flatlay.

Nutrition information

According to a 2021 randomized trial, eating beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils for several weeks improved blood flow and lowered heart disease risk.

Beans and legumes are nutritious sources of plant-based proteins, particularly if consumed in combination with other foods. The beneficial nutritional profile and bioactive compounds found in plant-based diets, including beans and legumes, such as phytochemicals, contribute to health and disease prevention.

serving of githeri is:

  • An excellent source of vitamin C
  • An excellent source of vitamin A
  • A good source of iron
  • An excellent source of fibre – meeting almost 50% of the recommended daily amount!
  • 31 g of net carbs
  • Lower in fat

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet.

a brown clay pot filled to the top with githeri (Kenyan beans and corn) with 2 stalks of scallions sticking out. Angles shot on a kitchen counter.

Are kidney beans good for you?

Kidney beans are a wonderful source of plant-based protein, dietary fibre and healthy minerals. They’re also low in fat while rich in complex carbohydrates, which helps sustain energy levels for longer periods. Githeri is perfect when served with rice or quinoa; I use white basmati rice that’s well suited for githeri because it’s light and fluffy.

Beans may benefit health by lowering blood pressure, inflammation, and cholesterol levels. Beans are beneficial to heart health since they lower blood pressure, cause less oxidative stress, and boost metabolism. They have been shown to help folks with higher weights, low-grade inflammation, and might play a role in immune-related disease risk management.

Frequently asked questions

Is githeri good for vegetarians?

Githeri is definitely a nutritious and satisfying vegetarian and vegan recipe. It’s made using beans and corn and contains no animal products. It’s high in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. A githeri dish contains over half of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C per serving!

How can githeri be served?

Githeri is a popular meal in Kenya and you will find it being sold on the streets, in restaurants and most commonly at home. It’s usually eaten with ugali (maize-based staple food made from cornmeal) and kachumbari (chopped tomato or cabbage salad).

a brown clay pot filled to the top with githeri (Kenyan beans and corn) with 2 stalks of scallions sticking out. Angle shot

How long can it be stored?

When properly stored (in an airtight container) githeri leftovers can be stored in the fridge for three days.

Is corn a vegetable or fruit?

Corn is a vegetable that’s been around for more than 9,000 years and has developed a variety of uses across its long history. The early varieties of corn were not only used to make food but also for religious practices, animal feed and even oil. Corn actually falls into two categories: sweet corn and field or corn.

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Desi~liciously Yours, Shahzadi
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a brown clay pot filled to the top with githeri (Kenyan beans and corn) with 2 stalks of scallions sticking out. Side angle shot
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Get the Recipe:

25-Minute Githeri Recipe (Kenyan Beans & Corn)

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Yield: 3 people
Githeri is a traditional Kenyan dish that is made with beans and corn. It's typically served alongside other dishes, such as maize flour porridge or Chapati (wheat flatbread). The word "Githeri" means mixed in Swahili. This delicious dish comes together in 25 minutes and combines many flavours to create a hearty meal. It has been said to be the staple food of Kenya for centuries.

Ingredients
 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin, Benefits of olive oil
  • 1 onion, medium, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, large, crushed or minced
  • 2 tomatoes, large, washed, diced into small pieces
  • tsp smoked paprika, powder
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • 2 cups kidney beans, canned, drained
  • 1 cup corn, canned, drained
  • ¼ cup vegetable stock, no added salt
  • 1 tsp salt, sea salt
  • 1 scallion, washed, ends removed, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, fresh, washed, finely chopped, leaves and stems

Instructions
 

  • In a large pan, add olive oil over medium heat
  • Once heated, saute onion for a couple of minutes until lightly golden and translucent in appearance.
  • Stir in garlic, smoked paprika and curry powder. Cook on low heat while stirring for one minute until fragrant
  • Add tomatoes; cook for three minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and mushy
  • Next, stir in beans, corn kernels, stock and salt; cover the githeri mixture and reduce heat to low-medium. Simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Garnish githeri with scallion and cilantro

Notes

  1. For this dish, I prefer canned kidney beans or frozen corn kernels because they’re a time saver. If you don’t enjoy canned foods and want to use dry beans instead, make sure the mixture simmers for a longer period with extra stock or water so that it cooks completely.
  2. Don’t skim on the garnish ingredients. Opt for fresh cilantro instead. The flavour is more potent and fragrant with fresh herbs!
  3. Remember to cook the mixture on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally; allow it to simmer – this will ensure that the dish reaches its optimal consistency.
  4. Prepping ingredients ahead of time is a great way to save time in the kitchen.

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 280kcal (14%)Carbohydrates: 46g (15%)Protein: 14g (28%)Fat: 6g (9%)Saturated Fat: 1g (5%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 787mg (33%)Potassium: 893mg (26%)Fiber: 12g (48%)Sugar: 7g (8%)Vitamin A: 1445IU (29%)Vitamin C: 20mg (24%)Calcium: 64mg (6%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

Keep in mind that the nutritional values provided are approximations and suggestions. This nutrition facts table cannot account for your individual needs. Your body — including your hunger and satiety cues — change daily. It’s perfectly fine to eat more or less on different days. Instead of letting food guilt take over, consider mindful eating.

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Cuisine: African, ethnic
Course: Main
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