Ghana : Beans and Plantain

What you need

For a serving of 4-6


  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato purée
  • 2 large onions (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of pressed garlic
  • 100ml red palm oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 seasoning cube
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 300g black-eyed peas or red beans



  • 4 very ripe plantains (more black than yellow)
  • Vegetable oil (enough for deep frying)
  • Some salt and/or pepper (optional)


BEANS: Wash and soak beans in cold water for 3 hours. Then, in a large pot and using 2 litres of water, boil your beans for at least 45 minutes. The pot should be partially closed. After ± 5 minutes, reduce the heat and simmer the beans for ± 1,5 hours, or until they are soft (mushy even). If more water is needed during the boil, add only boiling water to it. When the beans have cooked, drain them in a colander and set aside.

SAUCE: First, mash or blend your tomatoes, and prep your onion and garlic.

In a different pot from the one you’ve boiled your beans in, heat your palm oil and add the onions, garlic, chilli and ginger. After ± 3 minutes, stir in the mashed tomatoes and add your salt, pepper and seasoning cube. Add your tomato purée and a small glass of hot tap water – you’ll want to cook your sauce a bit, without it becoming too fluid. Stir and cook the mixture until the onions are translucent/soft. Cook for ± 10 minutes, adding a glass or two more water – if necessary, before stirring in the beans. Let the beans cook in the sauce, stirring intermittently for 30 more minutes. When the consistency is thick, your beans are ready for serving.

PLANTAIN: Cut both ends and cut through skin length-wise. Peel. Cut into diagonal pieces. Season with a bit of salt and pepper (optional). Heat the vegetable oil and when it is hot, fry the plantain pieces. Toss them occasionally to ensure all are cooked. When they are all golden brown, remove and drain in kitchen paper. Serve.



    Alima Bello

    Fashion designer and founding partner of Bello|Edu (

    Also: Lover of beans and plantain.

    Recipe and Preparation

    Cooking and preparation by Gladys Ayipe and Cynthia Prah.


    Recipe courtesy of Cynthia Prah.

    Cynthia Prah is a mother and homemaker living in Accra, Ghana. She is an excellent cook with a crowd of people who would enthusiastically testify to this. Luckily for me, she is also one of my dear aunts.

    Camera and Editing

    Tuleka Prah


    Judith Holzer

    Sound Mixing

    René Corbett

Video Transcript

“My favourite food is fried plantain and beans.

I really like plantain and beans because it reminds me of my childhood. It was a Sunday afternoon meal. It always reminds me of coming back from church and my mom cooking us; we’d just sit and wait for her to finish cooking up lunch. And she had a very unique way of cutting up her plantain. That’s what it reminds me of. I think that’s why I really enjoy the meal.

Plantain and beans… it’s kind of straightforward to prepare. It’s easy. You can tweak and you can actually do your own add-ons. Like you could add fish. I know some people that like to add meat to their beans. You could add palm oil, or you could do without palm oil.

The ingredients for plantain and beans are not difficult to find. I think wherever I’ve been I’ve always had either the beans or I’ve had plantain regularly.

I don’t make it as often as I’d love to make it. But whenever I do get the chance, I prepare myself a plate.”