Beans And Pulses/ Vegan African/Vegetarian/ vegetarian/ West African Food

Red Red, Ghanaian Bean Stew (Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free)

Red red bean

Red red is a Ghanaian bean stew served with a side of fried plantains and often garnished with gari, a coarse toasted cassava flour. It makes an altogether delightful dish, that is perfectly suitable for vegans and vegetarians alike, and is naturally gluten-free. If you would like to try something new, have a go at this.

Red Red, Ghanaian Bean Stew Garnished With Gari

I don’t remember being very fond of red red as a child, but for some reason the older I get, the fonder I grow. My mother used to make this dish, using a red type of bean I now know was red cowpeas. It makes me wonder whether, as we grow older, we tend to gravitate towards the things that remind us most of home and our childhood. Perhaps this is why I think of red red so fondly now. Regardless of all those ponderings, it is a truly tasty and comforting dish.

What are the essential ingredients?

Cowpeas or Black-Eyed Peas

Black-eyed peas, a variety of cowpeas are the most common bean to use. White black-eyed peas are very easy to get, hold their shape in the stew and maintain a satisfying bite. Sometimes I mix them with chickpeas. Canned or dried versions of the beans work beautifully however the dried beans are the best. My mother used the red version of the beans (cowpeas) and even though I didn’t really know what bean it was, until just a few days ago, I remember that distinct colour. It does make me wonder whether that is why red red is called red red, partly due to the red beans, and the other part due to the palm oil, which we will discuss next.

Red Palm Fruit Oil (Dende)

Palm or dende oil in the context of this recipe is the crude red fruit oil from the oil palm tree, Elaeis guineensis. It is a close cousin to the coconut tree therefore it has an aromatic and rich nutty flavour once you cut through the fruit. A lot of Ghanaian red palm oil is made by cooperatives of women farmers. I have seen my mother make soup from palm fruits, called palm nut soup. As the soup is cooked, oil settles to the top. The cooperatives make red palm oil using the same heat and separation method.

The West African Trio: Onions, Tomatoes, Chilies

A great trio of onions, tomatoes and chilies are the start to most Ghanaian stews. Red red is no exception. And the chilies we use are scotch bonnet peppers with a unique flavour and aroma. These days we include ginger and garlic and enrich the stew by adding tomato puree. The stew takes an incredible amount of water, so you will use up about 500ml of vegetable stock and might still need a drop or two of water. You simply can’t make a mess of this dish. In Nigeria, there is a preference for brown beans. These are very soft, therefore if you use them, your stew will have a mashy consistency.

Plantain And Gari (Toasted Cassava Grits)

The last 2 things you will need to complete this dish are plantains and a little bit of gari as a garnish. Fried plantains are the ubiquitous side, although I prefer to roast mine. The addition of gari is quite interesting. This is because it’s something learned from South America, however the dish today is always presented with a dusting of gari on the side. It adds a textural crunch to the dish.

Oven Roasted Plantains With Red Red Bean Stew And Avocado Salad

Some Variations

Red Red is not strictly a meatless dish, but it gives a balanced meal with additional proteins. Salted, smoked or dried fish make flavoursome additions. It can also be cooked with meat like beef or goat. If you don’t like plantains, try roasted sweet potatoes. Their natural sweetness mimics the plantains. You can also serve it with rice or chapati.

Where To Get These Ingredients

These are now widely available in the UK online or at Afro Caribbean grocers. In London, you will be able to find these in most supermarkets South of the river. You can find them in areas such as North End Road market, Brixton and markets around Peckham and East Croydon. Plantains are also popular at Asian grocers, so if you are reading from further afield like Melbourne (oh I miss that place), the Victoria market is a great place to start to search for them.

Nutritional Information

This makes a healthy balanced vegan dish. The beans are protein-rich, fiber-rich, and rich in vitamins like iron and folate. Plantains are also fibre rich and have high levels of potassium. This helps you to live longer by lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke. The palm oil is rich in beta carotene, which is good for the eyes. It is also great for promoting LDL cholesterol, which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Need I say more? It sounds good so far. But with everything, moderate your intake, mix it up with some fresh vegetables. I love to serve this dish alongside dips like aubergine dip, and a tray of tomato and fresh herb salad like mint or basil. If you are in Nigeria and can get a hold of scent leaf or firing, try it with the salad.

Red Red Bean Stew In An All Vegan West African Inspired Feast

Jump to the recipe below or watch our tutorial on Youtube. Red Red, A Ghanaian Bean Stew.

Updated by Admin on 15 July 2020

Red Red, Ghanaian Bean Stew (Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free)

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)
By Freda Muyambo Serves: 4
Prep Time: Overnight soaking plus boiling the beans Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Red red is a Ghanaian bean stew served with fried plantains. This recipe is simple, wholesome, gluten-free and vegan. Use whole beans and soak them. If you don't have the patience for that use canned beans, the dish is just as delicious.


  • 1 cup of dry black-eyed peas (180-200g or 1 can of beans)
  • 1/4 cup red palm oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 to 4 medium size, ripe tomatoes or 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • salt to taste
  • Water for soaking and boiling beans, extra as needed.



1. Soak the beans in fresh water for about 2 hours or overnight, this makes the cooking process quicker. You can also soak the beans in hot water for half an hour before cooking. Cook the beans for 30 to 45 minutes until soft.


2. Chop the vegetables. Saute the onions until caramelized then add the tomato paste.


3. Add the garlic, fry about 30 seconds then add the ginger and tomatoes in and fry until they have cooked down. This should take 5 to 10 minutes. The scotch bonnet peppers can be added with the tomatoes. They are potently spicy so I advise you add them whole with just a prick to regulate the heat. Remove when serving. For heat junkies or the more adventurous, chop up and add half, whole or all two scotch bonnets for mighty fiery flavour.


4. Add the cooked beans and vegetable stock then allow to simmer for half an hour on low heat. During this time you can prepare the plantains.


5. Take 4 plantains. Peel, slice, season with salt and deep fry or oven roast.


6. Serve the dish garnished with a little gari powder.


  • 452 Calories
  • 79g Carbohydrates
  • 16g Fat
  • 12g Fiber
  • 6g Protein
  • 7g Saturated fat
  • 418mg Sodium
  • 32g Sugar
  • 7g Unsaturated fat


If you do not have easy access to palm oil, try coconut oil if it's in your pantry. A lot of flavour is infused from the oil you use, and palm oil gives this dish that original West African flavour. These ingredients should all be accessible at your local grocery store. To get your hands on palm oil or plantains, try an Afro Caribbean or Asian store, in an organic store like Wholefoods or check online. If you would like to substitute the black-eyed peas for another bean, try chickpeas/garbanzo beans, pinto, aduki or kidney beans or a combination of your favourites.

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  • Reply
    July 1, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    This looks absolutely scrumptious!!! I’ll definitely try this xxx

    • Reply
      January 24, 2024 at 8:45 pm

      I hope you tried it. 😘

  • Reply
    April 26, 2022 at 9:57 am

    A couple of questions. When do you add the cooked beans? When do you add the peppers–do you leave them whole or chop them too? When do you add the ginger?

    • Reply
      April 26, 2022 at 10:04 am

      Hi Andrew

      Thank you for visiting and making great observations on the recipe. Add the beans just before adding the vegetable stock. For the pepper and ginger, i usually grind them with the tomatoes, so these are added at the same time as tomatoes. I will update the recipe. Since writing it I have cooked this recipe with the red and brown cowpea varieties of the black eyed peas. They are sweeter and cook to a much softer bean pottage of sorts. I highly recommend cooking till as soft as you can get them which would take some time unless you have a pressure cooker. I hope that answers your questions without adding too much confusion. Happy cooking 😀

  • Reply
    April 26, 2022 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks for the clarification…looking forward to giving it a go

  • Reply
    August 30, 2022 at 2:52 pm

    There’s a vast difference between red red and beans stew. For red red( known as G)be, u don’t need tomatoes paste and the likes. It’s just onions, palm oil and pepper( u can add garlic and ginger to taste.. preferably) and off course the beans. But the recipe u wrote above is for beans stew( u can eat beans stew with any staple .. rice, plantains etc and evenn add beef) but for red red it’s only Eaten with ripe plantains (or u can choose to add egg or pears) thank u

    • Reply
      October 31, 2022 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to share YOUR knowledge. I have shared mine 🥰

    • Reply
      July 18, 2023 at 3:51 pm

      There are different ways to make red red. You described the version most commonly sold as street food, while the recipe on this page is more commonly sold in restaurants and food joints. As for what each individual makes at home, it all depends on the person. Some make one or the other, while others (like myself) make both, depending on which we feel like &/or have time for. MYBURNTORANGE, don’t mind this person.

      • Reply
        January 24, 2024 at 8:41 pm

        He he yoooooo ❤️

  • Reply
    October 31, 2022 at 4:42 pm

    Thank you so much for this great recipe Freda! This is my go-to red red recipe. My boyfriend keeps requesting I make it, haha! I have to say using red palm oil made a huge difference in taste for me. I have recently also purchased gari, so I am going to add that too tonight. I also want to compliment you on the beautiful photos included in this recipe, they are stunning!!!

    • Reply
      October 31, 2022 at 4:44 pm

      I am so pleased to hear that 🥰

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