It’s actually super easy and inexpensive to be a vegan in Rwanda. Many buffets offer a discount if you’re not taking any meat!
Some of my favorite meals to cook at home are the simplest and use inexpensive, delicious, fresh, local ingredients.
One simple meal that’s nutritionally complete, meaning it has all the needed macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, is ibijumba (sweet potato) and beans with dark leafy greens, such as sukuma wiki or dodo, in a tomato sauce, seasoned with onions, garlic, a little salt and fresh coriander or celery. I will usually also add carrots and maybe some peas or imiteja (string beans). Pretty much any vegetable you like can go into this dish, but be sure to have a protein (beans/peas), a starch (ibijumba/ibitoki) and some colorful vegetables.
The different colors indicate different vitamins. Orange vegetables (and fruits) have beta carotene or vitamin A. Dark green leafy vegetables, such as sukuma and dodo, have iron and vitamins (A, C, K). Red indicates lycopene, an important cancer fighting antioxidant. Yellow fruits, such as pineapple, have vitamin C. Getting a rainbow on your plate ensures you are getting all the different vitamins and minerals.
Below is a quick recipe for you to try. You only need 1 pot for this meal, so easy clean up too!
- 1 large sweet potatoes (if you can, find the yellow/orange ones for more vitamin A!)
- 2 large carrots
- 1 bunch of sukuma (or another green)
- 1 purple eggplant (optional)
- 1 cup of dried or 1.5 cups of fresh beans
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 1 small can of tomato paste
- 1 small bunch of cilantro/coriander
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 small onion
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Oil (vegetable oil)
If using dried beans, rinse them and soak them overnight.
First, wash and peel your sweet potatoes and carrots and wash the greens. Cut the sweet potatoes into cubes. Cut the onion into small pieces and mince the garlic.
Add some oil to your pot and heat it on a medium/high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. When the onions are translucent, add a few cups of water and the beans and bring to a boil. Let cook for 20 minutes, then add the sweet potato to the pot and with some salt.
While the sweet potatoes are boiling, slice the carrots, cube the eggplant, cut up the tomatoes (I don’t peel mine, but you can if you wish) and cut the greens into small strips and set aside.
After 10 minutes, poke the sweet potatoes to see if they’re soft. When almost soft, add the carrots and the eggplant and stir. Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste and the greens. Cook until the carrots are soft, add the cilantro and black pepper, and serve.