Beef, Cabbage & Plantain stew

I had promised to share a stew recipe of vegetables and beef, cooked by boiling only. I was taught this by an aunt of mine who had previously lived among a certain community in Kenya known for their vast cultivation of plantains. She told me that the community has been cooking the dish for decades. In the rural areas, they use an earthenware pot.
To be honest, the first time I heard the cooking procedure, I was surprised. How could anyone prepare a stew consisting of beef, plantains, potatoes and big chunks of cabbages by simply boiling?

It was on a Sunday morning and she left for church. I stayed at home. Her husband also remained behind and she told me and the house help that in case we needed assistance, we should ask her husband who was doing office work in the house. Apparently it is such an easy procedure he could easily do it too.

Since the food is boiled for a long period of time, we multi- tasked; cooking and doing the house chores. We lit a jiko(charcoal stove) and gathered all the ingredients. This was the beginning of my idea of cooking food by boiling only. Here we go:

Serves 4
•      6 -8 plantains
6-8 full potatoes
•      1 kg beef/ goat meat
1 cabbage cut into 4 quarters
•      3 tomatoes
1 onion (or 2-3 stems of spring onions)
•      Salt
Curry powder/Royco (optional)
•      Green bell pepper (optional)
4-5 cups of Water

At times when I go visiting them, I notice that my uncle likes eating the dish as it is without any accompaniment except some fruit salad. I prefer serving it with Ugali(maize/corn flour mixed with water over a period of time until firm). Click here for the ugali recipe.

1.   In a large sauce pan, put the chunks of meat and add enough water so that you do not add any more during the cooking process. You’ll get to learn how much water you need for your dish if you cook frequently.
2.   Let the meat boil for about one hour thirty minutes. You can add salt at his point or wait and add later after adding the other ingredients.
3.    Add the potatoes, cover and continue boiling for about seven minutes.
4.    Add the peeled plantains and avoid stirring frequently so that the potatoes and plantains do not crumble. Boil for a further seven minutes.
5.    Arrange the quartered cabbages on top and cook till the cabbages are soft.
6.    Add chopped tomatoes, onion and bell pepper and cook till done. Stir to mix all the ingredients.
7.    Add curry powder or royco if desired.
8.    Serve hot.

You will notice that the big chunks of quarter cabbages will be fully cooked.
You will not use any oil in the dish. Meat contains animal fat which is enough.
Notice that the ingredients are added ACCORDING to how long each takes to cook. Meat and potatoes take a longer time than tomatoes and cabbages.

The more you cook this dish, the more you will be able to adequately measure the amount of water needed. The 4-5 cups stated is an estimate since it also depends on the amount of heat you use. I would suggest you use medium heat.

So, there you go. Try it.