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West African Red-Red Beans with Coconut Rice, Avocado, & Sweet Plantain

Kenyatta Ashford | June 16, 2021

Red red is a traditional Ghanaian dish made with black eyed peas, red palm oil, and tomatoes. The name comes from the red coloring it develops from the palm oil, keeping with the tradition of serving red colored foods in celebration of Juneteenth. Serve with fried sweet plantains!

Prep Time
6-8 hours
Cook Time
1 hour
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West African Red-Red Beans with Coconut Rice, Avocado, & Sweet Plantain


  • 1 pound dried beans
  • ½ to ¾ cup palm oil and canola oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • ½ tablespoon garlic
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 cups to 3 cups reserved liquid from cooking the beans
  • 1 tablespoon bouillon powder/cube vegetarian
  • 2-3 green onions chopped
  • salt and pepper as needed
  • 1 habanero pepper or sub with hot pepper


  1. Rinse dry black-eyed pea beans, discarding any foreign objects (if you use packaged beans, you can skip this step). Add beans to a large pot and cover with 3-4 inches of cold water. Cover and let sit overnight or for 6-8 hours. 
  2. Drain the soaked beans, rinse, and place in a Dutch oven. Cook the beans for about 50-60 minutes or until tender. 
  3. Drain the cooked beans and set aside, reserving some of the 2-3 cups of liquid for later. 
  4. Heat oil (palm and canola) in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Saute the onions in the oil for 3-4 minutes, stirring often and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. 
  5. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, ginger, garlic, paprika and bouillon powder or cubes. Cook while stirring for about 1 minute. 
  6. Add 2 cups of bean cooking liquid and bring to a simmer, continuing to cook the sauce and stir occasionally. 
  7. Finally, add the beans, green onions, and remaining reserved bean cooking liquid. Bring to a boil and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. 
  8. Adjust consistency with bean cooking liquid and season to taste. Serve with fried sweet plantains.  
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Contributed By: Kenyatta Ashford

Raised in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans as one of seven siblings, Kenyatta Ashford found his love for food at a young age over lingering family meals hosted by his mother, Sharon and his Uncle Walter. After building his technical expertise and interest in the food ways of his ancestry at the Culinary Institute of American, he created the concept for Neutral Ground and set-up shop in Chattanooga’s Proof Incubator. The menu at Neutral Ground is a product of Ashford’s “afro-creole” identity and vision that constantly reflects on and reimagines cuisine that reaches all the way back to his ancestors. Kenyatta recently won Food Network’s Chopped and his restaurant, Neutral Ground, has been featured in Conde Nast, Eater, Travel Noire, the New York Times and more. Beyond the kitchen, Ashford is passionate about providing pathways for emerging culinary leaders into the industry.

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