East African Kunde

I first had this dish in the quaint little fishing town of Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, of all places. I was at an artist residency in 2005, and near the end of my three weeks there, a local artist had the six or so artists at the residency over for dinner. Finding vegan fare in Newfoundland had been a challenge until that point, so imagine my joy upon visiting this artist’s lovely home to find out that she had made this wonderful naturally vegan dish with me in mind, having spent some time in Africa, and being familiar with plant-based foods from that region.

I compared this to other versions of traditional kunde online and it looks like my host took some liberties with the customary recipe (this is pretty much the recipe she wrote down for me, with a few tweaks from us).  Since kunde is simply Swahili for black-eyed peas, the recipe can probably be pretty much anything that uses vegetarian ingredients readily found in Kenya.  It always has black-eyed peas, but some recipes highlight the role of the tomatoes and most emphasize the addition of peanut butter or peanut oil, whereas ours has none and contains coconut milk instead. None seem to have corn.  Our dish looks more like a cross between kunde and a dish called M’Baazi, which does have coconut milk, but is often served cold.  It also resembles recipes from the Caribbean.

Regardless of the authenticity of the recipe, let me assure you that this version is delicious.  It left me swooning upon first (and second and third) helping back in 2005.  Mark and I used to make it a lot when we lived in Chicago and finally decided to revisit it again tonight since we had all of the ingredients on hand.

If anyone knows anything more about kunde, or has recommendations for other African dishes, please let us know; we’d love to expand our African cooking repertoire.

East African Kunde (by way of a hospitable Newfoundlander)

  • 1.5 cups corn
  • 1 cup cooked black-eyed peas
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 -2 tbsp brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like this)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • cooking oil
  • salt, to taste

If serving over brown rice, begin that first so it can be cooking while you prepare the kunde. In a large frying pan, sautee the onion over medium heat. When the onions become soft, add all of the spices. Next, add in the tomato, corn, and black-eyed peas. Finally, pour in the coconut milk. Next, mash the beans up a bit with a spoon or potato masher if desired.

Allow to simmer for 30 – 45  minutes, until liquid has reduced.

Serve over brown rice, couscous, or quinoa.

Bliss = achieved.

Note: We typically double this recipe so as to have leftovers.  This recipe serves about 4-6 depending on portion size.

Another note: My host mentioned referring to the recipe for kunde in The Spices of Life by Troth Wells, which looks fantastic!  We’ll have to pick up a copy for sure.


#1 lydija dahl on 05.18.11 at 8:40 am

Two of our favorite African recipes are (and our teenage son loves these) Ethiopian Cabbage Dish:
olive oil for frying
4 carrots & 1 onion (sliced thin)
1/2 tsp salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric
1/2 head of cabbage (shredded)
5 potatoes (peeled & cubed – 1″ pieces)

Fry carrots & onions until soft, add in spices (you can modify spice amounts to taste) and cabbage – cook on med-low for another 15 – 20 minutes. Add in the potatoes and cover to let cook until soft (about 30 min). Sometimes I have to add a bit of water. When cooked, serve with Injara (crepe like bread made with Teff).

The other favorite in our house is Berbere Stew (Lentil Stew)
Berbere Spice Mix (you can buy it or make it)
1 onion (chopped)
1.25 c red lentils (other lentils will do, but the colour of the red is nice)
2.25 c water
1 garlic clove (crushed)
2 tbsp berber spice mix
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Oil for frying

Fry onions until soft and add in rest of ingredients (except tomatoes) and cook until lentils are soft (about 30 minutes on med-low) – if water starts to dry out, add more during cooking. Add in tomatoes and cook for another 15 minutes. Again good with quinoa or any other grain and Injara.

Berbere Spice Mix:
1 tbsp of each of the following – cardamon, coriander, fenugreek, nutmeg, ground cloves, allspice, cinnamon, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, pepper, salt

I have a little jar I made with the spice mix and use it in lots of different meals.

#2 Coffee Maker on 05.22.11 at 8:18 am

Whoa, this looks like a recipe with a bite!

#3 mark on 05.24.11 at 12:32 pm

Hey lydija, thanks for the recipes! These look great. Strangely, we’ve never really experimented much with Ethiopian cooking at home–so these sound like great starters.

Coffee-maker, not really much of a bite actually. It’s more sweet and savory than spicy.

#4 Serena on 06.19.11 at 12:56 am

This looks amazing. I love African food. 🙂

#5 East African Kunde | One Green Tomato on 01.13.12 at 11:51 am

[…] and content copyright © 2009-2012 Danielle R Limoge.  Recipe adapted from Irreverent Vegan. Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

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