• A newcomer to the mainstream food scene, the Bambara groundnut is an indigenous legume that has been used in traditional African and Indian dishes for centuries.

    You might know it by one of its many local names, like a jugo bean, ditloo marapo, izindlubu, hlanga, njugo, nduhu, phonda and tindhluwa.

    Rich in protein, fibre, calcium and B vitamins, Bambara groundnuts can be eaten fresh or dried. When fresh, roast and eat them as a snack; and when dried, boil them together with samp or grains for a clever nutritional combination that forms a complete protein.

    Cultivated in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, Bambara groundnuts grow in pods underground. There are seven varieties of Bambara groundnuts, with colours and sizes ranging from small, purple to large, cream-coloured seeds with black eyes. The class of crop as a whole features on Knorr and the World Wide Fund for Nature’s Future 50 Foods list as an ingredient that is both sustainable and nutritional, making it a better option when considering (or reconsidering) your pantry staples.

    Recipe, styling and photograph by Katelyn Allegra

    Assisted by Cassandra Upton

    Smoky chilli con carne with crispy Bambara groundnuts

    Serves: 4
    Total Time: 3 hrs


    • olive oil, to sauté + extra, to fry
    • 1 leek, sliced
    • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
    • 1 fresh red serenade chilli, seeded and sliced (find at woolworths.co.za) + extra, to garnish
    • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
    • 1 tbsp sweet smoked
    • paprika (find at yuppiechef.com)
    • 2 star anise
    • 500g beef mince
    • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (find at azteca.co.za)
    • 1 tsp Marmite
    • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 x 400g tin peeled and diced tomatoes
    • 100g sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated
    • 30g fresh coriander + extra, to garnish
    • 500ml (2 cups) water + 2L (8 cups) extra
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 380g Bambara groundnuts, soaked overnight
    • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
    • sour cream, to serve



    Heat a glug of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek, garlic, red serenade chilli and carrot, and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the sweet smoked paprika and star anise, and fry until fragrant, about 5 minutes.


    Add the mince and cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the meat has browned, about 15 minutes. Stir in the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, Marmite, Worcestershire sauce, peeled and diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh coriander and 500ml (2 cups) water. Season to taste. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the chilli con carne has thickened and the meat is cooked, 1 – 2 hours.


    Meanwhile, place the soaked Bambara groundnuts and 2L (8 cups) water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the groundnuts are tender, 1 – 2 hours. Alternatively, cook the groundnuts in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside until needed.


    Just before serving, toast the cumin seeds in a large, dry non-stick frying pan over medium heat until they start to pop, about 2 minutes. Add a glug of olive oil and the drained Bambara groundnuts, and fry until crispy, tossing regularly, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and season to taste. Set aside until needed.


    To serve, divide the chilli con carne among 4 serving bowls. Top each portion with the crispy Bambara groundnuts and a dollop of sour cream. Garnish with the chopped fresh coriander.

    Imka Webb

    Imka Webb is a freelance digital marketing expert and the digital editor of Food & Home Entertaining magazine.  www.imkawebb.com