½ cup pearl barley
2 tablespoons coconut oil or plain oil such as sunflower
4 stalks curry leaves, leaves only
1 onion, sliced
½ teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3cm-piece ginger, finely chopped
1-2 red chillies, finely chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, ground
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, ground
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, ground
1kg pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, chopped in 2cm cubes
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
200g kale, leaves stripped from stems
1 x 400g can black beans
juice of ½ lemon or 1 lime
¼ cup roasted peanuts, chopped

This vegan stew is based on West African maafe but using beans for added protein and barley for a rounded meal in one pot. Serve with rice if you want a heartier meal.

I always use freshly ground spices but you can use pre-ground, or it’s even fine to use 2 tablespoons of a premixed curry powder in place of all the spices for an extra-easy version. The amount of chilli you use is up to you – I like to add one at the beginning and add extra heat with a drizzle of sriracha in the bowl as it adds a nice, hot and tangy dimension.

You need to soak the barley overnight to speed up the cooking process. If you forget, pour boiling water over the barley in a bowl and soak for one hour.


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1.Soak the barley in water overnight. Drain.
2.Heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish over a medium heat.
3.Add the curry leaves and cook for 1 minute until crisp then scoop out half and drain on a paper towel.
4.Add the onions and salt and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5.Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes then stir in the chilli, coriander, cumin, turmeric and fenugreek and stir through for 30 seconds.
6.Add the pumpkin, barley, peanut butter, stock and 500ml water and bring to the boil.
7.Reduce to a simmer, half cover and cook for 15 minutes.
8.Shred the kale finely and stir in along with the beans and cook for about 5 minutes until the beans are hot, then stir in the lemon or lime juice.
9.Taste and season to taste with salt and pepper.
10.Serve scattered with curry leaves and peanuts.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Lascelles