As I was walking down the street in Mbabane the other day, I passed a woman sitting by a huge bin of brown beady looking things. At first Ithought they might be roasted peanuts, but upon closer inspection, I saw that they were some sort of bean. I bought a bag and munched on them for the rest of the day, savoring their salty yet slightly sweet flavor. As I snacked on them, I held them up to my Swazi colleagues and asked what they were called. They looked amused that I was eating them and said, "Oh! It's tidlubu," but no one I asked could remember the English name for them. Finally Nokuthula remembered that they are called jugo beans English, which still didn't really help me much, as I had never heard of them before. They are also known as African groundnuts or bambara groundnuts. Either way, I was hooked, and the next time I was at the market, I found a bag of uncooked beans to try my own hand at it. They are so simple to make, yet they turn out to have such a powerful natural flavor that you don't need to add anything but salt, and that's even a matter of taste. They end up looking almost like candies when you turn them out on to the plate, sticking together like caramel would, but their flavor is a deep savory one that has just a hint of sweetness to it that is complemented perfectly by the tinge of salt. These are popular in many parts of Africa and are powerhouses of protein. I have never seen these in the U.S., but who knows? Maybe someone knows a place to find them. I just wanted to share with you all that if you have the chance to try them sometime, you should take it!
Boiled Bambara Groundnuts
2 cups jugo beans/African groundnuts/Bambara groundnuts
4- 8 cups water, more if needed
1 tbsp. salt
Wash the jugo beans and remove any defective ones. Place the beans in enough water to cover by several inches and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for 2 1/2 - 3 hours, adding water as necessary to cover. After about 2 hours have passed, and the water has turned to a soupy brown, add 1 tbsp. of salt and continue to boil until the water has almost entirely evaporated away. Drain excess water and place the jugo beans on a plate to cool. Add more salt as desired to your own taste. Eat plain as a snack, or add to rice for a pilaf, or roast in the oven, or add to your favorite tomato sauce for a delicious protein boost.