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Isata’s olehleh

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  • Chef: Isata
  • Type: Sierra Leone
  • Serves: 6 to 8
  • Cost: 30p per person

Isata, food ambassador made this delicious savoury snack for one of the LEAP events as part of Black History Month. These savoury bean cakes are called ‘Olehleh’ in Sierra Leone where Isata is from, whilst in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa they are called ‘moi moi’. They are made from black eyed beans and traditionally steamed in a banana leaf. They are traditionally made with fish, but to make these vegetarian, Isata used carrots. You can also switch with other veg such as diced squash or mushrooms. It is important that dried beans are used in this dish rather than tinned. We served these with steamed plantain, roasted butternut squash and salad.




Serves 6

1 cup of dried black eyed beans, soaked overnight in three times volume of water.

1 red onion, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

1 carrot

2 tablespoons of olive oil plus extra for greasing

1 teaspoon of salt



  1. Soak the beans overnight in triple their volume of water.
  2. Drain the beans and then remove the skin from them – this process is a little time consuming but could be a fun job to get your kids involved with!
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 200c fan.
  4. Place the beans in a blender or food processor. Add about half a cup of water and blend until smooth.
  5. Add in half of the red pepper and half of the green to the bean mix, with the roughly chopped onion, salt, peeled garlic and olive oil. Blend again.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Finely chop the remaining peppers and the carrot. Stir this through the bean mixture.
  7. Grease a loaf tin, foil tray or cupcake tray, pour the mixture into the tray/tin and cover tightly with foil. Place some water at the bottom of a larger tray and place the smaller trays/tin in the larger tray – so they can steam this way whilst in the oven.
  8. Cook in the oven for approximately 40 minutes. The olehleh are ready when firm and a knife comes out clean.