Bonchi! One of my favorite Curaçolean dishes is Bonchi. And my favorite bonchi is made by my grandmother Oma Monchi, which obviously we call Monchi Bonchi. Bonchi normally isn’t vegan at all. It’s original state comes with Karni Sá and Rabu, which are salted meat and pig’s tail. And sometimes even with Rookworst or smoked sausage.

I preferably don’t eat pork. My body doesn’t react very well to it, but my taste buds seem to really like it so sometimes I cave. Still I always try to cook without it. And so this favorite had to be tested vegan style. I called some OG bonchi cooks and went over their process of cooking bonchi with them. One of my favorite discoveries, which surely I had to add, was given by my aunt Jenny. The beauty of Coconut. So now it’s actually a Vegan Sweet Coconut Red Bean Soup, but those were too many words to put in the title.

My aunt Gisela’s birthday is on the 31st of December and so on the 1st of January she always invites the family over to her house to start the year with a good home cooked bonchi. This is one of the things I surely miss while living in Portugal. But to still join in the spirit, I now also cook my batch of bonchi and eat it with them as a Curaçolean tradition. I hope you enjoy it too!

Headnotes

  • Servings: 6 bowls
  • Ready in: ± 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 jars of red beans (540 grams each jar)
  • 2 slices of white onion
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 500 ml of water
  • 1 can of coconut milk (400 ml)
  • 100 ml of condensed coconut milk
  • 1 cooking banana (plantain)
  • 2 tablespoons of desiccated (shredded) coconut

Directions

  • Start with the jars of red beans by pouring the water (the bean juice) that is inside of the jars out. You’ll notice that it won’t go that easy and that the water is actually very concentrated or starched. That’s ok. Pour fresh water in the jars, try to rinse the beans a bit and then pour the water back out. Repeat this for another two times. Then pour the beans in a big cooking pot. Turn on the stove on a medium high fire so the beans start to warm up.
  • Cut the onion slices in half so the pieces are still big and add them to beans in the pot. Add the salt, the cinnamon sticks and 300 ml of water and stir.
  • Add the coconut milk. Pour 100 ml of water to the can the coconut milk was in, stir it and add to the pot. Stir the bonchi and now try and mash half of the beans in the pot.
  • Add 100 ml of the condensed coconut milk to the bonchi. Slice the cooking banana and then cut the slices in four. Add the pieces to the pot and allow it to cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the last 100 ml of water and the shredded coconut. Stir the bonchi and allow it to cook on a low fire for another 15 minutes. Then turn of the stove and done!
  • The bonchi is served with rice (white, Basmati or Jasmine) and a spoon or two of white sugar. Depending how sweet you like it. Bon apetit!

Footnotes

  • Did you wonder why I try and get as much of the concentrated or starched bean juice out of the jars before I pour the beans in the pan? It’s because I’m degassing the beans. That what’s causing the beans to be gassy are oligosaccharides. The “saccharides” part of the word is sugar. In fact, it’s a sugar our bodies can’t digest well, so when it lands in the lower part of our digestive system, it ferments. And, well, we know how that process ends.
  • Do you only have dry red beans? No worries! The preparation will add some hours, but it’s easy. Place the dry beans (1 pack or 500 grams) in a pan with water and allow the beans to soak overnight. Yes, a good 10 hours if possible. Throw that water out and then allow the beans to soak another hour. Once again you throw the water out and then you cook the beans in fresh water for 45 minutes on a medium low heat. Make sure the water covers the beans by three fingers. Once done, you can pour that water out again and start the recipe from the top ignoring the parts that include the jars.
  • If you’re cooking for one and you want to freeze some in, then allow the bonchi to cool off for a good period of time first. My aunt advised me to even leave the bonchi out for a night. The next early morning you then pour the bonchi in the desired boxes and place them in the freezer. If you freeze it before it’s proper cooling time the bonchi can go bad. And you don’t want waste a good batch (sad emoji face).

Did you use this recipe? Please leave a comment with your experience! Feel free to share ideas, alternatives and tips.

Thank you!

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