Frejon (Coconut Bean Dish)
Frejon can be translated to mean a coconut bean dish made from black beans, coconut milk and white sugar. While popular in Nigeria, Frejon has it’s origins in Brazil and Portugal. Frejon is a delicious dish that finds a sweet, yet delicate balance from the addition of coconut and sugar. It is traditionally eaten on Good Friday, during the Easter season and is usually served with toasted garri/dried & ground cassava and fish stew.
Oft times, you will see Frejon described as a paste, pudding or a soup. I choose not to use either term, because the final consistency of Frejon is really based on personal preference. Frejon can be made thin enough to be described as a soup and it can be made thick enough to be described as a paste (think tomato paste/de rica). Also, when I think pudding, I think of a more wobbly, yet thicker consistency and Frejon doesn’t fall into that category. Also, who wants to eat a paste? That’s really not appealing, now is it?!
I prefer Frejon to have a consistency in the middle of soup and paste, so something similar to a custard/pudding consistency. Frejon will also thicken up after it’s left at a somewhat thinner consistency, so care needs to be taken not to make it too thick from the onset.
As mentioned, Frejon is made from black beans, known in Yoruba as Ewa Ibeji, however, these are hard to come by in the States, so I made the dish using Ewa Oloyin (Honey beans). The result taste wise is the same, the main difference is in the visual as Frejon is usually of a darker brown color. However, what really matters is taste!
Frejon is quite easy to make and really hard to go wrong with even if it’s your first time making it. It’s as close to a Nigerian dessert as you’ll come owing to it’s sweet nature. It’s also cheap to make. I would recommend it as a special occasion dish, perhaps once every couple of months. Just because it’s a Good Friday dish, doesn’t mean you can’t eat it any other time of year.Be sure to read through the notes section!
Frejon is a MUST TRY dish! You’ll love it!
Requested Recipes are a series of posts geared towards recipes YOU’ve requested! Thanks to Ronella, Heidi and @MadamPeppa for the request! If you’d like a particular recipe featured, let me know!
Enough already! On with the recipe! To learn how to make Frejon, here’s what you’ll need:
Recipe Cost: $10.24 Prep: 30 mins Cook: 1.5-2 hrs Difficulty: Beginner Serves: 1-2
- 2.5 cups of brown honey beans (ewa oloyin)
- 1-2 cups coconut milk
- 1/2 cup coconut water with pulp (optional)
- 1-2 cups granulated white sugar
- 1 Knorr cube
1. Pick beans if necessary to remove dirt, stones, weevils
2. Add beans to a pot; add enough water to cover beans completely *add no salt or onions*
3. Let boil continuously over medium heat for about 1-2 hours till soft and mushy; keep adding water as needed
3b. Keep boiling…
3c. and boiling…
4. Once beans is soft and mushy, strain extra liquid if any with a sieve, large bowl and a large spoon
4b. Stir beans around to strain extra liquid; use spoon to scrape underneath the sieve to rid it of extra liquid
5. Transfer the sieved beans to a bowl
6. Transfer sieved beans to blender
7. Add coconut milk to beans in blender
8. Add coconut water
9. Blend till smooth, add to dry pot over medium heat, let boil 5 minutes
10. Add knorr cube, stir
11. Add sugar, stir.
12. Let boil uncovered for 10-15 minutes over medium heat till it starts to thicken
13. Once it starts to thicken, stir constantly
14. After 5 more minutes, it should be cooked
15. Cover pot and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
16. After alloted time, Frejon is all done!
To make toasted garri:
Add garri to a dry pot over low heat
Stir garri till it toasts/darkens in color. Take off heat immediately
- If you are in Nigeria, you should be able to come across Ewa Ibeji or black beans. They are small and dark brown in nature, lending to the dark brown color of Frejon.
- As you can see I used honey beans and while the result was not as dark brown in color, it still worked. The chaff from the beans adds to the textured look which does not translate in taste. If you blend it till smooth, it should also not translate for you.
- You can soak the beans overnight to get it softer quicker, or you can just boil on the day of.
- You should not add any salt or slice any onions into the beans whilst it is boiling. You can slice 1 fresh clove of garlic to help it soften quicker.
- I prefer the Goya brand of coconut milk and coconut water, as they seem to be heavy on the coconut taste. I got these from a super Walmart. If you cannot find Goya, you can make do with another brand.
- I like to add a bit of coconut water with the pulp just to intensify the coconut taste in the dish. This is optional as you can use just coconut milk.
- You can add as much sugar as you’d like, but try not to overdo it. Start with less, stir and taste to gauge the sweetness and add more in small increments as you see fit.
- After turning the heat off the Frejon, it will darken in color and also thicken up a tad more. Don’t leave it on the heat for so long till it really thickens as it will become stiff and a bit unwieldy.
- For the consistency I like, if you notice in step #13, I tried to simplify it visually by using the cake batter method I learnt from my mom; before you count to 5, it should drop from the spoon.
- If you prefer the consistency I like, try to look for a cake batter consistency, it’s not too thick, neither is it thin. If you like it thicker, cook it longer, if you like it thinner, cook it for a shorter period.
- Garri also acts as a thickener when sprinkled over it, so if you make your Frejon quite thick, don’t use garri or just dust it across lightly. If your Frejon is thinner, the garri will also help thicken it up as well.
- I’ve never tried it with light or dark brown sugar, but I don’t forsee any problems with using brown sugar.
- I can’t recommend using sugar substitutes such as splenda or nutri-sweet, as I am not a fan of them. However, if you like them, you can try adding it.
- If you cannot find Ewa Ibeji, you can use honey beans (Ewa Oloyin) or black eyed beans/peas.
- You can use 2 Maggi cubes instead of 1 Knorr cube. A pinch or two of salt will also suffice.
- Frejon is traditionally served with toasted garri
- and with fish stew (I made fried fish stew using Tilapia)
- If you’d like to bring out your gourmet side, boil it long enough to cook and make it thin enough and serve it in Martini glasses with an unsalted cracker as a garnish.
Drool, baby, drool…
The Recipe Cost of $10.24 is approximate for me in US dollars, but should be used an estimate only. Please keep price fluctuations & exchange rates in mind. If you’re based in the US, the grocery store(s) you frequent might have the same items cheaper or more expensive than what I purchased.
If you’re international, please keep in mind that exchange rates vary constantly. I recommend using this site to convert it from US dollars to your local currency. You might also have some of the ingredients at home already, thereby reducing the cost.
If you’d prefer to see an individual ingredient cost breakdown, let me know!