Adalu I Recipe - Nigerian Beans and Corn Dish

Adalu I

Adalu I Recipe - Nigerian Beans and Corn Dish
Region / culture: Nigeria | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 50 minutes | Servings: 4


Adalu I
Adalu I

Adalu is a traditional West African dish that beautifully combines the earthy flavors of beans and the sweetness of corn, creating a hearty and nutritious meal. This dish is a staple in many homes, especially in Nigeria, where it is enjoyed by people of all ages. Adalu is not just a meal; it's a cultural experience that brings families and communities together. The simplicity of its ingredients, coupled with the depth of its flavors, makes it a favorite for both everyday meals and special occasions.


The history of Adalu dates back several centuries and is deeply rooted in the culinary traditions of West Africa. It is believed to have originated among the Yoruba people of Nigeria, where it is still a popular dish today. The combination of beans and corn is not unique to Africa; however, the way Adalu is prepared and seasoned with local spices, such as crayfish and palm oil, gives it a distinct West African flavor. Over the years, the recipe has been passed down through generations, with each adding their own twist to the dish, making Adalu a timeless classic.


How to prepare

  1. Pick over the beans and sweetcorn, removing any stones or pieces of grit.
  2. Wash and cook the corn in water until soft, then add the beans and salt to taste.
  3. Cook until the mixture is soft and pulpy, approximately 40 minutes, adding more water if necessary.
  4. Add the pepper, sliced onions, and tomatoes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
  5. Remove the skin and bones from the sawa and flake it into small pieces.
  6. Add the flaked sawa to the beans, along with ground crayfish and palm oil.
  7. Check the seasoning and stir well.
  8. Allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Serve with fried ata sauce.


  • There are several ways to vary the traditional Adalu recipe. Some might include adding spinach or kale for extra greens, substituting black-eyed peas for a different bean variety, or using coconut oil instead of palm oil for a different flavor profile.
  • There are several variations of Adalu that you can try. Some people like to add spinach or kale for extra greens, while others prefer to use black-eyed peas instead of regular beans. You can also experiment with different types of smoked fish or even use grilled chicken for a different protein option. Feel free to adjust the spices and seasonings to suit your taste.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To achieve the perfect Adalu, there are a few tips and tricks you should keep in mind. First, ensure that the beans are thoroughly picked over to remove any stones or debris. Soaking the beans overnight can reduce cooking time and make them more digestible. When cooking the corn, use fresh corn cobs if available, as they tend to be sweeter. Adding the palm oil towards the end of the cooking process helps to retain its flavor and nutritional value. Lastly, be generous with the crayfish, as it gives Adalu its distinctive taste.

Serving Suggestions

Adalu can be enjoyed on its own or served with a side of fried ata sauce for added spice and flavor. It also pairs well with steamed rice, plantains, or a simple green salad for a more filling meal. For a traditional touch, serve Adalu in a clay pot or bowl.

Cooking Techniques

The traditional method of cooking Adalu involves simmering the beans and corn together until soft, then adding the other ingredients to cook until the flavors meld. For a quicker version, you can use canned beans and corn, although the taste may differ slightly from using fresh ingredients. Another technique is to cook the beans in a pressure cooker to reduce cooking time.

Ingredient Substitutions

If you don't have palm oil, you can use vegetable oil or coconut oil as a substitute, although the flavor will be different. Ground crayfish can be replaced with shrimp powder or omitted entirely for a vegetarian version. If smoked fish is not available, smoked turkey or chicken can be used as an alternative.

Make Ahead Tips

Adalu is a great make-ahead meal, as the flavors tend to deepen when left to sit. You can cook a large batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to a month. Simply reheat on the stove or in the microwave when ready to serve.

Presentation Ideas

Serve Adalu in a colorful bowl to highlight the vibrant ingredients. Garnish with fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley for a pop of color and flavor. A side of lime wedges can add a refreshing zest to the dish.

Pairing Recommendations

Adalu pairs well with a variety of drinks, from simple water to more flavorful options like ginger beer or hibiscus tea. For a complete meal, serve with a side of fried plantains or a fresh salad.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store leftover Adalu in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month. To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator if frozen, then warm on the stove over medium heat, adding a little water if necessary to prevent sticking. Microwave reheating is also an option, using a microwave-safe container.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Adalu is relatively low in calories, making it an excellent choice for those watching their calorie intake. The exact calorie count can vary depending on the proportions of ingredients used, but a typical serving contains approximately 300-400 calories. This makes Adalu a filling yet light option for a main meal.


Adalu is a good source of carbohydrates, primarily from the beans and corn, which are integral components of the dish. Beans are a complex carbohydrate, providing a slow and steady release of energy, while corn adds a touch of sweetness and is a simpler carbohydrate. Together, they make Adalu a satisfying meal that can help fuel your day.


The primary source of fat in Adalu comes from the palm oil used in its preparation. Palm oil is rich in saturated fats, but it also contains some monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It's important to use palm oil moderately to keep the dish healthy. The smoked fish (sawa) and ground crayfish also contribute small amounts of healthy fats, making Adalu a well-rounded meal.


Beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein, making Adalu a great option for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. The addition of smoked fish further boosts the protein content of the dish, providing essential amino acids necessary for muscle repair and growth. This combination makes Adalu a protein-packed meal that is both nutritious and filling.

Vitamins and minerals

Adalu is rich in vitamins and minerals, thanks to its diverse ingredients. Beans are a good source of iron, magnesium, and potassium, while corn provides B vitamins, especially niacin and vitamin B6. Tomatoes and onions add vitamin C and additional B vitamins to the dish. Together, these ingredients make Adalu a nutrient-dense meal that can contribute to a healthy diet.


Adalu is generally free from common allergens such as gluten, nuts, and dairy. However, individuals with allergies to legumes should avoid beans, and those with seafood allergies should omit the smoked fish and crayfish. Always check the ingredients if you have specific dietary restrictions or allergies.


Overall, Adalu is a nutritious and balanced meal that provides a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, along with essential vitamins and minerals. It's a low-calorie dish that can fit into various dietary needs, making it a versatile and healthy option for any meal.


Adalu is a flavorful and nutritious dish that embodies the rich culinary heritage of West Africa. With its simple ingredients and versatile preparation methods, it's a meal that can be enjoyed in many different ways. Whether you're looking for a hearty dinner or a nutritious lunch, Adalu is a delicious option that is sure to satisfy.

How did I get this recipe?

The moment I found this recipe is one that will always be special to me. It was a sunny afternoon, and I was rummaging through the old recipe box that my mother had passed down to me. As I flipped through the yellowed index cards and faded scraps of paper, I stumbled upon a worn piece of parchment tucked away in the back of the box. The title at the top read "Adalu I" in elegant cursive script, and my curiosity was piqued.

I had never heard of Adalu I before, but the ingredients listed below the title were familiar to me - black-eyed peas, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and a blend of spices that I knew would create a fragrant and flavorful dish. As I read through the instructions, I could almost imagine the delicious aroma wafting through my kitchen.

I knew that this recipe was something special, something that had been passed down through generations. It was a glimpse into the culinary traditions of my ancestors, a connection to a time and a place that I had never known. I could almost hear the voices of the women who had come before me, sharing their knowledge and their love of cooking.

I decided then and there that I would make Adalu I for dinner that night. I gathered the ingredients and set to work, following the instructions on the parchment with care and attention to detail. As the pot simmered on the stove, I could already tell that this dish would be a new favorite in my repertoire.

When I finally sat down to eat, I was transported to a different time and place. The flavors of the black-eyed peas mingled with the tangy tomatoes and the spicy peppers, creating a harmony of tastes that danced on my tongue. I could almost imagine the laughter and chatter of a family gathered around the table, sharing stories and memories as they enjoyed this delicious meal.

As I savored each bite, I knew that this recipe would become a staple in my kitchen. It was more than just a dish - it was a connection to my past, a link to the generations of women who had come before me. It was a reminder of the importance of tradition and the power of food to bring people together.

Since that day, Adalu I has become a regular feature on my menu. I have shared the recipe with friends and family, passing on the tradition that was entrusted to me. And each time I make it, I am reminded of that special moment when I discovered this hidden gem in my recipe box, a treasure that will always hold a place in my heart.


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