The Proven Platter – Rwanda, April 2024

Hello Diners!

I am absolutely thrilled to be back in the role of volunteer Recipe Curator after several years off, and joining the current (fabulous) team of Georgia and Vinola, along with Kristina and Terri, who are also onboarding this year. I look forward to working with them and am really excited for the opportunity to discover new recipes for you to share with your families or at your chapter meeting.

This month our good works take us to Rwanda in support of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. I took my inspiration this month from “The Rwandan Cookbook,” and a blog post that I’d read about the produce markets in Rwanda. The stalls are usually overflowing with onions, tomatoes, avocados, bananas, and eggplant. One of the vendors had mentioned a dish made with the small green eggplants you find in Africa, stir fried with tomatoes and onions. It seems like everything has onions and tomatoes added to it. The addition of beans to the dish helps it stretch to feed as many bellies as possible. In Rwanda, beans are the main staple food providing households with a major source of protein. In fact, Rwandans have one of the highest per capita bean consumptions in the world. So, I put these ingredients together and came up with my version of Ububobe, or Stir-Fried Eggplant.


Ububobe (Stir-Fried Eggplant)

Here is my take on a typical dish you’d find at the Rwandan table. This is an easy recipe to prep and cook, all in about 30 minutes! I recommend trying to find an eggplant no larger than 1 pound if possible, as they can be a bit spongy; and I don’t find it necessary to peel it. In fact, leaving the peel on adds a bit of color and helps the cubes of eggplant hold together. I used one large heirloom tomato that was very juicy. If your tomatoes are not as juicy, you may need to add a splash of water or broth in order to keep things from sticking to the pot.

As for the beans used in the recipe, I think small red beans would be a more traditional choice, but please feel free to use whatever you have on hand. And while I always like to use fresh cooked beans if I have them, canned work well for this dish. One heaping cup of dried beans is approximately the same amount as a 14-ounce can, somewhere just shy of 2 cups.

I’ve kept the seasoning simple here as Rwandans don’t tend to eat spicy food, and very often just salt and pepper are the only seasoning. Enjoy!



4 tablespoons oil, divided
4 cups diced, unpeeled eggplant, 1/2” dice (about 1 pound)
1 heaping cup finely diced onion
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cups chopped tomato (about 1 very large)
1 (14-oz) can beans, drained, OR if using freshly cooked beans, about 2 cups
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: chopped tomato, parsley/cilantro, flatbread for garnish



Heat a large frying pan or a large pot over medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. You will want to choose a pan that will be able to accommodate most of the eggplant in one layer, more or less. It’s also important to make sure the pan and the oil are good and hot when you add the eggplant, otherwise the eggplant will absorb too much of the oil if the pan is too cool. Toss in the eggplant and give it a quick stir to coat with oil. Sprinkle with some salt and let it brown for a minute before giving it another stir. Continue to stir the eggplant every minute or so for the next 3-4 minutes.

Scoop the eggplant over to one side of the pan and add another 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onions to this oil and sauté for a minute before mixing in with the eggplant. Add the paprika and stir in with the veggies to bloom the spice. Next, add the tomatoes and the beans and sprinkle with some salt again. Lower the heat and simmer until everything looks soft and tender, about 5 more minutes. Note: If your tomatoes aren’t really juicy you may need to add a splash or two of water or stock to keep things from sticking to the pot or being too dry.

Total cooking time is about 10 minutes. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste. You will likely use more salt than you think you’ll need because eggplant and tomatoes will absorb a fair amount of salt.

This is one of those “ugly delicious” meals, so I served it garnished with some chopped tomato and parsley to brighten things up a bit. Traditionally this might be served with Ugali to scoop up the stew. Although flatbread isn’t really traditional here, it works!

Recipe and photo credit: Linda McElroy

Inspired by The Rwanda Cookbook