Ghanaian Cooking

by Jeanne


Really, I don’t know what to say. I can’t begin to explain this at all.  But I’ve been conditioned to look for signals, to have a heightened awareness for repeated references. And for whatever reason, in the last 48 hours, I am hearing about Ghana all over the place.  Certainly there’s no rational reason whatsoever.

First it was an Eat Feed episode entitled "Kitchens" that I heard a bit about the cultural history of this regional cooking. If you don’t have a subscription to this podcast I’m not sure you can call yourself a foodie. Fran Osseo-Asare, founder of the African Culinary Network shared her 30 plus cooking experiences in this country.

Of course I wasn’t paying much attention to the finite details but Ms. Osseo-Asare is the editor of Betumi Blog. {BAY-to-me} I ran across her blog as I was conducting on a random search on World Cup Soccer (I’m trying to develop a deeper appreciation of something the world is in love with but we Americans are casual about).  It’s a young blog but it promises much in the understanding of this type of cuisine. Really how much do YOU know about fufu?

And the third reference was hearing Anthony Bourdain talking about his new book ‘Nasty Bits’ up on NPR.  In this interview he talks about Nambia and Ghana where he drank palm wine and explored the cuisine which he says,  "The food in Ghana is terrific in particular. It’s spicy, a lot of stews, very colorful, hearty stuff."

So I’ll admit it.  I know nothing about this type of world food. But what I do know is that in the next few years we’ll see a growing interest in the food of this continent. Particularly since superstar chef Marcus Samuelsson is applying his skill and time to with a new cookbook, The Soul of a Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa (due out in Sept.’06). I know I’m looking forward to the class he’s teaching at this year’s Gourmet Institute, Africa on My Mind.

So here’s a peek into what comprises this regional food of West Africa:

"Soups are the primary component in Ghanaian cuisine and are eaten with fufu (either pounded plaintain and cassava or yam), kokonte (cassava meal cooked into a paste), banku (fermented corn dough), boiled yam, rice, bread, plantain, or cassava. The most common soups are light soup, palmnut soup, and groundnut (peanut) soup. Other Ghanaian favorites include gari foto (eggs, onions, dried shrimp, tomatoes and gari), agushie (squash seed sauce, tomatoes and onions), omo tuo (mashed rice balls with groundnut soup), jollof rice, red-red (fried plantain and bean sauce), kenkey (boiled fermented corn dough) and fish, kelewele (deep fried and heavily spiced plantain) and shito (hot pepper sauce)."                From GhanaCoUK

After all any food that offers chile peppers and plantains as a foundation is worth checking out. 

Recipe:  Traditional Dark Chile Sambal

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Image: Hand-Woven Asante Ceremonial Cloth, Hohoe, Volta, Ghana