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  • Jennifer Mueller

Eating in Ghana

Plane ticket check or almost. Visa need the plane ticket, insurance need the plane ticket. Shots check.

Traveling to another country food is always one of the first things you wonder about past sight seeing. Since I'm not going to sight see though food seems more of a concern right now. Kenya many things weren't that unusual, at least not in the area I was. Ghana seems to be a bit more exotic. Western regions' main dishes are akyeke (cassava-based, similar to couscous) served with avocado, fufu and light soup with mushroom or snails. Popular drinks are coconut juice, palm wine and akpeteshie.

In general though Ghanaian dishes are typically a combination of starchy and/or grainy staple foods, stews and soups. The main Ghanaian dishes eaten in Ghana West Coast are fufu (large dumplings made from pounded cassava and plantain), kenkey (steamed balls of fermented corn, wrapped in banana leaves), gari (roasted cassava grits), yaka yaka (flattened gari), akyeke (also known as atuku - a moist tapioca dish, eaten like gari), and banku (boiled balls of fermented cassava and corn).

These starchy and grainy foods are mostly eaten with bare hands (right hand only!) together with delicious spicy sauces, stews and soups, like nkontomire (a leafy vegetable stew made with palm oil), palm soup (soup made from the oil palm fruit), groundnut soup (peanut soup), and light soup (a peppery light tomato-based soup). Others are eaten with a salsa-like pepper sauce.

Other Ghanaian dishes are also available upon request, like red-red (fried ripe plantain with beans stew), ampesi (boiled yam or green plantain) with nkontomire, and Jollof rice (a spicy risotto). Naturally, fish and seafood abound in Ghana West Coast, so it is not surprising that many dishes are prepared or served with grilled, fried or smoked fish such as tuna, kingfish and barracuda. Lobsters and shrimps are often readily available.

AKOTONSHI (STUFFED CRABS) -- (makes 16, to serve 6-8)

2 lbs crab meat 1 tsp salt 1-inch piece of fresh ginger

4-6 cloves 4 tblsp cooking oil

1 small onion, minced

1 tsp ground ginger

2 tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tblsp tomato paste

2 green bell peppers, finely chopped

pinch of paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tblsp dried shrimp

1/2 cup whole-wheat breat crumbs

1 egg, hard-boiled and finely chopped

1 sprig parsley

Put crab meat in boiling salted water along with ginger piece and cloves. Cook about 15 minutes, until meat is tender enough to flake with a fork. Drain, flake and set aside. In a heavy pot, heat oil to a moderate temperature and add other ingredients in the following sequence, stirring for a minute or so between each: onions, ground ginger, tomatoes, tomato paste, green pepper, paprika, cayenne, and dried shrimp. Reduce heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until vegetables are cooked. Add crab meat and stir another couple of minutes to heat it through. Then spoon the mixture into clean crab shells or ramekins. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top of each crab and toast under an oven broiler, being careful not to let the crumbs scorch. Garnish with egg and parsley.

JOLLOF RICE

2 1/2 to 3 lb broiler-fryer chicken,

cut up 2 cans (16 oz each) stewed tomatoes

2 cups water 2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 cup uncooked regular rice

1/4 lb fully cooked smoked ham, cubed (3/4 cup)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground red pepper [or more to taste]

3 cups coarsely shredded cabbage

8 oz green beans (1 pkg, 10 oz, frozen French-style green beans, thawed can be substituted for fresh)

2 onions, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1/2 tsp salt Heat chicken, tomatoes (with liquid), water, 2 tsp salt and the pepper to boiling in 5-quart Dutch oven; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove chicken. Stir in rice, ham, cinnamon and red pepper. Add chicken, cabbage, green beans and onions. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer until thickest pieces of chicken are done, 20 to 30 minutes.

Groundnut / Peanut Soup

Ingredients # salt and pepper, to taste 2 large onions, finely chopped 4 large very ripe tomatoes or 13 ounces canned tomatoes 6 1/2 ounces creamy peanut butter 3 1/2 pints boiling water red chilies, to taste 4-8 mushrooms Meat - Any meat of your choice, pork, beef, fish or chicken.

Directions 1. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, peel off the skin and blend the flesh to a smooth juice. If using canned tomatoes, blend. Cut the meat into small pieces, wash and season with salt, garlic and chopped shallots. Add a little water, put it on the fire and allow to boil for about 10 minutes. 2. Put the peanut butter into a big bowl, add 3/4 pt. of the boiling water and use a wooden spoon or a blender to blend the peanut butter and water carefully together to form a creamy, smooth sauce. 3. Mix together the tomatoes, peanut butter mixture, red chilies and mushrooms. 4. Continue to simmer, stirring only occasionally to prevent the food sticking to the bottom of the pan. This is now the basic soup. 5. Pour the rest of the boiling water into the soup and simmer slowly on medium heat for 20 mins or so.

And for a little cocktail. This became a classic mixed drink, used as a hangover cure for those traveling on the passenger boat between Liverpool and the Gold Coast (modern Ghana) from the 1890s to the 1930s. It proved so popular that local bars began to sell it and it is made even to this day.

Brandy and Ginger Ingredients:

70ml brandy

100ml green ginger wine

ice cubes Place a few ice cubes in the base of a wine glass. Pour over the brandy and then the ginger wine. Serve immediately and sip slowly.

#travel #ghana #food

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