A taste of Ghana

My weekend has been busy. Baking and board games with the kids, hunting for sustainably produced furniture, potting seedlings on my balcony garden, the usual housework. It hasn’t left much time for blogging, so this week my Monday Music post is combined with a foodie post.

The soundtrack is Ghanaian classics. Here’s some palm wine music from Koo Nimo to get you in the mood.

So, the food. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

I realise this is probably not most people’s idea of ‘fresh’, but it is fresher than much of the food we eat in western countries every day.

Take your average mango smoothie. Sure, it tastes fresh, looks fresh, is freshly prepared, and perhaps freshens you up – but it is almost certainly made with frozen mango and reconstituted juice from fruits grown hundreds, if not thousands of kilometres away, and many months before you consume it. Not so fresh after all.

The ampesi ni kontomire pictured above, on the other hand, is about the freshest food you could wish to eat. It was my favourite lunch when I stayed in DadaK’s village for 6 weeks in the late 1990s. Last time I was there one of my sisters-in-law remembered this, and prepared it for me again.

Taro leaves (kontomire), cut from Ohemaa’s farm immediately before being boiled and ground with onions and chilli, then smothered in palm oil made from locally grown palm nuts. Served with boiled plantains (ampesi) that were also fresh from the farm that morning. Eaten with fingers (hence the bowl of water).

Ok, the palm oil was a bit older than the other ingredients, but let me tell you, no self-respecting Ghanaian would serve rancid oil, so in my view it counts as fresh too.

Sadly you won’t get it as fresh as this in Australia, unless perhaps you happen to be growing plantains and taro (a.k.a cocoyam) in your backyard, but if you want to try it out, here’s a recipe for a Fante version of ampesi ni kontomire. It’s slightly different to what I had in the village but I’m sure just as tasty.

Ghana Street food #4: snacks

Condensed milk sweets, home-made by Abrantie for AM's birthday. A bit darker than you'd find in Ghana, but otherwise typical.

Condensed milk sweets, home-made by Abrantie for AM’s birthday. A bit darker than you’d find in Ghana, but otherwise typical.

After all the excitement of my last Ghana street food post on turkey tails, what can I possibly say about Ghanaian street snacks that would impress you?

Well, probably quite a lot.

I could marvel at the scary woks full of boiling oil at about toddler height, where street sellers deep-fry meat pies, yams, koosé.

I could mention how if researching etoh (pounded yams with palm oil and peanuts) you will enter into the realm of things that are hard to find on Google. I wondered if it’s because I don’t have a Twi keyboard to spell it correctly? I believe it should be ɛtoh. (I stole that character). But no, now impossible to find. (Oh wait, I just made it possible, hehe …. so to add value for Googlers, apparently you can find a recipe in this book.)

Continue reading

Astonishing tails: Ghana street food #3

fried turkey tails in glass-sided box

Turkey tails as I’ve seen them for sale in Ghana. Thanks to http://mokocharlie.com for permission to use this pic. Check out their site for lots more great pix of some of the things I blog about.

Did you know that turkey tails are ‘among the most controversial foods in the world‘?

Did you even know that people ate turkey tails?

Well in Ghana they do … or did … or are trying to; against all odds.

The story reads like a thriller. Continue reading

The good oil?

Using a machete to deparate palm nuts from the cluster.

Aunty Akosia at the beginning of the long process of producing palm oil in the village. (Or she may have been going to make palm nut soup, I actually can’t remember, but they both start the same way).

I have often written here about how much I love palm oil. It has a flavour like no other oil. Only yesterday I was telling a friend about a meal I once ate in Accra, that consisted of not much more than very fresh white fish, onion and chilli, almost completely submerged in this rich red oil and eaten with kenkey. Swoon.

I realise that this passion may sound a bit suspicious to people who don’t know about palm oil’s important place in Ghanaian cuisine, but are very much aware of the destructive impact of palm oil plantations in Asia. Continue reading

Ghana street food #2: main meals

I wanted to eat palm nut soup, but was happy to settle for RedRed. Have you spotted the Milo tablecloth?

Fried chicken with RedRed.

The first time I went to Ghana I was in such a state of culture shock that I was desperate enough to make myself a salad. This was a dismal failure and my first lesson in the perils of trying to mimic Australian food with Ghanaian ingredients, but it resulted in a lot of vegetable peelings and scraps which I thought the local hens would enjoy, just as my Auntie’s chickens did back home.

Wrong. The scrawny birds that darted in between my feet at mealtimes to peck at dropped fishbones and chilli-saturated grains of rice had absolutely no interest in carrot peel or lettuce leaves. I felt snubbed. And amazed. But later, I wondered if this is why Ghana chooks tastes so much better. Not only are they free range, they eat incredibly tasty table scraps. Continue reading

Ghana street food #1: breakfast

Cooking konkonte

Auntie Akosia (left) in charge of cooking konkonte in the morning. It’s hard work. One of her nieces is stirring and the guy with his mouth full is one of AM’s uncles – Akonta

Recently a friend put out a call on Facebook to his travelling friends to tell him about their street food experiences. He’s long had a love for street food and I’m anticipating he will blend his findings about it into a post or several on his most appetising and excellent food blog: Buth Kuddeh.

Sadly I am not travelling, but his request aroused all my nostalgia for Ghana’s street food – so here’s the first instalment of my street food adventures. Continue reading