Monday, 26 April 2010

Ghana reflections part 2

More pics of the tropical Gold Coast. These were taken at Kakum National Park - it's a reservation site protecting a vast swathe of Ghana's rapidly disappearing rainforests. Did you know that just 15% of Ghana's original rainforests remain? Illegal and commerical logging are the predominate reasons behind the loss, but by visiting Kakum you are ensuring your money is being spent on protecting the rich bio-diversity within these forests.                                                                                          

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Unusual similarities - Chinese and Ghanaian food

Who would have thought, Ghanaian and Chinese cuisine sharing any similarities! All you hardcore I-can't find-any-good-fufu-in -London Ghanaians are probably thinking it's as unlikely as finding a Mexican burrito in Mokola Market - just wouldn't happen, right?  Well, you're kind of right. If you recall, I touched upon Chinese/Ghanaian food in my post Ghanaian cuisine and it's really not that much of an anomaly. Recently, over the last 10 years or so, Ghana (namely Accra) has seen an influx of immigrants from China, Thailand and India travel to its sandy shores to set up businesses along with the more established Lebanese communities who have been residents in Ghana since the 50s, as my Mum warmly remembers in an innocently, sightly un-pc way - 'They owned all the shops'. So, walking through Accra today you will find a number of Chinese restaurants and Ghanaians LOVE an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet for 3 cedis!


My Mum came home last week with a bottle of Chinese chili sauce she'd picked up from Wing Yip and as she was preparing dinner she mused, ' It's just like shito'. After a quick inspection of the ingredients, I realised how right she was! Made from fried and minced shrimps with chili powder, the sauce is identical - so, is it Ghanaian chili sauce or Chinese chili sauce - I prefer Ghanese myself. What do you think of my pretty naff amalgamation? Thoughts please!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Nutty orange toffee pieces - Nketia cake

I've decided to lay off the savoury tone of the blog for a couple of recipes (maybe?) so here we have a sweet dish, one which I've only eaten once or twice as a wee lad in gray knee highs with ashy elbows. After thinking about  the ingredients and how to make it, I thought, 'It's just too easy', but my Mum assured me it's a Ghanaian classic and for the very ease of preparation I should definitely include it in the blog - Well, no more convincing needed on my part, so here it is!


3 tbsp soft brown sugar
Large knob butter/margarine
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 heaped tbsp of crushed macadamia nuts

Heat the brown sugar in a pan with the butter until boiling and bubbling, all the while stirring vigourously or until the consistency is smooth and brown like molten caramel. Add salt and stir until mixture starts to thicken and finally add nuts and the orange juice. Pour the mixture into a small dish and refridgerate until hard. In Ghana they form the mixture into small bite-sized balls once heated and the orange juice is a little creative aside, for this recipe I poured the mixture into a dish and once hardened I broke them up into small pieces. Perfect to pop into a bag for on-the-go nibbles.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Goat chichinga and sweet potato fries with a shito salsa

I first tried chichinga when I visited Ghana as a child. I recall walking up to the man who sold them at the side of the road near my Uncle's bungalow and exclaiming quite proudly, 'I want 50 cedis kebabs!' Imagine saying that as a pompous eight year old and you can envisage how the vendor probably wanted to roast me on the grill. After paying, I was literally given a bag of about 40 hot and spicy chichingas - for 50 cedis- it's like buying a car with the change from a pint of milk. Wow, one devalued currency meant one happy kid!

As you can see from the picture on the right, these are SERIOUSLY saliva inducing and they're just so easy to make! Chichinga (pronounced che - ching - aah) can be made from a variety of different meats like beef, guinea fowl, chicken and liver and are prepared on skewers similar to the ubiquitous kebab. The typical coating of chichinga combines cornmeal with ginger, chili and grounded peanuts and the finished product is quite firm. I've given my chichinga's a slightly creative egde by using thyme and paprika and teaming them with crisp, sweet potato fries dusted with cumin and a chunky shito salsa which is a fiery Ghanaian condiment eaten with a number of traditonal recipes. So, here's my version and you'll need the following -


200g goat meat cubed           A generous sprinkle of salt         
1 small red onion                 1 tbsp crushed peanuts
1 small green pepper            For the fries
For the marinade               1 sweet potato
1 tsp hot paprika                  1/2 cumin
1/2 tsp peanut/seasame oil    200 ml virgin olive (approx)
1/2 tsp hot cayenne pepper   For the shito
                                                       1/2 tsp black pepper             1 tomato
                                                       3 springs of fresh thyme         1 scotch bonnet pepper
                                                                                                    1/2 small white onion
                                                                                                    A pinch of rock salt
Extras - wooden kebab skewers.

Start this recipe by cubing the goat meat into nice bite sized pieces and set aside. Combine the paprika, cayenne, black pepper and sesame oil together in a bowl. Chop up thyme and add to the mixture and then add the goat meat and coat evenly. Using sesame oil lends a rich, nutty undertone to the meat which works deliciously with the intensity of the paprika and pepper - YUM!. Leave to marinade for 1/2 hour. In the meantime, peel the sweet potato and cut into thin slivers and place in a large bowl of water, pop your skewers in the bowl of water as well and leave until time to cook. Placing the potato in water before cooking removes the starch so will result in a nice, crisp fry and immersing the skewers in water prevents them from charring under the grill. While the meat is marinading, you can prepare your shito salsa. Chop up your tomato and onion into large pieces and add to a blender along with the scotch bonnet pepper and blend into a chunky pulp, remove and place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and then refridgerate.
Your kebabs should now be ready for the grill. Grab your red onion and green pepper and cut into small pieces. You may need to snap your skewers in half if they're too long! Alternate the veg with the meat along the skewers. Once done place on a sheet of foil and place under the grill for 5 minutes on each side, a minute less if you like them particularly rare. Now you're ready to fry the potatoes! Half fill a pan with oil and heat until very hot; drop in small batches of potato and fry until golden brown, remove and place in a bowl lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil and place in the oven. Repeat method until finished. Cover potatoes with cumin and mix together, add salt if desired and then devour like no one's looking! So, what do you think?