Waakye and other deliciousness

Ok so maybe I lied a little about being regular, but just a little haha, one must excuse the lapses caused by the pressure of college etc. etc. However, the time has not been wasted, bien au contraire…

Of course, one must know how to make jollof rice. All the ingredients are readily available: rice, tomatoes, onions, beef or whatever protein one likes to accompany one’s meal (For those who ignored their mother’s offer of lessons, a recipe shall be put up, although I think it unnecessary). The trick for me since I took up residence amidst the cornfields of Indiana has been how to make a decent waakye without the leaves.

No cheating on this one, I searched for those waakye leaves, high and low.  I checked the section at WalMart that caters to Hispanic foods since they can have some interesting stuff (one time I discovered they had Maggi cube, which sent me over the moon even though it was this odd soft, squooshy version, I even found corn husks which shall come in useful on my aboloo adventure). Of course I didn’t find them but then something caught my eye: black beans.

I guess we can tell where this is going.

Ok, so I do not have much waakye-making experience even from back home so I checked online and saw what other people were doing, weirdness included, but one overlapping factor was baking soda. I understand why; have you ever tasted waakye that is kind-of-almost powdery in your mouth? I guess that’s what they were going for since baking soda is used to make cake, biscuits etc. more flaky. [NB: be VERY careful with how much you put in, it can go from good flaky to bad flaky in a rush, you dont want to be chowing on chalk]

I tried two types of waakye using the following combinations:

Brown rice, black eyed peas (the Ghana man’s “normal” beans)

White long-grained rice, black beans

The brown rice wasnt too bad, but I messed up on the cooking time for the beans so they pretty much went mush   (cooked them for too long before I added the rice)

I actually LOVED the white rice and black beans. I changed the soaking water for the beans so that the rice wouldnt turn black, but some of the lovely dark blue-purple color carried over and it almost looked authentic. I also found that after subsequent heating and refridgeration, it tasted much better than it did initially.

Recipes shall be posted in a bit, no promises haha, since I have been blasted for breaking my initial vow, and so this is a Ghanaian child

Signing out.

P.S. Coming out, in the near/distant future is an aboloo special documenting my failures to date. I adore aboloo and so I have been trying to find a recipe for it, but it will probably take ages to find one remotely similar. Also, if anyone has anything they would like me to try to make, do say in the comments section. Thanks for reading this!

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The First Experiment: Tatale

Okay to kick off the adventure I decided to do kelewele, but when I took my plantains out of the fridge the skin had turned black. Some people throw them away when they see that but the typical West African cook knows that this is the height of deliciousness when the plantain is sweet and sticky in its skin. So I decided to make tatale or ‘tatar’. As I said earlier, I am looking to facilitate the preparation of Ghanaian food outside places where the ingredients are available, and so I decided to use what I would have if I did not have any plantain. The obvious substitute for plantain is banana because they are in the same species, they looks similar and kind of taste similar, but I will admit, I was highly apprehensive approaching this experiment.

So I assembled the usual suspects, onion, ginger, salt, red pepper (meaning chilli or red pepper flakes, whatever you use) and my two plantains. I was going to cheat and use my newly acquired apotorewa but decided to be an honest girl and use my hand or the blender ( the hand won out because my darling blender is not the best). I peeled my two plantains into a saucepan and I peeled the banana into a bowl and mashed them separately with a fork and commenced from there (see full recipes under the Recipes tab). I also decided to experiment with vegetable oil versus palm oil.  It was an interesting alimentary experience.

The Taste Test

Plantain Tatale with Palm Oil/Vegetable Oil:

The type of oil used here is just a matter of preference/availability. I personally prefer the palm oil.

Banana “Tatale” with Vegetable Oil:

It was quite a surprise that this turned out edible, it was very similar to the plantain in vegetable oil but definitely sweeter and of course the taste was slightly different.

Banana “Tatale” with Palm Oil:

I had been quite encouraged by the success of the fritter hybrid above but please don’t try this one. It had a distinctly weird taste, bananas and palm oil most definitely do not do well together.

Conclusion

Plantains are a member of the banana family even though they are less sweet and are usually cooked before they are eaten. People do fry bananas, but this is more as a dessert-type thing. If you’re as brave and aimless as I am, you can try this with bananas that are slightly more unripe so that you don’t get too much sweetness. Lastly, I strongly do not recommend mixing palm oil and bananas.

Until the next food adventure, this is a Ghanaian child.

Signing out.

🙂

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Hello world!

It is almost exactly a year ago I that I arrived on this over-hyped continent for the purpose of pursuing a higher education. Little was I prepared for the horrors that awaited my palate. For the first two months of college, I struggled to keep food down because it was so bland. These people would put salt and black pepper on the food and call it seasoning, and when I said it did not have enough spice, handed me some contraption called hot sauce, which in of itself is not a bad idea, but where I come from, when I say spice I mean SPICES, not pepper.

In light of the abhorrent chow situation in the canteens, I decided to cook for myself on a regular basis. Another adventure onto its own, I was lost in the mere options, grateful that I did not see anything too weird (after having witnessed the unloading of perfectly round tomatoes as big as my head), and that their fruit and vegetables actually smelled like fruit and vegetables. I cannot vouch for their seafood though, the salmon is particularly suspect.

Of course, typical Ghanaian girl child that I am, at home I cooked for the family, and not at all badly, if I may say so myself, and so I was pretty well versed in the preparation of quite a few local dishes. Don’t get me wrong, I will eat my mbrofo edziban if it is properly prepared and seasoned, I do not discriminate against good food, but there is something about the strong, honest flavors of hot kelewele or gari and shito and sardines (Titus lol ) which just sends my taste buds into shockwaves of edible pleasure.

And so, now that I have conquered one full year without going home or dying of gastronomic affliction, I have decided to explore how the discriminating palate of a Ghanaian child such as myself, far away from home in rural Indiana, can survive by preparing adaptations of hardcore Ghanaian cuisine, using only what is available in the local grocery stores (although allowance must be made for special trips to the World Market in Indianapolis).

I would be most honored if you would join me on my journey. I promise to post regularly 🙂

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