Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Corn Hausa Koko (Spicy Corn Porridge)

I just love this spicy koko (corn porridge)! I am not really a fan of koko and I never liked it as a child. However, I was always pleased to make and eat this spicy version of koko. Some Ghanaians also refer to it as Hausa koko but the real Hausa koko is made with millet and not corn. The reason for adopting the Hausa koko name is just because the same spices used in the  millet mix is used in this spicy koko. The level of hotness depends on personal preference so feel free to add or reduce the spices to suit your taste. The hotness of this recipe is mild.


INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 Cup Fermented Corn Dough (210g)
  • Thumb Size Fresh Ginger (15g)
  • 3 Cloves
  • 2 Hwentia (Grains of Selim)
  • 1 Red Bird Eye Chilli or any red chilli pepper
  • 2 Cups of Water
  • Hot Water
PREPARATION:

  1. Peel the ginger and grind together with cloves, pepper and hwentia (Grains of Selim) until smooth.
      
  2. Mix the ginger mixture with 1 cup of water.
  3. Add to the corn dough.
  4. Using your finger tips, mash the corn dough to remove all lumps.
  5. Add the other cup of water to the corn dough mixture. Mix well until well incorporated.
  6. Cover with Cling film and set aside for some couple of hours. Best refrigerated overnight.
  7. When ready to cook, sieve the dough mixture to remove the chaff from the ginger mixture.
  8. Put the kettle on and boil some water whilst getting on with step 9.
  9. Place the dough mixture on the hob on medium heat and stir continuously in one direction.
  10. Add a pinch of salt to taste.
  11. Continue stirring in one direction as the mixture thickens. Add the boiled water, which should still be hot, in small batches. Continue stirring, don't panic when it looks lumpy, just continue stirring in the same rhythm. Add as much water to lighten it to your preferred consistency for porridge. Always ensure the water is well incorporated in the porridge before adding another batch of water. Note that this porridge thickens more when it's taken off the heat and allowed to cool. So my tip here is to make it a bit lighter than your preference and when it cools you get the right consistency.
     
  12. Once the preferred consistency has been achieved, let the porridge boil for about 5 minutes to cook it through thoroughly. 
  13. Serve the porridge hot with toasted nuts, honey or any sweetener of your choice, evaporated milk and bofrot (doughnuts) or bread as a side. 

Friday, 25 September 2015

Roasted Peanuts

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 packet of red or pink peanuts

PREPARATION:

  1. Heat up the oven to 200oC.
  2. Place the peanuts on an oven tray and spread it out.

  3. Place peanuts in the oven to roast. 
  4. Check after 15 minutes. Shake the tray to roll the peanuts. 
  5. Put it back in the oven repeat step 4 until the peanuts are golden brown. It’s good to turn the heat down as soon as there is a light tan on the peanuts. Then allow the low heat to finally roast the nuts to perfection. 
  6. Once golden brown, take it out of the oven and let it cool down.

  7. Once cooled, peel the skin by massaging the peanuts with your palms or finger tips. To remove chuff, see the video here.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

5 African food bloggers you need to start following now - CNN EDITION POST 11 -09-2015

A week ago, I came across this press release which lifted my spirit so much and gave me enough encouragement to continue what I am doing. An article by Thomas Page of CNN mentioned Aftrad Village Kitchen as one of the 5 African Food bloggers to follow now,http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/11/travel/5-african-food-bloggers/index.html. I thought wohoo, this is great! To be mentioned as one of the 5 bloggers to follow now made me ecstatic. But what was more interesting was his summary about Aftrad Village Kitchen, in his own words:

  ‘’Great recipes? Check. Step-by-step guides? Naturally. Fully illustrated step-by-step guides? Even better. Aftrad Village Kitchen's no-nonsense blog is a lean, mean foodie machine, knocking up the best of Ghanaian cuisine on a weekly basis. Run by an ex-pat living in London via Accra and Botswana, it's all about helping "people connect with their African identity through food."Recipes span mains, desserts and sides; broad in their scope and often long in their ingredients lists. Special mentions go to street food dish Waakye and condiment Shito, Ghana's ubiquitous Black Pepper Sauce. Foodies buying the latter off the shelf, take note -- there's a lot more to it than you might think’’.

His summary is exactly what Aftrad Village Kitchen is set out to do. To share great authentic African recipes, provide step by step guide and easy to follow recipes and basically a vehicle to help people connect with their African identity. Yes this is what Aftrad Village Kitchen is all about. I started Aftrad Village Kitchen out of my passion to pass on and teach my children and others about their Ghanaian culture through food. Becoming an expat, I realised the pressing need for my kids to know their identity and be well routed in it. I also craved well loved dishes which I couldn’t easily get my hands on. I wish I knew how to make lots of them. I also realised, the ones I knew how to cook, I was gradually forgetting how to make them because I had not cooked some dishes in a while. My mum was my cooking mentor and inspiration but unfortunately she was no longer around for me to fall on for great tips and recipes. That’s when I thought, I need to start documenting what I know and gather information on other well loved foods, ingredients and dishes. A Ghanaian saying (in the local twi dialect) goes, ‘Amamre woho yi, yento ntwene’ meaning, we don’t discard culture. The fact that we live outside Ghana doesn’t mean we have to forget about our culture. What was even worrying was the fact that certain recipes were gradually dying out with the older generation in Ghana. Recipes were handed down by word of mouth or show and tell sessions done by our grandmothers, mothers, aunties, sisters, cousins etc generation after generation. There weren’t much documented recipes and even when they existed, they lacked measurements. Recipes were learnt using good judgement on the proportions of ingredients to use. So this is where the passion stems from. It is my desire that Aftrad Village Kitchen will be the place to reach out to when looking for authentic and traditional Ghanaian dishes and with time this would extend to other African dishes. If you share in this passion, or know someone who would benefit from this information, please do not hesitate to share and recommend. Also if you have a traditional recipe which you would like to share and preserve, please don’t hesitate to send it via aftradvillagekitchen@gmail.com. Let’s together help to preserve our traditional food and culture. Thank you.

Friday, 18 September 2015

How to skim off oil from Palmnut soup




This is the oil that was skimmed off the soup. Let it cool and store in the fridge for use within some couple of days or freeze for longer storage. Use the palm oil for abomu (see garden egg or kontomire abomu posts). This flavour infused oil will add to the taste of the abomu, making it so yummy.

Abe Nkwan (Palmnut Soup)

Ghanaians and soups, who can blame us! We love our soups, from light to thick based soups we love them all. We enjoy our soups all week round but weekends and particularly Sundays are days we love to sit, relax and enjoy a hearty soup. It's our soul food you see! We even have restaurants promoting Omo tuo (Rice balls and soup usually Abe Nkwan) Special days on Sundays.

Abe Nkwan is a hearty, satisfying and filling soup. It is basically made from palmnut fruit puree. The palmnut fruit is boiled to soften it and then traditionally pounded in a mortar and pestle. This separates the palm fruit chaff from the palm kernel. The pounding is done gently and with skill to prevent cracking the palm kernel shells in the process. There is always a skill which has got to be learnt in Ghanaian cooking! Hot water is then used to extract the palmnut fruit juice from the chaff. This is done  through a repeat process of soaking, mixing, squeezing, straining and re-pounding. Ha! are you thinking this is not for me! Too much work! Yes it was a lot of work to make good old Abe Nkwan. As a child I hated the process but I loved to eat the soup with my rice balls so I went through the process with the end result in mind. But guess what, advancement and technology has simplified the process and made making this soup so easy and quick. Palmnut fruit concentrate are now canned and sold in most good African shops and even some of the usual supermarkets do retail them. So yes, go ahead buy one and try this hearty soup. I am sure you'll love it as much as I do.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1kg Goat Meat (mixture of shoulder & leg)
  • 2 Small Pieces of Smoked Fish
  • 2 Stock Cube Meat Seasoning 
  • 2 Tsp Jumbo Crayfish Powder (alternatively use hard shelled shrimps)
  • 2 Tsp Egye Aware Spice Blend (alternatively use a combination of thyme, Star Arnise, Aniseed (nkitinkiti), Rosemary & Cloves) 
  • 1 Small Calabash Nutmeg ( Wide3 Aba )
  • 2 White Onions (Medium sizes)
  • Fresh Ginger (about the length of the index finger)
  • 5 Gloves of Garlic 
  • 1 Small Scotch Bonnet Pepper ( or to your taste)
  • 3 Fresh Tomatoes on the vine (Medium sizes)
  • 1 Small Can (400g) of Palmut Concentrate
  • Small piece of Aridan fruit (Prekese)
  • Water – about 3 litres
  • Salt to taste
METHOD:
  1. Cut up meat into medium sizes, clean and place in a soup cooking pot (a deep once is recommended).
  2. Add the meat stock, crayfish powder, spice blend and 1 tsp of salt to the meat. Rub well into the meat and let it sit on the kitchen counter to season for about 30 minutes.
  3. Blend one onion, ½ of the ginger and 2 gloves of garlic together. Use about 1/2cup of water to help with the blending.
  4. Add the blended mixture to the meat and stir.
  5. Place the other onion, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and scotch bonnet pepper on top of the meat.
  6. Now place the pot on the hob on medium heat. Cover the pot and let the meat simmer until nice and tender. You may not need to add extra water as the natural juices from the meat will cook it. However, keep an eye on it to prevent burning. If the meat is tough, add extra water if needed. 
  7. When the tomatoes and onions are soft, remove, together with the ginger and pepper. Blend all together.
       
  8. Add the blended mixture to the soup, cover and let it boil for about 15 minutes. Do this stage when the meat is tender.
     
  9. Blend the palmnut concentrate with 2 cans of water. Use the palmnut container/tin to measure.
        
  10. Pour the blended palmnut concentrate into the pot. Rinse out any palmnut concentrate left in the blender with a bit more and add to the pot.
  11. Add 1 litre of water to the soup and stir. 
  12. Turn up the heat and let the soup boil. Do not cover the pot at this stage. As the soup boils, it will foam up and rise to the top. That is why you don’t cover it and you need a deep soup pot to prevent over spill. A cooking tip here to help de-foam is to stir! 
  13. Add the prekese to the soup. Firstly wash and bruise the edges by cutting slits through it or bashing with a rolling pin. This helps the juice from the prekese to be released into the soup.
       

  14. When the soup has simmered down, turn down the heat and half cover the pot. Let it continue to simmer. A layer of oil will begin to form on the top of the soup.
  15. Now wash the smoked fish and add to the soup. Alternatively use grilled mackerel or any grilled or barbecued oily fish.
  16. Check the seasoning and add a bit of salt if needed. 
  17. Three tips to check that the soup is cooked are: 
    •  A) The soup simmers down, this is noticeable by the mark left from the original level of soup. 
    • B) A layer of oil is formed on the surface of the soup. 
    • C) The soup thickens and when taken off the heat and let to sit, it doesn’t separate into a layer of water and soup.
  18. When you tick the boxes for the above tips, then your soup is ready to be served. Skim off the oil from the top of the soup. Watch my video post on how to do this.
  19. Serve soup hot with fufu, boiled rice, rice balls, boiled yams, boiled potatoes, boiled ripe plantains or bread or just enjoy this hearty soup on its own. This soup gets tastier when left to rest overnight. So a good tip is to cook it a day before eating it.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Meko (Hot Pepper Salsa)

One of the first sauces I learnt how to make as a child is Meko. Grinding meko and being able to make the tastiest meko was one of the first lessons you were taught in the kitchen. Once you passed this test, you then graduated on to learning the main dishes. I guess most Ghanaians of my age and older will identify with this! In actual fact the basis of most Ghanaian sauces and soups starts with meko. So being able to make this basic sauce was very vital to your cooking journey. It also equipped you to make the quickest and simplest no cook meals.

So what's all this meko, that I'm talking about? It's basically a pepper, onion and tomato salsa! Actually when I first came to live in London and I got to know about salsa, I thought, oh yeah, but this is our meko! Ghanaians, however grind all the ingredients in an Asanka which basically an earthenware mortar with a wooden dumbell like pestle. In these modern times, people choose to make meko with a food processor rather than Asanka. I tell you people, it's not the same. You don't get the same taste and texture. Grinding helps the oils from the ingredients to infuse and blend together to produce a lovely aroma and taste. So if you've been taking a shortcut in making meko, you've been missing out on the real deal! Below is how to make the real deal.

INGREDIENTS:
  • ¼ Piece of Small Onion (preferably red onion or shallots)
  • Piece of Pepper to your taste (any type such as Scotch Bonnet Pepper, Kpakposhito (Pettie Belle)) 
  • ½ Thumb size Fresh ginger
  • 1 Medium size Tomato on the Vine
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Maggie Cube (Optional)

PREPARATION:

1. Peel the onions and ginger, for easy grinding dice onions and thinly slice ginger and put it in the Asanka. Alternatively, a mortar and pestle (usually used for grinding spices) can be used.


2. Add the pepper and salt. Grind all together until smooth.


3. Cut up the tomato, include the seeds and grind it into the pepper mixture.

4. Grind in the Maggie if using. But be careful to reduce the amount of salt or omit it totally.

5. Serve the Meko with fried yam and fish, kenkey, garri (cassava flakes), grilled fish, rice , fried ripe plantains, roasted plantains or anything you fancy.
   

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Ghana Tea Bread (improved recipe)

Ghanaians love their bread so much so that they would travel any distance and length just to get the freshest and finest bread. The are different types of bread such as brown bread, sweet bread, buns bread which are enjoyed in Ghana but the three main /popular ones are tea bread, sugar bread and butter bread. Out of the three popular breads, Tea Bread is the least sweetest and it's a bit more salty. If you don't like sweet breads then Tea Bread will be your take. Today, I will share a recipe for tea bread. Give this recipe a go and let me have your comments.

30-07-2016 So I bought some fresh yeast meaning to try my Ghana Tea Bread with it. However the yeast failed to proof. So I ended using regular dry yeast. Being a bit disappointed with the fresh yeast, I decided to do a test and revised the original recipe. I reduced the dry yeast from 18g to 15g and also increased the added water from 250ml to 300ml. This turned out to be a much better taste and texture hence recipe revised for you to try out. Always feedback will be appreciated. 


INGREDIENTS:
  • 600g Strong Bread Flour
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Sugar
  • 50g Butter melted 
  • 1 Tsp Nutmeg
  • 15g Dry Active Yeast
  • 300ml Water
  • 50ml Luke Warm Water for the yeast
METHOD:

1. Place the flour, salt, butter, nutmeg in a mixing bowl and mix together. Add the melted butter.


2. Put 50ml of the warm water in a bowl, add the yeast, 1 tsp sugar and whisk. Set it aside to froth. This may take up to 15 minutes.

3. Now add this to the flour mixture and mix until well incorporated.

4. Add the 300ml of water and mix the flour into a dough.

5. Knead the dough until it is very elastic.
 

6. Grease a glass bowl with butter. Roll the dough into a ball and place in the greased bowl. Rub the dough with the butter and turn the dough up, so the buttered face is up.

7.Cover the bowl with cling film and place in a warm place for the dough to rise. You can create a warm environment by warming up the oven to 100oC. When the set temperature is reached, switch it off and leave the oven light on.

8. Once doubled in size, this may take an hour, place on a floured surface and knead, knocking out the air. Cut it up into 6 equal pieces and knead it into a bun on a lightly floured surface. Alternatively Roll into oblong shapes. Lightly butter and flour your choice of baking tray. Place the buns in the tray, ensuring that they are equally spaced. If going for the oblong shapes, line a baking tray with baking paper, create compartments as shown and place the each dough in each compartment. Lightly dust the dough with flour, this is optional.

9. Cover with a damp warm cloth. Using a rolling pin or something suitable to prevent the cloth from touching the dough. 

10. Leave in a warm place for it to rise and double in size. This may take 30 minutes to an hour depending on the warmth of environment. Don’t let it over proof.

11. Heat up the oven to 180oC. Place the baking tray on a top shelf.

12. Bake the dough for 30 minutes and then place a bowl of cold water on the bottom shelf. This will create steam in the oven to help create a lovely crust on the bread.

13. Turn up the heat to 200oC and bake till the bread is light brown. This may take another 20 minutes. 

14. Once the light brown colour has been achieved, take it out of the oven, cover the bread with a cloth and let it rest to cool down. Remove the cloth after 5 minutes and continue to let it cool down completely.

15. Once cooled serve with your favourite beverage.