Ghana: Kele Wele (Kelewele)

2 or 3 well-ripened yellow plantains (cooking bananas) (Note #1)
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped, OR
    1 1/2 tablespoons candied chopped ginger  (Note #2)
1 teaspoon salt or salt substitute

Mix together the red pepper, salt, ginger, minced garlic, chopped onion and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small bowl. 

Peel the plantains and cut on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick pieces.  Place in a large bowl; add the spices and mix well to coat the plantains.   If desired, place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to help develop the flavors.

Heat some of the remaining oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. (Note #3)  When hot, add plantains in a single layer.  Sauté until browned, turn over and brown other side.  Repeat until all the plantains are cooked.

Serve hot

Ghana: YAM FOOFOO

2 lb yams 1/4 tsp black pepper 1/4 tsp salt 1 tsp butter

1. Place the yams in cold, unsalted water, bring to a full boil, and cook 25 minutes, or until soft.

2. Remove the yams, cook, and peel. Mash with the other ingredients.

3. Place in a food processor, and run briefly to remove lumps. DO NOT PUREE! (If a processor is not available, go directly to step 4.)

4. Remove foofoo to a bowl, and beat with a wooden spoon or wire whisk until smooth. The foofoo should have a sticky, slightly resilient consistency.

5. Shape the foofoo into balls with your hands, and serve warm.

Ghana: SHOKO (BEEF AND SPINACH STEW)

6 small canned tomatoes, with juice 1 whole fresh hot chile 4 medium onions, whole 1/4 cup green bell pepper 6 tbsp vegetable oil 1 lb stewing beef, cut in cubes 1 cup water [or beef broth] 1/4 tsp sugar 1/4 tsp salt 2 tsp cayenne [more or less to taste] 1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger 3/4 to 1 lb fresh spinach

1. Reserve 1/2 cup of juice from the canned tomatoes, and discard the rest of the juice. Combine the chile, tomatoes, onions, and green bell pepper in a food processor, and process until the vegetables are minced but not pureed.

2. Heat the oil in a large, cast-iron pot, and saute the vegetables and beef for 5 minutes over high heat.

3. Add the reserved tomato juice, water sugar, salt, cayenne, and ginger. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 2 hours. Stir occasionally to keep from burning.

4. Meanwhile, soak the spinach in warm water for 15 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly, separate, rinse again (and even a third time if you want to be extra careful), shred coarsely, and set aside.

5. After 2 hours, add the spinach to the pot and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, until the water is gone and the spinach is cooked.

6. About half an hour before serving, prepare boiled rice. Serve Shoko with rice. [Also good served with Yam Foofoo.]

Ghana: BRAISED CHICKEN WITH CHILES

3-4 green chiles, skinned, seeds removed, chopped 1 3-lb chicken, cut into 8 to 10 pieces 2 tbsp butter 1 tbsp peanut oil 1 onion, sliced and separated into rings 1 cup chicken broth 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter and oil and brown the chicken, a few pieces at a time. As the chicken browns, remove and keep warm. Add the onion rings and saute until soft.

Add the broth, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and chile and bring to a boil. Put the chicken back in the pan, cover with the stock, reduce the heat, and simmer until the chicken is done — about 45 minutes.

Variation: Make a stew by adding coarsely chopped onions, tomatoes, and corn while the chicken is simmering.

Note: Fresh tropical fruits such as pineapple, papaya, or mango along with baked yams will complete this easily prepared chicken dish.

Ghana: JOLLOF RICE GHANA

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. Sttir 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.

Ghana: GARI FOTO

25 g (1 oz margarine or palm oil 1 medium sized onion, chopped 2 fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped 175 g (6 oz) carrots, chopped 175 g (6 oz) mushrooms, chopped 175 g (6 oz) green peppers, chopped 300 ml (1/2 pt) vegetable stock or water hot pepper, to taste 100 g (4 oz) gari (gari is a coarse-grained roasted, grated fermented flour, made from cassava and used as a staple food in a similar way to ground rice)

Cook the onion and tomatoes in the margarine or palm oil, stirring until pulpy, in a non-stick saucepan. Add carrots and fry for a few minutes. Stir in the palm oil, then add the mushrooms, green peppers, stock and hot pepper. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix the gari into the sauce in handfuls, stirring constantly until all the liquid is absorbed. Serve hot with a vegetable stew or fish stew.

Ghana: AVOCADO AND CRAB

15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice 1 clove of garlic, crushed pinch of sea salt freshly ground black pepper, to taste pinch of paprika 1 avocado 175 g (6 oz) white crab meat spring onions to garnish

Mix together the lemon juice, garlic and seasonings. Peel and remove the stone from the avocado and mash the flesh with the lemon mixture. Mix in the flaked crab meat, with a fork. Garnish with chopped spring onions. Serve on fingers of toast.

Ghana: TATALE (GHANAIAN PLANTAIN CAKES)

2 over-ripe medium plantains (black and soft) 1 small onion, finely chopped or grated 25 to 50 g (1 to 2 oz) self-raising flour 5 ml (1 tsp) palm oil (optional) salt and hop pepper, to taste oil, for frying

Peel and mash the plantains well. Put into a bowl and add enough of the flour to bind. Add the onion, palm oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and leave to stand for 20 minutes. Fry in spoonfuls in a little hot oil until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.

Ghana: AVOCADO WITH GROUNDNUT DRESSING

2 avocados ripe but firm 15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice 30 ml (2 tbsp) shelled groundnuts or peanuts 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) paprika 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) cinnamon chile powder [cayenne], to taste salt, to taste fresh chives, to garnish

Peel the avocados; cut out the stone and cut into cubes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and set aside. Grind the peanuts roughly with a rolling pin or in a grinder for a few seconds. Mix the peanuts and spices well. Sprinkle over the avocados with finely chopped chives. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ghana: AKOTONSHI (STUFFED CRABS)

2 lbs crab meat [I think this recipe assumes raw crabmeat to start; refer to instructions below about boiling crab meat and alter technique if using pre-cooked crab meat, perhaps by just boiling some ginger and cloves in small amount of water and adding a bit to flavor crab. — cmt]

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 [available in Oriental food shops] 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 (small individual baking dishes).

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.

Makes 16, to serve 6-8