Citizens, apologies for being negligent in posting these last few days – it’s been hectic indeed here at TFD Central Command! Let’s get back on track with a recipe from the continent of Africa you’ve probably never seen before!
The country of Ghana, officially called the Republic of Ghana, is located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the subregion of West Africa. Ghana is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south. The word Ghana actually means “Warrior King” in the Mande language.
The territory of present-day Ghana has been inhabited for millennia, as long ago as 6000 B.C. with the first permanent state dating back to the 11th century. Numerous kingdoms and empires emerged over the centuries, of which the most powerful was the Kingdom of Ashanti.
The Portuguese arrived in modern-day Ghana in 1471, the first Europeans to explore the land. Though they were searching for a sea route to the Far East, the explorers began building forts along the coast and trading with inland tribes for their gold. By 1600, the Dutch and English began exploring Ghana. One hundred years later, the Germans and Danes also built forts — all hoping for ivory and gold. In return, explorers brought rum, cotton, cloth, beads, and weapons to the tribesmen.
Eventually the Europeans forcefully captured Ghanaians as slaves, with the British ultimately establishing control of the coast by the late 19th century.
In addition to ivory and gold, Ghana was exporting palm oil, pepper, and corn by the mid-1800s.
To continue the economic development of Ghana, the government distributed cocoa beans to local farmers to encourage the growth of a cocoa industry.
Following over a century of native resistance, Ghana’s current borders were established by the 1900s as the British Gold Coast. In 1957, it became the first sub-saharan African nation to declare independence from European colonization and was re-named Ghana.
Ghanaians enjoy a rather simple, but flavorful cuisine. Many spices are used to prepare stews and other popular dishes. Cayenne, allspice, curry, ginger, garlic, onions, and chili peppers are the most widely used seasonings. Onions and chili peppers (along with tomatoes, palm nuts, and broth) help to make up the basis for most stews.
Stews come in a variety of flavors, the most popular being okra, fish, bean leaf (or other greens), forowe (a fishy tomato stew), plava sauce (spinach stew with either fish or chicken), and groundnut (peanut), one of the country’s national dishes.
Many spices and different ingredients are used to prepare stews and other popular dishes: thyme, garlic, ginger and bay leaf; vegetables such as wild mushroom, garden eggs (eggplant), tomatoes and various types of pulses; beef, pork, goat, sheep, chicken, smoked meat and fish; crab, shrimp, periwinkles, octopus; bushmeat, snails, and duck; offal, trotters and cow skin. These are all featured in Ghanaian cuisine.
Palm oil, coconut oil, shea butter, palm kernel oil and peanut oil are important local oils used for cooking and frying. In certain stews, palm oil is the preferred oil for preparing it.
Akotonshi or stuffed crab is a dish that is associated with feasting in Ghana and is truly delicious – I’ve tweaked the recipe to my seasoning preferences, but it is still the recipe someone from Ghana would recognize and enjoy.
Battle on – The Generalissimo
2 lbs cooked crab meat
1 tsp salt
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
4 – 6 cloves
4 tbsp cooking oil
1 small onion, minced
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
pinch of paprika
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
¾ tsp. grains of paradise, ground to a powder
1 tsp minced African bird peppers (use hot Thai peppers if unavailable), mashed to a paste
1 tbsp dried shrimp
½ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1 egg, hard-boiled and finely chopped
1 sprig parsley
Mix crab meat with ¼ cup water that has been boiled with the ginger piece and cloves for 15 minutes.
Drain water, flake the meat 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, cumin, nutmeg, thyme, grains of paradise, paprika, mashed peppers, 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.