Sunday, November 2, 2014

GHANA: THE FOOD


I have been waiting for this day for a while.  But with birthday celebrations (yes, I’m halfway to 70 now), and anniversary stuff (we made it through our first decade together), and Halloween (even though it snowed, and they didn’t get that much candy this year because it was simply too cold — the sad part is that it was 81 degrees five days earlier, but that’s Indiana for you), I’m finally able to cook food from Ghana. 

Tasty bread comes in all shapes and sizes. 
Today, I started out making Ghanaian Sugar Bread. I think the title is somewhat misleading to American standards since there really isn’t that much sugar in it. For most Americans, if you put the word “sugar” in the title, by law it must give you a diabetic shock. It can be a small shock, but it has to be part of the experience. Anyway, I mixed my flour, yeast, sugar (which is only 2 “dessert spoonfuls”), and ground nutmeg in a bowl, and then I made a well. I put in a teaspoon of margarine and rubbed it into the dry ingredients. I added just enough warm water to mix it into a dough. I kneaded the dough for several minutes, working it all out. After forming it into a loaf shape, I took a knife and made a cut lengthwise down the loaf before setting it in the loaf pan to rest for about 45 minutes, covering it with a damp towel while it proofed. When it was ready, I put it in the oven for about 25 minutes until it turned golden on top. I think the recipe forgot to add that I was supposed to grease my pan first because it was super hard to get the bread out when it was done. I was told on Instagram that it didn’t really look like it was supposed to, but even at that, it still tasted good. I’m always at the mercy of whoever wrote and posted the recipes when I do these things. I accidentally put in a lot more nutmeg than I should have, and that’s all I could taste. But I happen to like nutmeg and think it tastes like fall. Its hard, crusty outside was a nice match to the soft, spicy inside. It’ll be wonderful with my coffee in the morning.

My quasi-crab-guacamole.
The next thing I made was solely because I wanted to try it: avocado and crab. I mixed together lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika in a small bowl.  Then I cut two avocados and removed the meat from it, mashing it in the lemon-spice mixture, kind of like guacamole.  With a fork, I mixed in the flaked crabmeat into the avocado mixture, garnishing it with some chopped green onions. I served it on toast that I cut in half. I think because I was using two avocados instead of one, I added a little too much lemon juice to compensate, so it was a little on the citrusy side. But I think I’ll go back and add a little chili powder or garlic powder or something to cut the lemon juice back a bit. Otherwise, because the crabmeat was flaked and blended well with the avocado, it wasn’t an overpowering taste; I liked it like that.

You can never go wrong with this. 
Next comes the main dish: Stewed Fried Chicken Mushroom.  The chicken I’m using came from a whole chicken we baked last night, so I skipped the part where I brown it.  However, I did cut off what I thought was enough chicken and seasoned it with some lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and a little water. Then I put it in a large saucepan with a little added rosemary (don’t tell my husband — he hates rosemary). I cooked the chicken and seasonings with a bit of oil in the skillet for about 10 minutes before transferring it to a larger pot. Then I added in some more oil, some flour, and some chopped onions in order to make a “gravy,” cooking it for about five minutes. After this, I added a can of tomatoes, some chopped green pepper, and a small can of mushrooms. I let it cook until everything seemed to warm up, then I poured it over the chicken that has been patiently waiting for me in the other pot.  I added a little chicken broth and water, covered it, and let it simmer for about a half hour. I occasionally checked on it and stirred it to make sure it wasn’t reducing too fast. I served this on some steamed rice, and it was really good. I liked the flavor, even though I probably could’ve put a little more salt, pepper, and maybe some more garlic in it. But it was a good comfort food, and the consensus was that it was a winner (except my 5-year-old son, who abhors the idea of eating mushrooms, and let me know his stance on that several times).

What did you have for dinner tonight? I had this. 
I know these probably weren’t the most “national” dishes from Ghana. I’m sure there are probably more famous or well-known dishes out there.  The problem that I’m getting to now is that because certain types of dishes are common in many countries that are near each other, I don’t want to only stick with the same kinds of recipes. Peanut-chicken stew recipes abound in West African cookbooks, as well as some kind of rice with meat and vegetables dishes. And while I absolutely love these dishes, I sometimes try to look for other tasty meals that come from these areas. Surely, this isn’t all they eat.  And because of this, sometimes the main dish and side dish may or may not complement each other. Like today: I’ll admit these two dishes were kind of a strange combination together. But I liked both of these dishes regardless.  But you know, sometimes that’s how dinner goes at my house: I just make what I have on hand, and sometimes it’s just a collection of all of my favorite foods.

Up next: Greece

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