Complete with a detailed ingredients guide, a Ghanaian soundtrack and the story of her food journey through her home country, Zoe's book makes what at first could be overwhelming easy to recreate at home with suggested substitutions and useful tips.
Spinach agushi curry
*Here’s my twist on traditional Kontomire or nkontomire stew – a delicious vegan spinach curry, to which you can add extra steamed veg of your choice to make it into a more substantial meal.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder
350ml uncooked Chalé sauce * (see below)
100g or about 2 heaped tablespoons agushi (dried ground melon seeds)
8 guinea peppers, crushed (optional)
juice of 1 lime
150–300ml water or good-quality vegetable stock, if required
200g baby leaf spinach
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground
Grilled plantain (optional)
4–6 ripe plantains
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ tablespoon dried chilli flakes
coconut oil (melted) and olive oil, for drizzling
Heat a large, heavy-based saucepan and add the coconut oil. When it has melted, add the onion and sauté over a medium heat for a few minutes until softened, then add the curry and chilli powders and stir well. Stir in the chalé sauce and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes.
Gently stir in the agushi, using the back of a wooden spoon to break down any lumps that may form – the sauce should start to turn creamy and resemble scrambled eggs. Add the guinea peppers, if using, and the lime juice. Leave to simmer over a medium heat for a further 10 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick, add the water or vegetable stock a little at a time to loosen it. The colour of the stew will have changed from pink to a mustard colour.
Stir in the spinach and sea salt and black pepper, then simmer gently until the spinach has wilted. Meanwhile, prepare the grilled plantain, if making. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Using a sharp knife, peel the plantains by cutting the tips off each end and slicing through the skin lengthways (avoid cutting into the flesh), then use your hands to remove the skin.
Cut the plantains in half lengthways. Rub with the ground ginger, chilli flakes and sea salt, and drizzle with coconut or olive oil. Grill for 12–15 minutes, turning over halfway through. Serve alongside the spinach curry.
Chalé Sauce *
Makes 500 ml
This basic recipe is based on my dad’s everyday cooking sauce. He would whip this up and then literally throw in any type of meat, fish or protein, but it was always tasty.
You can just blend the ingredients and store the uncooked sauce for later use, or cook it and then leave to cool – either way it saves time when making many of the recipes in this book. I make a big batch of this at least once a week – you can easily double the quantity if you want to make a bigger batch, although it’s not necessary to increase the Scotch Bonnet unless you like it extra-extra-hot!
400g can tomatoes or 250g fresh tomatoes
30g or 2 tablespoons tomato purée
1 onion, roughly chopped
5cm piece fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)
1 red Scotch Bonnet chilli, deseeded
1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 garlic cloves (optional)
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon extra-hot chilli powder
Place all the ingredients except the ‘to cook’ ones in a blender and blend together until you have a fairly smooth paste. This is your uncooked chalé sauce. For cooked chalé sauce, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and sauté over a medium heat for a few minutes until softened. Then add the curry powder and chilli powder and stir thoroughly to coat the onion evenly. Add the blended tomato mixture and simmer gently for 35–40 minutes.
Use straight away, or leave to cool then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days, or freeze for future use.
Jollof fried chicken
By far the most popular dish on both our street-food and restaurant menus is this super-crispy and succulent fried chicken recipe – I really shouldn’t be giving away the secret!
2 tablespoons Jollof dry spice mix **
½ teaspoon crushed sea salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
500ml–1 litre vegetable oil, for deep-frying
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed sea salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Mix the jollof dry spice mix, sea salt and black pepper with the rapeseed oil in a large bowl. Add the chicken strips and buttermilk and turn to coat them all over. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1–2 hours, preferably overnight.
Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer (the safest option) or heavy-based, deep saucepan filled to just under half the depth of the pan to 180–190°C (350–375°F) or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Meanwhile, put the cornflour in a separate bowl with the seasoning and nutmeg and mix well. Dip each chicken strip into the seasoned cornflour to coat evenly – try to do 4 or 5 pieces in quick succession, as you need to drop them into the hot oil straight away.
Fry the chicken, in batches, for no more than 3–4 minutes to keep them succulent and juicy yet cooked through, and golden and crispy but not burnt. Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper, keeping the cooked chicken hot while you fry the rest. It’s that easy – the best fried chicken you’re ever going to eat!
Jollof dry spice mix**
Makes about 190g
25g ground ginger
25g garlic powder
20g dried chilli flakes
35g dried thyme
25g ground cinnamon
15g ground nutmeg
15g ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cooking salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper scant
1 teaspoon dried ground prawn/shrimp or crayfish powder (optional)
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place and use within a few months.
Whole grilled tilapia
Tilapia is the most common freshwater fish in Ghana, its meaty flesh providing a substantial meal. This recipe is based on a very traditional style of cooking tilapia that can be found all across Ghana. But if the idea of looking your dinner in the eye is intimidating, you can use tilapia fillets instead.
2 fresh tilapia, scaled, gutted and washed
1 white onion, grated
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
5cm piece fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
2 green kpakpo shito (cherry) chillies, deseeded and finely diced, or substitute green habanero chillies
juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons ground grains of paradise, or substitute
½ teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
½ teaspoon ground hot pepper, or substitute cayenne pepper
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Using a sharp cook’s knife, remove the gill coverings and hard fins from the tilapia – this is a messy job, so it’s worth asking your fishmonger to do it for you. Carefully cut three evenly spaced diagonal slashes into either side of the fish – tilapia skin is very thick, so you’ll need a firm, steady hand. Place the prepared fish in a dish. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together in a bowl or place in a blender or food processor and blend to a smooth paste.
Pour the marinade over the fish, reserving a small amount for basting, and rub into the slashes and inside the cavity of each fish. Cover the dish with clingfilm and leave the fish to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
Food and drink news
Food and drink news
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Wine lovers across the UK might soon have to shell out close to a quarter more for their favourite tipple after Brexit, as a weaker pound and sluggish economy takes its toll, a new study shows
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A new study, published in the British Medical Journal: Heart, found that moderate chocolate intake can be positively associated with lessening the risk of the heart arrhythmia condition Atrial Fibrillation
3/31 Brits throw away 1.4 million bananas each year
British families are throwing away 1.4 million bananas that are perfectly good to eat every day at cost of £80m a year, new figures have shown
4/31 Rosemary sales spike over exam time
There has been a surge a surge in sales of the herb rosemary after a recent study found it helps improve memory. According to high street health food chain Holland & Barrett, sales of the herb have increased by 187 per cent compared to the same time last year
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Avoiding wheat, barley and rye in the belief that a gluten-free diet brings health benefits may do more harm than good, according to a team of US nutrition and medicine experts
6/31 Starbucks launches two new coffee-based drinks
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The Cadbury Dairy Milk Tiffin, first produced in 1937, is making a permanent comeback to the UK. The raisin and biscuit-filled chocolate bar is being launched after a successful trial last summer saw 3 million chocolate treats – at the cost of £1.49 for each 95g bar- purchased by nostalgic customers
8/31 Pizza restaurant makes ‘world’s cheesiest’
'Scottie's Pizza Parlor' in Portland Oregon has created the world’s cheesiest pizza using a total of 101 different cheese varieties.
Facebook/Scottie's Pizza Parlor
9/31 A pizza joint in Portland Oregon has created the world’s cheesiest pizza using a total of 101 different cheese varieties. Why not eating before a workout could be better for your health
A study published in the American Journal of Physiology by researchers at the University of Bath found you might be likely to burn more fat if you have not eaten first
10/31 New York restaurant named best in the world
A New York restaurant where an average meal for two will cost $700 has been named the best in the world. Eleven Madison Park won the accolade for the first time after debuting on the list at number 50 in 2010. The restaurant was praised for a fun sense of fine-dining, “blurring the line between the kitchen and the dining room”
11/31 Why you crave bad food when you’re tired
Researchers at Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University in Chicago recently presented their results of a study looking into the effects of sleep deprivation upon high-calorific food consumption. Researchers found that those who were sleep-deprived had “specifically enhanced” brain activity to the food smells compared to when they had a good night’s sleep
12/31 Drinking wine engages more of your brain than solving maths problems
Drinking wine is the ideal workout for your brain, engaging more parts of our grey matter than any other human behaviour, according to a leading neuroscientist. Dr Gordon Shepherd, from the Yale School of Medicine, said sniffing and analysing a wine before drinking it requires “exquisite control of one of the biggest muscles in the body”
13/31 British dessert eating surges after people ditch healthy eating in February
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14/31 US congress debates definition of milk alternatives
A new bill has been created that seeks to ban dairy alternatives from using the term ‘milk’. Titled the DAIRY PRIDE Act, the name is a tenuous acronym for ‘defending against imitations and replacements of yogurt, milk, and cheese to promote regular intake of dairy every day’. It argues that the dairy industry is struggling as a result of all the dairy-free alternatives on the market and the public are being duped too
15/31 Cadbury’s launches two new chocolate bars
UK confectionary giant Cadbury has launched two new chocolate bars, hoping to lure those with a sweet tooth and perhaps help combat some of the challenges it faces from rising commodity prices and a post-Brexit slump in the value of the pound.The company’s new products will be peanut butter and mint flavoured. They will be available in most major super markets as 120g bars, priced at £1.49, according to the company
16/31 You can now get a job as a professional chocolate eater
The company responsible for some of your favourite chocolate brands – think Cadbury, Milks, Prince and Oreo – have officially announced an opening to join their team as a professional chocolate taster. The successful candidate will help them to test, perfect and launch new products all over the world.
17/31 MSG additive used in Chinese food is actually good for you, scientist claims
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18/31 Lettuce prices are rising
Not only are lettuces becoming an increasingly rare commodity in supermarkets, but prices for the leafy vegetables seem to be rising too. According to the weekly report from the Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, a pair of Little Gem lettuces had an average market price of £0.86 in the week that ended on Friday, up from an average of £0.56 in the previous week – that’s an almost 54 per cent increase.
19/31 Food School
Kids celebrate Food School graduation with James Martin – a campaign launched by Asda to educate young people on where food comes from. New research has revealed that children across the UK just aren’t stepping up to the plate when it comes to simple facts about the food they eat – with almost half of children under eight not knowing that eggs come from chickens
20/31 ‘Do-It-Yourself’ restaurant
To encourage more people to cook and eat together, IKEA has launched The Dining Club in Shoreditch – a fully immersive ‘Do-It-Yourself’ restaurant . Members of the public can book to host a brunch, lunch or dinner party for up to 20 friends and family. Supported by their very own sous chef and maître de, the host and their guests will orchestrate an intimate dining experience where cooking together is celebrated and eating together is inspirational
Mikael Buck / IKEA
21/31 Ping Pong menu with a twist
Gatwick Airport has teamed up with London dim sum restaurant Ping Pong to create a limited edition menu with a distinctly British twist; including a Full English Bao and Beef Wellington Puff, to celebrate the launch of the airport’s new route to Hong Kong
22/31 Zizzi unveil the Ma’amgharita
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23/31 Blue potatoes make a comeback
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24/31 France plans to usurp Scotland as the home of the world's best whisky
France is planning to usurp Scotland’s reputation as the home of the world’s best whisky, fired by a growing national obsession with the drink. According to a study by retail consultants Bonial, the French drink more whisky than any other country – an average of 2.15 litres a year, compared to 1.8 litres in second-placed Uruguay and the US in third on 1.4 litres
Bloomberg via Getty Images
25/31 The price of an avocado is set to rise
Britain’s avocado lovers are facing a significant increase in the cost of their favourite salad food because the so-called superfood is becoming too popular. High demand from health-conscious consumers has led Peru to triple its avocado exports since 2010, with exports to the UK up 58% over the past year
26/31 Eating cereal may not be the healthiest way to start the day
The old saying goes that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so many of us do as we are told and grab a bowl of cereal before we head out the door. But an expert has warned that while many cereals boxes claim their contents are the perfect start to the day, many are packed full of sugar and carbohydrates with little nutritional value. Even some seemingly-health muesli cereals have a lot of added sugar in the form of honey, malt, molasses, dried fruit or “even fruit juice”
27/31 Crisps made with real ingredients
Michelin starred chef, Simon Rogan in action cooking a menu inspired by the provenance ingredients in the new Chef’s Signature range from Kettle Chips. Kettle Chips, the nation’s favourite premium crisp brand, has launched the new range of crisps with exciting new seasonings, made with the highest quality food ingredients rather than chemicals or artificial flavours
28/31 Japanese whisky crisis
Suntory’s chief blender Mr. Fukuyo San blends component whiskies to create Suntory Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve, a blend of young and old single malts. Japan’s warm climate and varied seasons makes it perfect environment to age and blend whiskies, creating subtle, refined and complex expressions.The recent trend for Japanese whisky has put the spirit on the verge of a global shortage
29/31 Non-alcoholic cocktails are seriously chic
We are living through a new era of creative, non-alcoholic drinks that go way beyond a coke or sweet mocktail. The world is becoming more health conscious. There's the war on sugar, and teetotalism is on the rise, with more than one in five not drinking at all (especially young adults), according to The National Statistics for Adult Drinking Habits. This abstinence is even more pronounced in London, with almost one in three turning away from alcohol. An increasing number of mixologists are applying their talents to the creation of non-alcoholic drinks that taste as good as their boozy alternatives
30/31 'Heat map' shows which areas of Britain enjoy the spiciest curries
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31/31 Guinness to become vegan-friendly
Guinness is set to become vegan friendly for the first time in its 256-year history, as the company announced its plan to stop using fish bladders in its filters
Remove from the fridge a few minutes before you’re ready to cook and preheat the grill to medium-high. Place the fish on a baking tray lined with foil and cook under the grill for 25 minutes (add an extra 3–5 minutes if the fish are particularly large or thick) until nicely browned and cooked through, turning and basting with the reserved marinade halfway through the cooking time.
Serve with Green Kpakpo Shito Salsa and Banku or plain boiled rice, along with lime wedges for squeezing over.
Lamb cutlets with peanut sauce
This is another simple way to re-spin my favourite basic peanut sauce, this time teaming it with some juicy lamb cutlets or chops. Simply reheat the sauce if you’ve pre-made it, or have some left over from another recipe, and spoon over the lamb when it’s cooked.
8 lamb cutlets or chops, about 2cm thick
1 quantity Peanut Sauce
3 tablespoons rapeseed oil or groundnut oil
2.5cm (1-inch) piece fresh root ginger, finely grated (unpeeled if organic)
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon crushed sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
a few roughly chopped roasted peanuts
sprinkle of finely sliced spring onion
Place the lamb cutlets or chops in a dish. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, pour over the lamb and rub the mixture thoroughly into the meat, coating it all over. If you have time, cover the dish with clingfilm and leave to marinate in the fridge for one hour. Meanwhile, prepare the peanut sauce, or reheat it if you have pre-made a batch.
Take the lamb out of the fridge and leave it to return to room temperature for a few minutes while you heat a griddle pan over a high heat until very hot. Add the lamb cutlets or chops – they should sizzle on contact – and then reduce the heat slightly. Cook the meat without disturbing it (see tip below), allowing it to sear evenly and obtain even griddle marks, then flip and repeat. (If you move the meat around during the cooking process, it will be likely to stick to the pan and won’t cook evenly.)
Remove the lamb from the pan and leave to rest for one minute before transferring to warmed serving plates. Pour 1–2 tablespoons of the peanut sauce over each of the cutlets or chops, then add a little garnish of chopped roasted peanuts and finely sliced spring onion. Serve with rice and Simple Fried Plantain, with a green salad on the side.
TIP: Cooking times for the lamb cutlets will vary depending on their thickness. As a guide, cook for 2–3 minutes if you want your meat pink or 4–5 minutes if you prefer it well-done.
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen by Zoe Adjonyoh. Published by Mitchell Beazley, £25 . Photography by Nassima Rothacker (octopusbooks.co.uk)Reuse content