There’s something beautiful and delicious about learning about another culture through the food they grow and eat. It’s why I was drawn to Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen. It was a chance to explore West African cuisine, a cuisine I know little about.
Zoe Adjonyoh was born to a Ghanaian father and Irish mother. She spent her early years in Accra before moving to East London where her father had a tendency to bring home weird and exotic ingredients with which he used to whip up dishes from his native country, while she watched on. Food was how Zoe connected to her Ghanaian heritage and it’s that food she celebrates in Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen.
The cookbook begins with notes on ingredients specific to Ghanaian food, like; Red Palm Oil, certain produce, grains and spices typically found in Ghanaian kitchens, loads of chillies, a favorite – plantains, and cocoyam, a relative of the yam family that I stumbled upon after seeing them in this cookbook and had to buy so I could try out her cocoyam chips.
It’s a cookbook that’s an ode to Ghanaian culture, packed with stories, personal pictures and even a soundtrack to cook to. The recipes are unique – plantain salad, Okra soup, Fufu, Bese and more uniquely West African dishes.
The recipe I’m sharing is my favorite one in the book – it’s her recipe for Nkrakra, which is a light Ghanaian soup with chicken. The base is a chale sauce which is a spicy tomato pepper sauce she uses throughout the cookbook. It’s packed with flavour and the slow cook yields melt-off-the-bone chicken. It’s the only place I’ve enjoyed cooked cabbage. It’s wholesome, warming and will become your go to winter dinner.
Nkrakra, a light Ghanaian Soup with Chicken from Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen
- 4 bone in skinless chicken thighs
- 1 onion finely diced
- handful thyme sprigs
- 4-5 guinea peppers cracked open
- 1 teaspoon extra-hot chili powder
- 3 garlic cloves finely diced
- 500 ml uncooked Chalé sauce recipe below
- 1 litre chicken stock
- freshly ground black pepper
- 400 grams mixed and peeled (where appropriate) vegetables I used sweet potato, carrots and white cabbage
- 400 grams canned tomatoes
- 2 red bell peppers roasted and skin peeled off
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 small onion diced
- 5 cm piece fresh ginger grated
- 1 small red Scotch Bonnet chili use half and remove the seeds for a less spicy sauce.
- ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 3 garlic cloves
- salt to taste
- Place the chicken in a large heavy-based saucepan or flameproof casserole dish with the onions, thyme, guinea peppers, chili powder, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook together over a low heat, partially covered, until the juices start to run from the chicken.
- Pour the Chalé sauce over the chicken mixture, then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the chicken juices run clear.
- Stir in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add your choice of vegetables and simmer for one hour until the chicken is tender. Season to taste with black pepper.
- Serve alone or with crusty sourdough bread.
- Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until you have a fairly smooth paste.
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is published by Octopus Books and is distributed in South Africa by Jonathan Ball Publishers. It is available here.
Recipe is reprinted with permission from the publisher. Images are by Nutreats Food Photography Studio.
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.