Flair: Weeks 4 & 5

While in previous weeks I might take the back seat in cooking classes to Ghanaian helpers, my ability to multitask has noticeably improved. Lately I have been able to take on more meal components and complete them with greater efficiency. I also broke down [half] of a chicken for the first time this week.

Practicals Day 7:

Baked Pollo

I first tasted pollo in November, and it has since become one of my favorite street foods. My only problem was it being difficult to find – but that’s solved now that I can make it for myself!

I bought the coconuts whole,  forgetting to ask the seller to crack them and remove the outer skin.  The result was half an hour of work hitting them against the wall and flaking away the meat with a knife the next day. Afterwards, we grated the meat to mix with the pollo dough.

Pollo is thick and dense, but a winner thanks to the heavenly taste of the coconut and vanilla extract. This is one biscuit I’ll absolutely be making in the States.

Red Red (Bean Stew with Fried Plantain)

Despite its deliciousness, bean stew does not photograph well. The flavors that shine are the earthiness of the local black-eyed peas and the smokey flavor of the tuna.

The trick to frying plantains is starting with the oil not being excessively hot. As the plantain cooks, one should gradually raise the heat so that the oil will cook itself out of the plantain. A properly fried plantain is not greasy.

Practicals Day 8:

Fried Pollo

The fried pollo was lighter and fluffier than the baked version, but far inferior in the taste department. The recipe in my cookbook was not written correctly; the mixture ended up being too wet. This issue was solved by adding more flour, but then the quantities of the other ingredients were screwy.

Groundnut Soup with Omo Tuo

I’m not even going to bother attaching my photos; my groundnut soup and omo tuo (rice balls) were not pleasant on the eyes .

Groundnuts are peanuts; groundnut soup is actually peanut butter soup. While I enjoy the flavor of this soup, I find it to be too heavy for my tastes. I prefer the sauces in Thai curries, where the peanut butter is diluted with coconut milk. Groundnut soup  feels thick and dense in my stomach. The soup is flavored with salt, cayenne, stock, and shrimp/herring powder. I personally think that a spoonful of brown sugar would have worked wonders in the soup, but I didn’t have any at the time.

Omo tuo is rice cooked until soft, pounded, and shaped into balls. Unlike last week’s banku, I was able to shape the omo tuo by myself.  Obrunis tend to love omo tuo since it is one of the few non-fermented starches around.

Practicals Day 9:

Egg and Koobi Stew

The difference between this stew versus an ‘ordinary’ Ghanaian stew is the added ‘Oomph’ from using extra curry powder. My only complaint was that I didn’t wash the koobi enough. Koobi is tilapia packed with salt and dried in the sun for days; washing it three times wasn’t nearly enough. The high salt levels made the fish nearly inedible. The stew was great though.

 Coconut Shortbread Cookies

Excess grated coconut from the pollo was  lightly browned in the oven, and the cookies were rolled in it before baking.

These cookies were extremely rich, crumbly, and delicious from the toasted coconut. I ate roughly 1/3 of them, and brought the rest home to my new host family. They were gone by the following morning.