Kélé Wélé Recipe


Today my host mom prepared kélé wélé for the first time. While I've enjoyed fried plantains many times in Ghana, kélé wélé's aromatic seasoning blend of cloves, ginger, and pepper puts it in an entirely different league of its own.

Kélé Wélé Recipe

Serves 6 people with normal appetites or 3 Ghanaians.


  • 6 extremely ripe, yellow or black plantains
  • One piece of ginger, roughly 1 square inch
  • One clove of garlic
  • One small handful of cloves
  • One small handful of black peppercorns
  • Salt
  • Coconut or vegetable oil for frying


1. Peel the ripe plantains and cut them into small strips.

2. Place  garlic, ginger, cloves, salt, and pepper in a mortar and pestle or a mini food-processor with a small amount of water. Grind until it reaches a paste-like consistency.

Paste before grinding

Paste after grinding


3. Marinate the plantains in the paste for 30 minutes.

4. Heat coconut or vegetable oil. Once hot, add the marinated plantains and fry until golden brown.


5. Serve with roasted groundnuts (peanuts) and/or plain rice with stew. Enjoy!

Lora’s Pollo Recipe

On the trotro home from school today, a woman in front of me had a large wooden box on her lap full of pastries for sale. I asked her what they were, and got a one word response:


Upon hearing the "C-word", my hands immediately grabbed a 20 pesewa (12 cent) coin from my pocket. I ordered one piece of it.

It was still hot from the fryer and had a slightly dense, yet slightly flaky texture. The primary flavor was of toasted coconut taste, with a certain creaminess.

I finished it in a matter of seconds. "What is this?" I found myself asking her.

"Pollo," she replied.

I knew that I needed to learn how to make pollo, and asked her if she would teach me how. Alas – English was futile. She responded by opening the container, staring at me, and holding up fingers to ask how many more I would like.

The man two seats away from us overheard the conversation, and asked me for a pen and paper. I complied, and he soon began talking to her in Twi and writing down notes.

About 15 minutes later, he handed me back the following recipe:

How to Prepare Pollo


Dry Coconut
Little Water
Nut Milk
Cooking Oil

Step 1:
1. With the help of a grater, grate your dry coconut.
2. Make a sugar solution.
3. Mix the sugar solution with the ground coconut.
4. Add salt per taste.

Step 2:
1. Mix your flour with a ground nut milk (depending on your preference/quantity).
2. Mix your nut milk and flour with the mixture from step 1

Step 3:
1. Roll your mixture on a flat surface.
2. Cut or divide to your proportions
3. In the cooking oil, fry until a light golden brown


Despite there being no indication of quantities on the recipe, my eyes glowed with excitement. I thanked the pollo seller and the translator repeatedly in Twi (meda wo ase).

As my stop was soon approaching, I quickly asked her for her name (Wo din de sen?).


As I exited the trotro, I gave her a 5 cedi ($3) bill to thank her for her troubles and recipe. I stepped off of the trotro- only to have the crinkled-up bill thrown at me in disgust, and hear her yelling at me in Twi. The only word I could understand:



Vegetarian Tom Kha Gai Recipe

Tom kha gai (translated literally to mean chicken galangal soup), incorporates so many contrasting flavors that it can be intimidating for a new chef. When I first tasted tom kha gai at a Thai restaurant, I was so inspired that i wrote the following passage about its flavors:

Immediately the creamy milk hits your palate; transporting you to an exotic Thai beach. You’re lying down on a chase lounge; soup bowl in hand. As you slurp the broth, a hint of kaffir lime adds the perfect amount of tartness- enough so it plays off of the coconut milk, while not so much so that the tartness is overwhelming. Shreds of galangal root float about the bowl, each one permeating the broth with an earthy, citrusy flavor. Normally, the rice noodles would seem slightly overcooked and gloppy, but because they are coated in the broth, the flavors meld together to become one. With the last spoonful of broth, the elusive flavor of lemongrass- impalpable yet distinctly aromatic- lingers on.

This past week I attempted my own version of this Thai classic based upon a recipe found online. My variation follows:

Vegetarian Tom Kah Gai


The broth was perfectly seasoned by the combination of bullion, lime, lemongrass, and galangal. Every ingredient added to the flavor and texture of the soup.

Ease of Execution

About 20 minutes from start to finish, including prep time. While lemongrass and galangal root may seem intimidating to prepare, it’s simple once you get started.”


Moderately attractive in the bowl, particularly when sprinkled with chiffonades of basil.


Tom kah gai is an easy to make delicious soup definitely a try.


4-5 stalks lemongrass
2 cans (14 ounces each) unsweetened coconut milk
2 bouillon cubes (or 1.5 cups of vegetable stock)
1 galangal root (cut into 20 quarter-sized slices)
10 peppercorns (or ground pepper
Zest of 1/2 lime
1.5 pounds of sweet potatoes or butternut squash
1 can garbanzo beans
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 scallions sliced
Basil (to taste)

1. Peel away the outer dry layers of the lemongrass. Trim the tops. You will use roughly 6 inches above the base. Using a blade/knife, bruise each stalk at 2 inch intervals at all sides.

2. Peel the galangal root and cut into 20 quarter-sized pieces.

2. Heat the coconut milk and water with bouillon over medium heat. Stir in the galangal root, lemongrass, peppercorns, and lime zest.

3. Cut the sweet potato/squash into large bite-sized pieces. Add to the broth, and bring soup to a gentle boil for 10 minutes.

4. Remove soup from heat and add the garbanzo beans, soy sauce, lime juice, and green onions. Serve warm with whole basil leaves or chiffinades of basil (see notes).


  • To chiffonade basil, simply stack the leaves on top of each other and roll them intro a tight bundle. Cut diagonally.
  • In Thailand this soup is served with the lemongrass and galangal root still in the soup. If you would rather not  eat around them at the table,  remove them from the soup before Step 4.
  • Basil can be replaced with cilantro.
  • Mung bean noodles can also be added.