Lora’s Pollo Recipe

 In Ghana, Recipes

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:

"Coconut."

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

Materials:

Dry Coconut
Sugar
Little Water
Salt
Nut Milk
Flour
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

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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?).

"Lora."

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:

"Obruni!"

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Showing 3 comments
  • Debbie Doyle
    Reply

    Avery, I’m enjoying reading your postings from Ghana. Please let us know how your pollo turns out. Debbie Coyle NCWA

  • Dana Kalombo
    Reply

    That was very kind of you to give her the extra money. I guess for whatever cultural reason she felt insulted. Ah, the joys of crossing cultures. Have you asked other Ganeans their perspective on why she threw the money back at you? I’d be curious to hear their responses.

  • Avery
    Reply

    Debbie – thank you!

    Dana – I’ve asked 3 or 4 Ghanaians, and most were surprised that she did so. It’s customary for Ghanaians to give a small amount of money in exchange for kind services. For instance, when someone walked me a block to a foreign exchange, the AFS Ghanaian gave 2 cedis and there was no issue.

    I think part of it was feigned, and she was trying to make the trotro laugh. Part of it could also be that I am white. Maybe she was trying to make a statement that she ‘could not be bought’. Regardless, I’m not 100% sure about her reasoning…

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