“I always see the women doing the pounding.” -Jamie Lloyd
“Not me. I always see the men doing the pounding. Say! Have you eaten Anteater?” – Tom Neuhaus
Ghanaian cuisine has diverse traditional dishes from each ethnic group, tribe and clan from the north to the south and from the east to west. Generally, most Ghanaian foods are made up of a starch (rice, fufu, banku, tuozafi, gigi, akplidzii, yekeyeke, etew or ato) and a sauce or soup.
An alternative to the starch and stew combination is “Red Red”, a very popular and easy to find dish. It is made up of a mashed bean stew served with fried plantain. It earns its name from the red spices that tint both the stew and plantain.
Ghanaian food is quite sophisticated with liberal and adventurous use of exotic ingredients and a wide variety of tastes, spices and textures. Herbs such as thyme, bay leaf, vegetables such as wild mushrooms, garden eggs (similar to egg plant) various types of pulses, ginger, garlic, smoked meat and fish, crab, trotters, shrimps octopus and duck all feature in Ghanaian cuisine.
Dr. Tom Neuhaus of California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo launched the first cocoa program for undergraduate students to physically produce chocolate. He sources his cocoa from Ghana and several other West African nations.
California is to Wine as West Africa is to Cocoa.
In a lecture at the University of Connecticut, Robin Romano, a photographer who extensively investigated slavery and child labor in Côte d’Ivoire, quotes an enslaved worker as saying, “Tell them when they are eating chocolate, they are eating my flesh.”
Indeed, over 40 percent of the entire world’s conventional chocolate is harvested from Côte d’Ivoire, and according to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, one million West African children drudge in the cocoa fields, only so we can appease our chocolate cravings.
Fair Trade certified chocolate is the way certify that you are not in fact eating a child’s flesh in addition to delicious tannic sweetness, known as chocolate. Order sweets from Sweet Earth Chocolates, Dr. Neuhaus’ Fair Trade Certified label.
Our very own Sip Snap Savor photographer also runs a photography program for kids in West Africa. You can check it out here.
Red Red is a popular stew throughout Accra (capitol city of Ghana) and into the countrysides and jungles. Following is Cordon Bleu trained Chef Neuhaus’ recipe.
“Use plantains. They are the kind of starch that holds things together better than bananas” – Tom Neuhaus
1 onion, chopped
1 c palm oil
3 cans cow peas or black eyed peas, drained (use left over bean juice to make vegetable stock)
4 plantains, peeled and diced
1 medim sized whole chicken, de-boned and chopped with skin intact
“Chicken isn’t normally in Red Red. I’m just doing it as a service for you.” – Tom
“No Vegetables? Oh yes. This IS food from Ghana, after all.” – Eve
Slowly heat several tablespoons of red palm oil in a skillet. Add chopped onions. As they cook and soften, add in chopped chicken. Saute until nearly cooked completely.
Meanwhile heat additional red palm oil in another skillet. Add chopped plantains. Saute and flip around the pan until cooked.
Drain contents of both saucepans, by flipping contents of skillets onto plate or tray lined with paper towels.
“Palm Oil is high in Vitamin A. So don’t be bashful using it.” -Tom
Turn the fire or heat to low. In a large pot add beans and remaining Red Palm Oil. Simmer slowly for an hour. Just before serving add onions, chickens, plantains and salt & pepper. Serve with rice or on it’s own.
Tom would like you to check out The Global Giving Circle while you simmer the beans for the Red Red.