Tag Archives: ghanaian food

Hearty Chickpea Stew

Hearty Chickpea Stew

I was chatting with my friend K’s daughter the other day about what we’re most looking forward to this Christmas. She of course is excited for presents; last year she got a little sister, I don’t know how her parents are going to top that one. Another thing she was exciting about is making snowman pancakes with her granddad when he comes home for the holidays.

This made me think about the holidays and how integral food is to the holidays.
Food at this time of the year is almost as important as the family we break bread with; it provides us a reason to gather and to celebrate.

I love that I come from a family of food lovers and ‘food sharers’ Christmas celebrations at my grandmother’s included the task of delivering cakes to friends and neighbours.

On Christmas morning, she’d cook a giant pot of jollof over an open wood fire to share with friends and family, it was always vibrantly orange and fragrant with subtle hints of smoke.

Hearty Chickpea Stew

Hearty Chickpea Stew

This hearty chickpea stew is the type of food that comes to mind when I think of sharing meals over the holidays. It’s hearty like its name suggests, plentiful, filling and vibrant like my grandmother’s jollof.

My sister, @pearlsa makes this stew. She’s taken over the helm as the family cook and inherited my grandmother’s spirit of generosity, she always makes enough to share with family, friends and neighbours.

It’s a simple but rich and flavourful dish; chickpeas are stewed in a warm and tangy spiced broth of tomatoes and finished off with a splash of lemon juice.

It’s an adaptation of channa masala with discreet elements of a traditional Ghanaian stew.

It’ intensely satisfying served over warm rice, we love a sprinkle of crushed toasted nuts and some fresh lemon juice over it.

Left overs are even better because the sauce thickens and time allows the flavours to deepen some more.

It’s also wonderful on those super dark wintery days when you crave meals that are especially comforting, filling and nutritious.

Hearty Chickpea Stew

Hearty Chickpea Stew Hearty Chickpea Stew

Hearty Chickpea Stew
Excellent, spicy, fragrant and warming stew, serve over a bed of warm rice for a deliciously tempting and filling meal
  1. 1/8 - 1/4 cup coconut oil (about 2 – 4 tablespoons)
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  3. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  4. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  5. 1 large onion, diced
  6. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  8. 3 cups crushed tomatoes (or 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes)
  9. 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  10. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  11. 3 1/2 - 4 cups cooked chickpeas (about 2 15-oz canned beans)
  12. 1/2 teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more or less to taste
  13. Juice of 1/2 a lemon, plus more for serving
  14. Freshly ground black pepper and chopped fresh cilantro for serving
  1. Heat coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat
  2. When oil is hot, add mustard seeds, ground cumin and coriander
  3. Stir and cook for about a minute or so until spices are fragrant and mustard seeds start popping
  4. Add onions and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until onions start to soften
  5. Add turmeric powder, tomatoes, chili powder and ground ginger, let it cook for 3 – 5 minutes
  6. Add chickpeas, let the stew cook for a few minutes, stir occasionally and let it come to a gentle boil
  7. Add salt, lower heat and let stew simmer for another 5 - 10 minutes or so to let the flavours meld and the oil rise to the top
  8. Check seasoning, stir in lemon juice and remove from heat
  9. Serve over a bed of cooked basmati rice with freshly ground black pepper, and garnished with cilantro and lemon juice
  10. Enjoy!
  1. For a thicker stew, blend or process tomatoes, chilli powder and ginger until smooth and add to stew
  2. If you find that your stew is too thick, add 1/4 cup or more water or vegetable stock
  3. This stew makes for great leftovers!
the Whinery by Elsa Brobbey http://elsbro.com/blog/
Hearty Chickpea Stew

Plantain and Beans

Plantain and Beans

Plantain and beans; it sounds so exotic now, almost foreign, yet it used to be my favourite food not too long ago.

This beloved Ghanaian food of fried plantains and stewed beans holds a special place in my heart – sold by street vendors and a staple in homes, it’s one of the few meals I actually looked forward to eating when I was a child.

A dish so good it’s named twice – we call it ‘red red’, for the red palm oil and tomatoes that turns the bean stew red, and the golden red hue of the plantains when fried, or in this case, baked.

There are countless similar versions of this plantain and beans cooking in West African kitchens and all over the world.
Over here in our part of the globe, we typically wait for warmer weather when the plantains ripen better and sweeter just like back home.

Plantain and Beans Plantain and Beans
Plantain and Beans

I should mention that this is really my sister’s dish, she diligently chooses the finest looking plantains, let it ripen further and spend days planning this meal – I’m always super nice to her in the days leading up to ‘plantain and beans’

I should also mention that this recipe isn’t wholly plant based; apologies to my vegan buddies – although it can be easily be made vegan by swapping out the anchovies for mustard seeds, cumin and harissa to give the palm oil a flavour boost, and you probably won’t miss the smoked salmon if you omit it.

We’re planning on a solely plant-based version this summer, so stay tuned.

Plantain and Beans
Plantain and Beans Plantain and Beans

Like most Ghanaian dishes, there’s versatility to this plantain and beans, it can be tweaked and adapted to suit countless tastes and preferences.

My aunt S. cooks her beans very soft till they’re almost falling apart, then she sautés onions in palm oil and adds the beans to the oil with a little salt and let it simmer while she fries her plantains – simple, hearty and delicious.

We’ve been frying our plantains in the oven for a few years now, and it works superbly, yielding deliciously sweet plantains to go with the stewed beans.

I love this dish, it’s comforting and tastes like home, a meal for sharing with loved ones.
It’s the type of meal that is so much better with good company and good wine, perhaps an Argentinian Malbec.

Plantain and Beans Plantain and Beans

Plantain and Beans

Plantain and Beans

Stewed Black Beans with Red Palm Oil

Stewed Black Beans with Red Palm Oil Stewed Black Beans with Red Palm Oil

A pot of beans simmering away on the stove almost always takes me back to years past when we’d spend our Sundays in the kitchen making soups and stews to last us the week, and although the memories aren’t pleasant, I can’t make beans with red palm oil without thinking back on those uncertain teen years.

It’s true, you know… time softens bad memories and sometimes even lends you a different perspective.

So this stewed black beans is done a little differently now; it’s simpler, easier and unburdened by meat, kind of like my life now.

The original recipe is from the August 2012 issue of Bon Apetit, with borlotti beans, sage and olive oil, which I tried a couple of months ago.

IMG_6662 IMG_6646

I used black beans this time; it’s rich in protein, dietary fibre and antioxidants, but I love it for its hearty, rich, almost creamy texture.
Red palm oil is earthy, with flavours that remind me of traditional West African cooking.

I won’t get into the politics of red palm oil except to say that for centuries several cultures have been using it for culinary, medicinal and religious purposes.

And then there are the spices in this stew… mustard seeds, cumin, harissa, ginger and thyme – piquant and fragrant, that helps meld the black beans and red palm oil together in a delightful way that absolutely works.

IMG_6649 IMG_6635

IMG_6736 IMG_6758

Sunday Breakfast: Finger Millet Porridge


I grew up with Rwanda in the news when it was synonymous with genocide; but I always suspected that this beautiful Eastern African country ‘adorned with hills, lakes and volcanoes’ was so much more than its horrid and unimaginably painful past.

These days Rwanda is becoming known for premium coffee grown on small hilly farms many metres above sea level.

The coffee I brew at home is from Rwanda and I get it from a lovely coffee shop, and it’s really, really good coffee.

Then there’s the millet flour I get from the little African store on Kingsway, it too is from Rwanda – it’s ground from unhulled African finger millet they call uburo.

This flour is a little grittier and the flavour is nuttier than the much popular pearl millet.

When I use this flour to make the traditional Ghanaian spiced porridge (Hausa koko), it’s darker and bolder – a little full-bodied, if you may.

IMG_7045 IMG_7083
IMG_7075 IMG_7048

I make this porridge quite often on weekends, alternating between this flour and the pearl millet variety, which is lighter with a smoother taste.

I prefer this finger millet porridge; it’s a little more complex and the spices give it a luxurious depth, I make it with lots of coconut milk and nuts and a warm bowl of this porridge on Sunday mornings is deliciously heartwarming.

The recipe for this porridge can be found here; finger millet flour is in Indian grocery stores too as Ragi flour, and there’s a similar porridge from India called Ragi Malt.

Finger Millet Flour Porridge IMG_7065

Rice and Black Beans

Black Beans & Rice

This is what I come home to on some Fridays, rice and black beans – It’s @adjoa’s specialty.

My mom usually announces as soon as I come through the door, “your sister made waakye, if you’re nice to her maybe she’ll give you some,” When ever am I not?

This rice and black beans is of course a riff on the popular Ghanaian street/fast food, waakye.

Traditionally, it’s rice and black eyed-peas cooked with millet stalks, which gives it it’s distinctive reddish to purplish hue.

One day @adjoa discovered that black beans and rice yields the same colour as the traditional waakye, and practically tastes the same, and our version of waakye was born – as close to authentic as we can get from oceans away.

IMG_3880 IMG_3872

She had to convince my mom though; she starts with, “Our kind adapts…” I don’t exactly know what that means, but it’s the same convincing tone she uses to get us to try Burmese food and capoeira.

So on some Fridays, she goes by the African Market on Kingsway and buys shitto, the hot dried-fish and pepper sauce that usually accompanies waakye.

At home, she cooks the black beans first, then adds the rice when the beans is half done, and then let the rice and beans simmer and cook slowly until it’s tender and fluffy and the liquid is absorbed.

I love coming home to this on Fridays…


Black Beans & Rice with Hot Pepper Sauce