What’s for supper in Kpandai?

2 Nov

FUFU is the clear favorite in Northern Ghana. It is a thick paste made by boiling yams (the king of crops in Kpandai) in water and then pounding them in a big wooden mortar with a pestle until the desired consistency is reached.

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Above on the left are a group of women in pounding Fufu and on the right I am enjoying the final product a couple of hours later (these pictures are from Nchanchina last weekend the evening before I raised yam mounds).

Note that Fufu is popular throughout West and Central Africa, but in many areas they use other starch sources instead of yams. For example, in Southern Ghana Fufu is instead made from pounded cassava and plantains.

The runners up to Fufu in Northern Ghana are T-Zed, Banku, Kenkey and Rice dishes, roughly in that order. All of them with the exception of rice dishes come in the form of big dough-like balls that you pull chunks off with your fingers and use to soak up some accompanying soup before eating. The soups are often tomato based with some form of protein cooked in, like fish, beef, guinea fowl, etc… The most popular soups are groundnut soup, light soup, and palmnut soup. Okra soup and stew are also popular.

T-Zed (tuo zaafi = ‘very hot’ in Hausa language) – a thick porridge of corn or millet flour that is eaten like Fufu or Kenkey (it is more like Kenkey than Fufu because both are fermented).

Banku & Kenkey – both are made from corn, sometime mixed with grated cassava. Both are ferment before cooking. The difference is that Banku is cooked in a pot, while Kenkey is partially cooked, then wrapped in banana leaves, maize or corn husks and steamed.

Plain, Fried or Jollof Rice – both plain and fried rice are much like at home. Jollof means ‘one pot’ and is basically rice mixed with a variety of miscellaneous ingredients – typically tomatoes, onions, salt, and peppers, but nearly any kind of meat, other vegetable, or spice may also be added.

Apart from these main dishes, other common foods are:

Fried, Boiler or Roasted Yams – fried yam is my favorite. They are basically like large yams fry/wedges that road-side vendors boil in oil and then serve with a bit of tomato and hot pepper sauce or a dusting of peanut powder.

Garricassava tubers are peeled, washed and grated or crushed to produce a mash. The mash is placed in a porous bag and allowed to ferment for one or two days, while weights are placed on the bag to press the water out. It is then sieved (or sifted) and roasted by heating in a bowl. The resulting dry granular garri can be stored for long periods. It may be pounded or ground to make a fine flour, or many people just add water along with sugar and/or powdered milk for a quick, easy and cheap meal.

Egg & Bread – just like it sounds (see my recent post)

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So what have I been eating? Well I’ve tried it all, but I normally only have Fufu, T-Zed, Banku, or Kenkey when I’ve been invited out to someone’s house or I’m travelling. On a typical day I eat:

Breakfast – bread with some chocolate-hazelnut spread that I bought in Tamale or some rice water from the women who comes by our office every day selling it (kind of like cold porridge).

Lunch – a combination of fried yams, beans, and fried plantains from my favorite lunch spot just down from my office.  I eat there a lot!  (see the above left picture)

Snack – fresh bananas or oranges from one of the many vendors on the street. On market days I sometimes pick up a coconut. Unfortunately I will miss mango season entirely…

Dinner – some rice based dish, often with an egg or a bit of fish sauce for protein, purchased from one of the street vendors.  (see the above right picture)

Although the food is generally good, I get pretty tired of the limited selection in Kpandai, so I’m pretty excited about getting Obruni (foreigner) food on my visits to Tamale. During the mid placement retreat I had pizza, spaghetti, cheese burgers, and a chocolate brownie with ice cream.  Yum!  As for what I’m missing from home, sushi or a big colorful salad spring to mind… 

One Response to “What’s for supper in Kpandai?”

  1. Marnie Larson November 2, 2010 at 8:41 pm #

    Already got a regular eating spot, just like your mexican restaurant here in Vancouver 🙂

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