Thursday, 11 November 2010

Exploring Food (and Drink) III

26 October 2010
Tuo Zafi: In short called as TZ, is a ball of cooked millet flour. The millet can be Sorghum or Nara (similar to Pearl Millet). It is eaten with soups made from vegetables, meat or fish. It is the staple in the diet of northern Ghanaians.
Susubara: They call it as Tiga Nuts in Ghanaian English and Atchatwi in the southern part. These are small berry sized tubers having nutty taste similar to coconuts. These are said to be growing on some aquatic plant. I like them a lot and buy them frequently. Once some of the friends told me that I should not eat them much because I am living away from my wife (“my woman”, in the local language) and the nuts have aphrodisiac properties. I should say frankly that I have not experienced its said properties however.
Fruits: Bananas, oranges, pine apples, guavas and custard apple (latter two are rarely seen here but I once found them and bought them as well in Bongo) are also found in India but I have to mention specially here that the fruits found here in Ghana are more tasty. This is most probably due to less or no use of chemical fertilizers.
Smoked/ Roasted meat: It is commonly found all over Ghana on streets. There are street vendors selling pieces of meat which are roasted or smoked on the charcoal fire. The meat is generally of sheep, goat and pig. I have tasted sheep meat and it had good taste and smoky flavour. One needs to be careful and should only eat where they are roasting it properly. It is always better to consult some knowledgeable locals first before buying it.
Soya Kebab: Although named Kebabs, these are vegetarian. These consist of fried pieces of soybean curd and pieces of onion, both placed on a stick and then smeared with spicy Pepe sauce which consists of ground chillies, tomatoes and some other ingredients.
Boiled Sweet Potatoes: These are seasonal and sold by some vendors in Bongo and Bolgatanga. The sweet potatoes here have far better taste than the ones found in India. Some sweet potatoes have white skin and also have a white flesh. Some have brown skin and a very attractive golden coloured flesh.
Fried sweet potato chips: These have good taste but not commonly sold. It was sold by the eatery opposite to my office when it suddenly ran out of yams and everybody had started demanding for the yam chips. The taste was better than yam chips but might not be a common item liked by the locals after all.
Pito: It is a local brew made from millets mostly Sorghum. It is first sprouted and then boiled to prepare a mash which is known as malt. A liquid is extracted from the mash which is then fermented by adding yeast. Pito bars are almost everywhere and can be easily found around the corner. Every evening and also during the day on the market days, they get flooded with the people, men and women both. A small booze every evening is the norm here. Not different from the rest of the world. No, I have not tasted fermented drink yet. But on special demand unfermented Pito is also available and is really a very tasty and healthy drink, which I could taste once.
Palm Wine: It almost equals to toddy in India. Only difference is the palm from which it is extracted is a wild type. I found that the taste and smell to be both stronger than toddy found in India.
Chewing Sticks: These are sticks cut from branches of a tree. It is slightly bitter in taste. These are commonly chewed by the people everywhere.
Frafra Potatoes: These are commonly grown in the Upper East Region of Ghana. These are small black coloured tubers with yellowish flesh. A vendor in Bongo sales boiled Frafra potatoes seasoned with Yazi (groundnut powder, red chilli powder and salt mixture) and dressed in Shea oil. The taste is very similar to potatoes and commonly sold in the market raw or cooked. They are available in the market after their harvest in the month of October.
Bambara beans: These beans have a reddish colour when they are not mature and hard. There is only one big seed in a pod. They are boiled along with their pods and sold in the market. It looks like Ber from outside so I was mistaken by its appearance and ate the outer pod which was slightly sour and bitter in taste. Afterwards I came to know that it is the seed which needs to be eaten. The seed tastes like Peas.
Ground nuts: Ground nut is a major crop in the Upper East Region. The ground nut pods and de-husked ground nuts are sold commonly on the street. They are also available salted and dry roasted form on the streets and shops. There is another popular packaged snack with the brand name "snappy" available in the market. These are coated with some flour mixture and fried. The "snappy" is not very spicy but slightly sweet and salty in taste. It is not very oily either unlike its counterpart in India. One most commonly found processed product from Ground nut is Ground nut paste. Its process includes roasting the ground nuts, removing the skin, soaking the nuts and grinding them into a paste. This paste is used for making ground nut soup. It is also used for many other preparations in the Ghanaian cuisine. I use it however as a bread spread and sometimes add it to the vegetables. It is very healthy and tasty.