Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Recipe #33 Aboboe and Recipe #34 Adayi (boiled and pureed cowpeas)

There is a VERY simple, everyday kind of dish that the Ewe (ey-vey) people and other Ghanaians enjoy. (The Ewe people are also found in parts of Togo and Benin.)This dish is called abobe or aboboe in Twi, abbi in Ga, azinogoe bb⊃  in Ewe. It is also known simply as stewed beans, boiled beans or bobo. 

The "beans" are humble cowpeas (vigna unguiculata), which likely originated in West Africa. They lend themselves easily to crockpot cooking, and that is how I prepared them recently, even though in Ghana we cooked them on a stovetop. 

Recipe #33: Aboboe (boiled cowpeas)
2 cups (a little less than 1 pound) of black-eyed peas
about 6 cups of water
gari for serving (if available)
ripe plantain (optional)

Rinse and pick over 2 cups of black-eyed peas (or use a whole pound bag)
Put them into a crockpot with 6 cups of water.
Cover and cook for several hours on high or overnight on low.
Before serving add a couple of teaspoons of salt, or to taste. I did not have to add any more water, but it's always a good idea to keep an eye on it if you're cooking on top of the stove or on the high setting in a crockpot.

Variations: add a large onion whole, and a little red pepper (fresh or dried) to the beans as they cook.

Serving suggestions:
The beans are good simply served with a couple of tablespoons of dry gari sprinkled over the top, and even better with a little flavored oil (or good quality dzomi palm oil, if you have access to that) poured over them before sprinkling the gari, and some shito served on the side, if you have any.

Alternatively, you can make a simple tomato gravy (that recipe is coming--it can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator) and add any leftover meat or fish or vegetable, and mix the beans with that before topping with gari.

Ripe plantain is traditionally fried and served alongside the beans, but Barbara (and I) grill or boil it and serve it that way. Totally delicious, and a nice change from chili.

Recipe #34: Adayi (Pureed Cowpeas)

In Ghana, Barbara and I didn't prepare adayi, but Barbara told me that you cook the cowpeas the same way, then when they are done and most of the water has boiled away, you simply blend the beans into a paste and eat them with gari

That's how I made it here, but later I was looking at the 1953 Gold Coast Nutrition and Cookery book, and saw that it has an Ewe recipe that is more complicated: first it says to soak the cowpeas ovenight (1 cigarette tin, which is 1/2 pound), dry them in the sun, grind the beans and remove the skins, cook them well in boiling water until they are soft, then add salt. The recipe then says to heat some coconut oil (1 1/2 U.K. gills, or about .9 U.S. cup), dampen some gari (2 cigarette tins, or a pound) with a little water and the heated oil, and serve it hot with the beans. I'm thinking that one could try subsituting the preskinned and/or preground beans, but the pureed, unskinned ones I made worked fine for this novice.
Have fun, and happy cooking.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Recipe #33: Flavored Oils AND a cooking teacher request

Flavored oils are used in Ghana as a condiment that can be drizzled over starches, stews or cooked cowpeas. It is similar to the way Fulbe cattle herders in Mauritania, Mali, and Northern Senegal use the oil butter nebam sirme

NOTE: Before posting today's recipe, I have had a request for information on anyone in the Philadelphia who teaches West African cooking, and in particular the cooking of Guinea-Bissau. Please share the information here or send it directly to me to forward to Joseph Dickerson.

 Recipe #33: Ghanaian Flavored Oil Sauces

This spicy condiment can be made with either a light-colored oil (like canola, safflower, or peanut), or the classic carotene-rich red palm (aka dendĂȘ) oil. It reminds me of Asian chili oil made with sesame oil (sesame is originally from Africa, by the way), but with an African touch. It is easy and quick to make, and might be just the thing for a holiday gift for that African gourmand on your list!


1/2 cup vegetable oil (I made 2 versions, one with palm oil    and  one with canola)
1/2 cup sliced or chopped onion
 several hot chili peppers of your choice (in Ghana we used my beloved much-missed kpakpo shito peppers)
1 teaspoon ground dried chili pepper (or to taste)
1 teaspoon freshly ground/grated peeler ginger

Gather and prepare the ingredients, washing the peppers, slicing off the stem end, then cutting them up or making slits in them. It is not necessary to remove the seeds.

Heat a small frying pan on the stove, add the oil, and a few slices of onion, shaking or stirring the pan for a few minutes. I'm not sure why they do this in Ghana, perhaps to freshen the oil. Remove the browned onion, then add the 1/2 cup sliced/coarsely chopped onion, the fresh chili peppers, ginger, and dried pepper. Simmer the mixture for about 15 minutes, pressing down on the peppers as they cook to help release their oils, and stirring occasionally.

Strain the mixture into a measuring cup or bowl. I strained it twice, once to remove the large pieces of oil, pepper, and ginger, and then a second time with a finer strainer to remove the dregs. Store in glass jars.

These oils are nice with cooked cowpeas (see my upcoming recipes for abobo and adayi), tomato gravy, shito, gari/or cooked ripe plantain slices.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Recipe #32: Papaya (pawpaw) Fool

Here's another fool (pudding) recipe from Ghana. This one uses fresh papaya rather than canned (or fresh) mango puree. I began by peeling and seeding a large ripe papaya (or, use a couple of small ones), then cut 2 cups of chunks, added them to a food processor attachment for my blender, and blended them briefly (about 30 seconds), so they were not completely pureed. Then I put them into a small saucepan with a Tablespoon of sugar and set it aside.

From that point I proceeded to prepare the custard and milk/water mix as with recipe #31, heating the papaya as I had the mango. I garnished them with what I had handy: fresh mango and papaya (pawpaw) slices. Voila! Dessert is ready in just a few minutes. Please note that this makes a fool that is much less sweet than the mango fool. If you want it sweeter, add more sugar. Conversely, if you find the mango fool (recipe #31) too sweet, use fresh mango and adjust the sugar to your taste.
This recipe makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

African Cooking Teachers in North America

The papaya on the counter is still hard and green, and the plantains for my holiday ofam turned woody but did not ripen, so today I'll wirte about a topic close to my heart:   

African cooking instructors

I've alluded before to some of the dvds or videos available online, such as those on Liberian cooking, or from Yeti Ezianii's Afrofood TV (see her YouTube videos). Of course, I teach African cooking classes, too (plus have a number of YouTube videos available, from making microwave fufu to moin moin, injera and doro wat, etc. These videos have multiple parts.) And there are  African cooking videos at   Kunmi of Sheba foods, has dvds available on Kenyan, Nigerian, and South African cooking. Many people have posted videos on YouTube covering all aspects of African cuisine.

However, there is no substitute for having an experienced and knowledgeable teacher guide one through the process of creating authentic regional African dishes, explaining cooking techniques, correcting problems, giving tips, and walking one through the process step-by-step. I've yet to discover any comprehensive and current listing of individuals outside of Africa who teach such classes on a regular basis. Such classes are also not yet incorporated into the culinary curriculum of  North American cooking schools (I'd love to be corrected here if you know of any schools with a specific emphasis on African cuisines, and not just a brief "world cuisines" unit.)

Let's begin a list today, at the end of 2009. Since I'm in the U.S., it will start with culinary professionals  in North America who are currently available to teach. I'll be happy to update it as people send me information and links. We can move beyond N. America if people send me information.

Off hand, apart from me
Fran Osseo-Asare (
State College, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

I recently received an email from
Nbret Aga (, telephone 206-218-2833)
Des Moines, Washington, U.S.A. who teaches (among other world cuisines) Ethiopian and Eritrean cooking classes.

Ghanaian caterer and consultant 
Eva Forson of African Palava
New York City, New York has taught African cooking classes.

If you would like to be listed, or can recommend someone, please contact me.