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.


John Ndege said...

Interesting - that looks like quite oily though. Is that healthy? A family member of mine is from Ghana and introduced me to West African dishes that included quite a lot of oil. I guess best not to eat too much!

Fran said...

It is oil, but you just drizzle a little over your beans or rice or stew. Think of how you add olive or another oil to a salad with a light hand. The ginger, onion, pepper, etc. has permeated these oils to give them a wonderful flavor.

Also, North Americans regularly use butter or margarine on bread, rools, vegetables, potatoes and pancakes. Is that any less "unhealthy"?

Fran said...

P.S. The question of oil in the diet is too big to remark on here. I'll blog about it one of these days.

Ginger said...

I cannot tell you how excited I am to have found your blog. I got married about four months ago and my husband is from Ghana. He has been in the states for 5 years and sometimes has cravings for his native foods. Being a Texan, I know nothing about preparing Ghanaian food. I look forward to learning about the cuisine from you blog so that maybe I can relieve some of his cravings! I have already told him I am going to attempt, with his help, to make kenkey. Thank you!

Fran said...

Ginger: I'm glad you discovered BetumiBlog. Let me know how your experiments work! This is the resource I always wanted after I married. Have you visited Ghana? I highly recommend it. BTW, my first book A New Land to Live In, was based on a year I spent living in Ghana before I married. Let me know if you'd like a copy.

Ginger said...

Fran, I haven't been to Ghana yet, but we are planning on going as soon as we can. I made the sardine stew for lunch the other day and Wisdom was impressed. I am now going to have to add sardines to our kitchen staples list! The kenkey is fermenting as I type so I will let you know how it turns out. I would be interested in reading your book. It is a fascinating read I'm sure.