Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recipe #66: Tuo Zaafe ("TZ")

Today I'd like to talk about a couple of  dishes from Northern Ghana.

The first one is "tuo zaafe," commonly called "TZ" ("tee zed," literally "very hot"). Along with omo tuo (rice balls, generally served with groundnut soup), it is a preferred standard carbohydrate-based accompaniment that "goes with" many of the soups and sauces of Northern Ghana (Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions). TZ is a thick porridge with many variations: it can be made from millet, "guinea corn" (sorghum), corn, and/or cassava mixtures. The grain can be fermented or not. It tends to be less elastic than fufu, and ranges from soft like banku to loaf-like that can be cut with a knife.

When I was last in Tamale, Mrs. Comfort Awu Akor and her daughter Amadu George Shetu showed me how to make both this dish and a sesame soup to accompany it. We made our TZ from fonio, but I'll give an adapted recipe from also-gluten-free millet flour. While in Ghana they've developed an ingenious way to hold the cooking pot steady over the fire using iron rods held in place by feet, those of us outside of Ghana (and some of us inside), will have to rely on a sturdy saucepan with a handle. The TZ is in the pot on the right-hand side of the photo below.

Note: it helps if you have a really strong wooden spoon or stirring stick like those from Ghana (another worthwhile purchase if you intend to do much Ghanaian/West African cooking).

Recipe #66: Tuo Zaffe (TZ) from millet flour 
3 cups of boiling water
3-4 cups of cold water
3 cups of millet flour
  1. Heat 3 cups of water to a boil in a heavy saucepan with a handle.
  2. While the water is heating, mix 2 cups of cold water with 2 cups of millet flour.
  3. When the water boils, turn the heat to medium, or medium high, and quickly mix in the millet-water mixture, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in another cup or two of cold water.
  5. I admit I cheated here: I was afraid my TZ would go lumpy on me, so I used a wire whisk before  the mixture thickened, to make sure I had all the lumps out ;-). Let it cook for about 10 minutes over medium to medium high heat. I stirred it constantly.
  6. Remove half of the porridge mixture and put it in another bowl.
  7. Add the additional cup of millet flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring vigourously after each addition.
  8. Add in the porridge mixture that you separated out, and continue to cook and stir for about 10 more minutes.
  9. Wet a large bowl, and put the mixture into it, press it down slightly and mold it into a large multi-portion size, or shape it into individual servings if desired. The TZ hardens as it cools. Alternatively, in Ghana they often shape the TZ into individual balls that they wrap in plastic bags. Or, the TZ can be ladled individually into serving bowls along with soup.

We ate our TZ in Tamale with a wonderful soup made with pounded sesame seeds and Guinea fowl.

First we went to the market and picked out our guinea fowl, and all the other ingredients, including the available sesame seeds. There were 2 types of sesame seeds Comfort wanted, but we had to settle for what was there. My Muslim driver, Abdul, did the honors of slaughtering the guinea fowl by cutting its head off, after first saying a prayer. Then we boiled some water and cleaned the fowl, removed its feathers, and cut it into serving pieces. (While Ghanaians enjoy almost all parts of the guinea fowl, or game hens, or chickens, for Westerners they can be cut into about 8 or 10 pieces at the joints.) Since I have no guinea fowl available, I'll be substituting Cornish game hens for this recipe today and tomorrow. Incidentally, my next-door-neighbor is a hunter, and he once brought me a wild pheasant when I was testing this recipe, which made a wonderful substitute for the guinea fowl.

I'm afraid I've run out of time today, so come back tomorrow for the first recipe I've ever seen posted for this delicious Northern soup: Benne (Sesame) Soup with Guinea Fowl (or game hens)

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