Monday, September 09, 2013

Around the House, kpakpo shito and water leaf

Fall is now arriving in the US. Nights are getting colder, yet the warm memories of a month in Ghana during June and July are still strong.

Here are a few photos from my time there. On the right and below are photos of the kpakpo shito bushes planted in our yard in Baatsona (near Tema). Kpakpo shito (shito means "pepper" in Ga) is my favorite pepper from Ghana. I've tried unsuccessfully to locate seeds in the U.S., with several local organic farmers willing to grow them for me.

If anyone knows how to legally import them from Ghana, please let me know. Kpakpo shito has a wonderful, almost sweet fragrance, along with a spicy heat. I didn't have to buy peppers at all the 4 weeks I was in Ghana! I wait for them to turn red before cooking with them, either whole and "popped" between my fingers, or seeded and sliced.

My son Yaw Dankwa also planted some greens he brought from Nigeria, called "water leaf" or what sounded like "boca-boca" in Ghana. They have small purple flowers. He mentioned that they can be cooked like cocoyam leaves (nkontomire), and that in Nigeria people sometimes also just cut the leaves up and add them to food. I never had a chance to cook some this trip, but did check in with the knowledgeable Ozoz Sokoh, of Kitchen Butterfly fame, who confirmed that water leaf  is ". . . an aggressive plant and I'm less than happy with it at the moment as it overtakes every thing with its self propagation. Worse than mint! . . . But we use it in soups, with other greens (pumpkin leaves and another veggie we call 'green'), with ground melon, stirred into tomato sauces aka stew." She also provided a link for more information, including its history and scientific family and name, Portulacaceae, Talinum fruticosum (T. triangulare).  Apparently the leaves are  loaded with vitamins A and C, calcium and iron, and are grown in many tropical areas of the world besides West Africa.
Thank you again, Ozoz.