Kelewele: My favorite Ghanaian Snack
I'm in the midst of packing to spend a year in Brazil and Ghana but just caught sight of a bag of Nina International's "All Natural UDA Hwentia," sitting on my desk. It made me wish for some fresh kelewele, one of my all-time favorite snack foods from Ghana. Western cookbooks generally describe kelewele as something like "spicy fried plantain cubes," but that is like calling a sunset "beautiful." All the recipes I've seen in Western cookbooks are anemic versions of the best kelewele as it's prepared in Ghana. First of all, Western versions only call for salt, ginger, and dried red pepper, but in Ghana in addition to grinding fresh ginger and onion, they also commonly pound and add sekoni (aniseed), hwentia (a kind of long black stick I've yet to name botanically. Can anyone help me out?), and cloves. The plantain should be very ripe and sweet, and nicely coated with the mixture before it is deep-fried. The plantain is generally cut on a diagonal rather than into a straight cube. Kelewele tastes superb accompanied with dry roasted peanuts. The sweet, spicy, and chewy plantain is a perfect counter to the mild crunchy/creamy flavor and texture of the peanuts. Both go well with an ice cold beer or drink like ginger beer or bissap. Nina International distributes many West African foods through its office in Maryland (PO Box 6566, Hyatsville, MD 20789). More information on suppliers is available at African Food Stores
Rest assured, Barbara Baeta and I will include an authentic recipe for gourmet kelewele in our upcoming book.