Friday, May 04, 2007

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.

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At 6:09 PM, Blogger Kat said...

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At 6:11 PM, Blogger Kat said...

Kelewele was my favorite Ghanaian snack as well. I found your site when I googled kelewele + peanuts as that's how I've always had it. I'm still on the hunt for a recipe.

I spent two years in Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer and loved every day of my stay.

At 6:43 PM, Blogger Fran said...

It's always great to meet a kindred spirit. I leave for a week in Ghana tomorrow!

At 2:59 AM, Blogger Emmanuel Norman Nakhokho said...

So wonderful to have such agood environment of learning and you need to publish the manuals for people to learn from those good ldeas
May God be with you

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Mjaybee said...

Hwentia is probably a specie of Xylopia, most likely Xylopia aethiopica, also known as "Negro pepper".

At 12:05 AM, Blogger Fran said...

Thank you, Mjaybee. You're right, hwentia IS Xylopia aethiopica. Prof. Kofi Sefa-Dedeh, a food scientist at the University of Ghana, shared that information with me in June, but I hadn't gotten around to posting it yet. Incidentally, there's a nice article about hwentia (also known locally as hwenteaa, soo, ezinli, tsuo, or kimba) at

At 12:05 AM, Blogger Fran said...

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At 8:58 AM, Blogger Anwuli said...

My name is Anwuli Ojogwu. I work with Farafina Magazine as an editor.
Please we would like to publish an excerpt culled from your blog on Kelewele in our magazine, Farafina and we are asking your permission to use it. It is a general interest magazine that features writers from different parts of Africa. You can learn more about us on I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you.

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Fran said...

Hello Mr. Ojogwu:
I welcome your interest in using an excerpt from BetumiBlog in your online magazine. If you e-mail me directly with your e-mail address so that I can contact you, I'd be happy to discuss this further. I like to be able to talk directly to the people I'm collaborating with. Thank you.



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