Thursday, September 10, 2009

Recipe #16: Gari potowye (soaking)

Gari-potowye (gari soaking)

I featured a recipe for iced kenkey. Today I'd like to share another snack/porridge- type food I learned to call "gari soak" or "gari soaking." My sister-in-law, Theodora, was unfamiliar with those terms, but knows it by its Fante name "gari-potowye."

It's also simple to make. Take a small amount of gari (I've only used the finely sifted Ghanaian version, not the coarser Nigerian one, but it would work, too). For Americans, I imagine 1/4 - 1/3 cup makes a serving, though for Ghanaians it might take twice that much. Remember that gari swells up to almost 3 times its size when liquid is added to it.

Traditionally people pour the gari into a bowl and fill the bowl with water a couple of times to clean the gari and allow them to pour off any impurities that float to the top.

Like iced kenkey, Theodora agrees gari-potowye "is cheap and easy to make. . . people eat (it) mainly to quench thirst/hunger until they can make or eat something more filling. . ."

To make
"gari- potowye," after rinsing the gari and pouring off any chaff/impurities and most of the extra water, one adds cold or iced water, remembering to add enough to keep it from becoming too thick. For 1/4 cup, after draining off most of the water used to rinse the gari, use 1/4-1/2 cup cold (ice) water. If you are adding milk, you may stay with the lower amount of water. You can always add more milk or water if after it sits for a few minutes you think the mixture is too thick. Conversely, if you add more liquid than you like, you can always sprinkle in a little more gari. As I've said before, Ghanaian cooking is very flexible and forgiving.

Theodora likes her gari potowye best after refrigerating it for about 30 minutes (i.e., it will be softer). As with the iced kenkey, one may add roasted peanuts (in Ghana these would likely be dry roasted and unsalted), milk (evaporated, powdered or fresh) and sugar to taste.

I found an online site in the U.K. that sells processed gari
"Kwik meal gari soaking" to make this dish. Their Kwik brand included cocoa in the mix, something I've never heard of before in Ghana (nor had Julia or Theodora).

Julia affirms, "Yes, it's (gari soaking) delicious with roasted nuts, usually not crushed. It is also not described (as) a drink, though some people may dunk it, but rather (is) watery and eaten with a spoon since the gari thickens if you don't have enough water. The milk tends to slow this down."

Gari soaking has a milder taste than iced kenkey. It can be prepared more or less thick, crisper or soggier, according to taste. As Holli, a Canadian living in Ghana for over a dozen years noted in a comment on yesterday's posting "There is. . . (a) food . . .that my kids love, . . . made with dried gari (cassava powder). Pour the dried gari into water, add evaporated milk (Ideal Brand here!), peanuts and sugar... it has a similar flavour to breakfast cereal!"

Gari prepared this way is another student and boarding school staple.
I think of this cassava meal as Ghana's favorite convenience food, and "gari soaking" is another example. In the coming months I'll feature gari regularly, in ways both savory and sweet.

By the way, the images I'm posting these days were generally meant to be functional, not carefully composed food photography. I leave my camera in the kitchen and take utilitarian photos so you can see what I'm describing. Our cookbook will be visually much more exciting! Also, today I was fresh out of peanuts, so they're missing from the picture, though the added crunch they give to gari soaking is wonderful. For those with allergies, try another type of nut.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Recipe #15: Iced Kenkey

I remember that when I was a child growing up in California my Tennessee-born mother sometimes snacked on graham crackers she crumbled into a bowl and covered with milk.

Iced kenkey: Similarly, my late sister-in-law Afua used to enjoy a Ghanaian snack in the early 1970s when she attended the boarding school where I taught in Nungua, Ghana. It was called "iced kenkey." She simply crumbled part of a ball of Ga kenkey with her fingers into a cup and added cold water and "plenty" of evaporated milk and sugar (it was sugar cubes in those days), stirred it well, and drank/ate it from a large mug. We had no refrigerator, but if we had I'm sure she would have used ice water to prepare it.

I never developed a taste for iced kenkey, so I checked in with a couple of Ghanaians--my sister-in-law Theodora, and my friend Julia--to make sure I had the recipe right.

My friend Julia Yeboah said that "iced kenkey" made from Fante kenkey is superior in taste to that made from other kenkeys. Fante kenkey is the one steamed in plantain or banana leaves, rather than corn husks, and is generally unsalted.

"Iced kenkey" is quick and easy to make. It is a popular inexpensive snack/street food sold throughout much of Ghana. It can tide people over until they can have a more filling meal. Iced kenkey is also used as a weaning food for children. "Iced kenkey" is never served hot (duh, right?)

To make enough for one-two people, take about a cup of kenkey (I used some leftover from the balls I blogged about on Aug. 26, recipe #12), and crumble it into pieces in a bowl with your fingers. I cheated and used a fork to help smash it up. Then add about a half cup of ice cold water and mix well. I used a wire whisk, but think this would work well if blended in a blender like a smoothie, even though that's not traditional and it would change the texture. Add milk and sugar to taste. It took me about a tablespoon of sugar to smooth out the sourness of the kenkey, and about 1/3 cup of evaporated milk (you can use other milk, but I wanted to recreate the taste I remember from Ghana).

It is about the consistency of rice water, and can be drunk or eaten with a spoon, or a combination. It is frequently eaten with unsalted roasted peanuts (but not crushed) sprinkled over it.

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