Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tom Brown, Yam Balls (Yele Kakro), and Tiger Nuts

Breakfast was a porridge made from what's called
tom brown. It's a toasted corn or sesame flour
that is admittedly bland when eaten straight (mix
with one cup water to incorporate, one cup boiling
water to heat), and has a texture like a smooth
paste. Adding raw sugar, those brown crystals that
are becoming popular in coffee shops, improve the
flavor and the texture considerably. Brown sugar
or granulated sugar would do similar things to the
flavor, but the raw sugar has an excellent grit to it.
On top of that, we added some peanuts and milk.
More often, it's eaten with evaporated milk, that
stuff that comes in cans and reminds me of old people
and the Royal Empire, but it wasn't worth it to open
a can just for that little bit, so we stuck to milk. I like
it just with the sugar and a few peanuts, personally.

After breakfast and a bit of work setting up the rest of
the week, we turned out attention to the stack of yams
that were acquired yesterday. African yams are not at
all like the orange tubers in grocery stores back in the
states, these things are more like overgrown potatoes,
both in texture and in taste, but they've got a bit of a
lingering aftertaste. Anything I do over here with yams
can be done back home with potatoes, no problem. One
thing I'd like to actually experiment with is using half
idaho or red potato, half sweet potato, and seeing if they
remain solid enough to fry at the end.

Fran decided we would make these yam balls, which
mayor may not be called yele kakro in one of the many
Ghanaian languages. I'm no expert, unfortunately, so if
I'm wrong, feel free to point me in the right direction.
We started by washing and peeling the yams, chopping
them up, and boiling them much like one would when
making mashed potatoes. Simultaneously, tomatoes
were blanched and peeled and chopped up with some
onions. Half of the mixtures went onthe stove to cook
and caramelize, the other half stayed raw.

Once the yams were finished cooking, they were mashed and
combined with both the cooked and raw tomato and onion
mixture and two eggs. Tossed in were thyme and red pepper
and some salt, and then we set to work rolling them into
little flour-coated balls. The balls were fried in a pot of
saffloweroil and strained. They're fantastic hot because the
outside stays crispy for only so long, but when I make them
at home,I'll be packing some away in the refrigerator to pull
out at lunchtime.

(The recipe is so easy and a lot of fun, I'm thinking of
teaching it to the girls that I'll be tutoring in July and August.)

I know, how good do they look? Although, to be honest, it's
a given that you fry something starchy with spices, it's going
to be delicious. You can add whatever spices you really
want to add to these things, I'd go for garlic in future batches,
maybe try a little bit of dill for more of a wintertime treat.

The last picture I have here is a bowl of what Fran calls
tiger nuts. They're pretty common down here, we bought
them off of a street vender (don't worry, they were washed
under hot water before anyone ate them). They're also pretty
common in Spain. They're chewed but not eaten entirely, the
hard outer husk is spit out at the end. They can be crushed up
and the milk can be drained, sort of like coconut milk, and the
taste is sweet and nutty, like a sweet almond.

Tomorrow, we head out to the University of Ghana at Legon to talk to a
few people in the food science and nutrition departments. I'm
excited and a little bit nervous, to be honest.

1 comment:

  1. Katie:
    I love following this each day. Seems so hard to believe you are so far away. Seems like you are just down the street. You pictures are great, you comments are really fun and informative. Can't wait to taste some of these things. Will be checking in daily. By the way, I have got to try some of those pancakes!