Egusi for Ghana

Obeng

Happy Ghanaian independence day! I don’t think I’ll ever forget the excited declarations of “It’s 6th March!” or the sense of celebration that day during my time in Ghana.

Just in time for the 52nd anniversaryof the country’s independence from Britain and the eighth anniversary of my being there, I discovered Obeng. Yesterday, I was only three cat calls into my travels along Morse Street NE, headed toward the Asian grocery supplier that’s my favorite source of inexpensive coconut milk and dried shiitake mushrooms, when I spotted it. Or rather, I spotted the part of its sign that said “retail.”  (I’d been aware of an African food warehouse there, but always assumed I’d need a wholesaler license to get in). 

(Recipe after the jump)

This store close to 4th and Morse NE is actually set up more for its retail customers, it appears, with managably-sized packages of  kenkey, banku mix, Milo, egusi (both whole and ground), and even a canned version of the mini eggplants known as “garden eggs.” I’m actually not the first to find it–the Post was there years ago, In Shaw did a little write-up, and there were plenty of in-the-know customers milling around–but I still felt like I’d stumbled upon something special. I may have to update my previous entry about the warehouses!*

To get in the Ghanaian food spirit, check out a couple more pictures here and try the recipe below.

Egusi Greens

 

Adapted from a recipe on cdkitchen.com

 

Serves 4ish

 

2 pounds spinach, kale, collard, or other green, chopped fine
6 tablespoons coconut or peanut oil
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or about 1 ½ cups canned diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, minced
¾ c. egusi, ground (found in African grocery stores, or you can make your own by grinding pumpkin seeds)
2/3 cup water or liquid from the canned tomatoes
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt to taste 

Steam the green until not quite tender and set aside. Mix the egusi or ground pumpkin seeds in a bowl with enough warm water to form a paste, and also set that aside.

 

In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes, or until beginning to brown. Add the tomato (if using fresh), and cook another few minutes. Add the garlic and ginger. Continue to stir until you smell the ginger strongly. If you’re using canned tomatoes, this is when you can add them.

 

Add the egusi paste, water, cayenne pepper (try just a pinch to start), and salt. Simmer 5-10 minutes. Add the greens and let simmer again, uncovered, for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Stir well and serve hot!

 

To eat this Ghanaian style, serve with slices of boiled white yam. I plan to eat it with fufu and Fanti-style kenkey.

*If you read this one, apologies for the weird formatting. It popped up after an upgrade to the blog.

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