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.


Nina said...

I guess it is a taste that has to be acquired early on in life? Not for me though, despite my many years here.

The pale observer said...

Great blog Fran!! Happy to have it brought to my attention by my fellow Ghana blogger Kajsa (Rain in Africa).

As a Canadian living in Ghana for 13 years, I've definitely tried everything, but many dishes are an acquired taste that I haven't acquired!

I do love hot kenkey with pepper and fish, but not as a sweet dish.

There is another food though, that my kids love, which is prepared almost the same way but 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 falvour to breakfast cereal!

Well keep up the great blog - will keep reading...

Holli in Ghana

Fran said...

Holli, thank you for the posting. Actually, today (Thurs., Sept. 10) I plan to write about the snack you're describing. Check out the latest posting for my take on "gari soaking."

The pale observer said...

Hi Fran - small world! Will keep checkin in with you. I suppose you have put up the recipe for red red before? :) That's a big favourite of foreigners when they are getting used to Ghanaian quisine!

Sarah Noack Poetry said...

OMG this sounds DELICIOUS!!!! I LOVE KENKEY!!! I think it is one of my favorite foods ever, I am craving it now with some hot oil sauce! :) This is a whole new dimension of deliciousness... yum yum.

Sarah Noack Poetry said...

PS... LOL... red red is probably one of the few foods in the world, conversely, that I am so un-fond of that I would rather skip a meal than eat it! I don't know why I am so nauseated by it but it's one food I just never liked! I like beans, but black eyed peas... not so much. (I can tolerate them in sauce). Plantains... only green, I can handle..