Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Guest Post: Ghanaian Red-Red and Kelewele

It is with great pleasure to introduce Tracey from Tasty Trix, she has an awesome blog, and can really cook in fact her recipes are often featured on food buzzes top 9, this dish looks fantastic one I will definitely try.

Its my mission to keep finding cool blogs and feature them on Chow and Chatter, so feel free to guest post anytime, its so much fun and such a delight to see recipes from around the world, to inspire us all to cook new foods!

Red-Red and Kelewele, a Traditional Ghanaian Beans and Starch Combo

When Rebecca asked me if I’d like to do a guest post for Chow and Chatter I was quite flattered, very excited – and, truth be told, a bit nervous. What would I write about? I didn’t want to let her down with a boring post! So I asked her if she had anything particular in mind, or if there was any specific sort of dish she’d like me to do, and she said: “Oh, anything.”

Anything! Well, that really got my mind racing. But after running through a zillion recipes and ideas – and rejecting each and every one! – I realized that all I really needed to do was present the kind of food I truly love. After all, one of the things that’s so great about Chow and Chatter is the obvious passion with which Rebecca approaches life, food, family, and friends. There’s also a wonderful diversity of cuisines and voices represented on her blog, and once I realized all this, my choice was easy: I’d write about red-red and kelewele, a traditional Ghanaian duo and one of my very favorite meals in the entire world.

Red-red is a spicy stew of black-eyed peas; kelewele is an even spicier dish of crispy fried sweet plantains. I am not West African, and I’ve never (yet) had the opportunity to visit Ghana, but for some reason, the food speaks to me. When I eat it, I feel nourished in my body and soul; the flavors take me to a euphoric place.

Beans with a starch is a staple of so many cultures, and there’s strong evidence to suggest that it all began in Africa. When you really start looking into it, in fact, the food of West Africa has had such a far-reaching influence on so many cuisines, that’s it’s a but surprising it isn’t more widely enjoyed in other parts of the world. I feel so lucky that I’ve had the chance to sample some authentic West African dishes at restaurants in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and at Benachin in New Orleans!

But it doesn’t matter if you don’t have any Ghanaian restaurants near you – you can easily make red-red and kelewele at home! The genius of this food lies in the fact that so few ingredients come together in such a vibrant and utterly unique way. I really hope you’ll try it!


(As much as I love this dish, I should tell you that I’ve made just a few tiny adjustments; primarily in reducing the traditional amount of red palm oil from nearly a cup (!!!) to just a couple of tablespoons. The flavor is so strong that you’ll still get the idea, but your heart gets to still keep pumping and not completely clog up. You’re welcome!)

  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 tbsp red palm oil (this is essential to get the real flavor of this dish)
  • 2-3 tbsp peanut (groundnut) oil
  • 5-6 hand-crushed canned plum tomatoes, plus a few dashes of juice
  • 1 veggie bouillon cube, unsalted
  • 2-3 hot chilies such as habanero, seeds removed (unless you can take the extreme heat of the seeds), and pounded to a paste
  • salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Simmer the black-eyed peas in a large stockpot in just enough water to cover them until tender, 45 min-hour. Drain. (Keep checking the water levels to make sure the pot doesn’t dry out.)
  2. Meanwhile, in a deep skillet, fry the onions in the palm and peanut oils until the onions begin to brown. Add the chilies and a dash of salt and stir another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and veggie bouillon cube, and simmer about 10 more minutes. Mash the mixture up into a sauce-like consistency and add the drained beans.
  4. Simmer another 10-15 minutes.
  5. While that’s simmering, you can make your kelewele.


  • 2-3 ripe plantains
  • ½ tsp powdered hot pepper
  • ½ -1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp palm oil
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil


  1. Slice the plantains into one-inch thick discs. Mix all of the spices and water together in a bowl, stir in the plantains and stir until they’re covered with the mixture.
  2. Fry the plantain slices in the oil until crispy and brown; about 5 minutes on each side.

This meal is perfect with a cold glass of ginger beer!

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