Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is the inspiration of writer, cook and punster Zoe Adjonyoh – she publicises her pop-up events with slogans such as “It’s Ghana be Tasty” and “It’s Ghana be Huge.” Born to a Ghanaian Dad and an Irish Mum, Zoe grew up in London with her father’s home cooking. She has made it her mission to introduce gorgeous Ghanaian dishes such as peanut butter stew, red red and kenkey to East London, and she’s doing it with style.
Ghana Stand Up! at Studio Gi was a celebration of Ghana’s Independence, with 56 lucky guests to represent each year of freedom. Elections in December have cemented the country’s reputation as one of Africa’s most stable democracies (see this film to find out about Ghana’s passion for politics), so there’s a lot to celebrate. Not least the food! Ghana is famous for herby soups and stews, dense with peanuts, okra, yam and plantains.
At Ghana Stand Up! Zoe served peanut butter soup with sweet fried plantain, mini yam balls, agushi with palaver sauce, waakye, mashed palm fruit yam and Independence Surprise for dessert. DJ Aries provided a spicy soundtrack of Azonto and Afrobeat, the crowd was friendly and the mood upbeat. After the food, Zoe went round each table with a bottle of fiery 46% proof Alomo Bitters and drank a shot with each group of guests. Apparently you can buy Alomo Bitters at Ridley Road Market if you ask in the right way – there was a funny story about it, but after a shot or two it slipped my mind. You’ll just have to go to Zoe’s next event, which might feature an Azonto dance-off as well as food. Trust me Hackney, it’s Ghana be great…
The mashed yam balls with golden gari crust are crunchy and delicious and make a good starter: Zoe dished up hers with a dollop of Scotch bonnet and kpakpo (green pepper) salsa. Waakye, pronounced “waa-che”, is a really simple and nutritious Ghanaian staple of rice and beans. Millet (waakye) stalks give the red colouring to the rice. Waakye is eaten for breakfast or lunch in Ghana, and sold by street vendors throughout the country. Serve it with any meat-based stew, or for veggies with a boiled egg and spicy salsa.