Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen: Traditional Ghanaian Recipes Remixed for the Modern Kitchen, written by Zoe Adjonyoh, highlights the wonderful flavors and ingredients of Ghanaian cuisine with a mixture of homemade favorites and traditional flavors. Featured recipes include Waakye Rice (Rice & Beans), Fante-Fante (Fante Fish Soup), Kyinkyinga (Suya Goat Kebabs), Coconut & Cassava Cake, Nkruma (Pan-Fried Okra), and Milo Milkshake. I will also be including Zoe’s recipe for Bofrot, also known as Puff Puff or the Ghanaian Doughnut, at the end of the post.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Mitchell Beazley in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Zoe Adjonyoh is a writer and cook based in South-East London. Born to a Ghanaian father and Irish mother, she spent her early childhood years in Accra and was first exposed to Ghanaian cooking by watching her father make Chalé (spicy tomato sauce) in the kitchen. While studying for her MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, she started a supper club and pop-up called Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen. She went back to Ghana in 2013 to visit her extended family and deepen her understanding of West African cuisine.
Chapters are divided based on course: Salads; Fish & Seafood; Veggie Dishes; Meat; Sides; Desserts; Drinks & Snacks; and Dips, Sauces & Salsas.
Zoe begins with an introduction to Ghanaian cuisine and her food journey. I fell in love with the incredible amount of detail and heart included in this book. Zoe went back to Ghana at the age of 35 to visit with extended family and learn more about Ghanaian cooking firsthand. She vividly describes the stay at her grandmother’s house, exploring the Kaneshi street market, eating at a Chop House along the beach in Jamestown, and the food and breakfast routine in between.
For those unfamiliar with Ghana, a breakdown of the regional foods of the country is included along with a map. There is also an exceptionally detailed guide to the ingredients common in Ghanaian cooking with descriptions, photos, health benefits, and popular uses. Zoe even includes a list of songs as a soundtrack to cook to (Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen playlist is available for subscription on Spotify) and an additional one at the end of the book to eat to.
The gorgeous photography is provided by Nassima Rothacker with food styling by Polly Webb-Wilson. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a full page photo, generally of the finished dish. Family and travel photos are also scattered throughout the book. The name of the dish is written in English and the original language where applicable. This book was published in Great Britain and the measurements reflect that. Every recipe includes a headnote with background information, tips, serving size, and menu ideas.
This book is a great pick for those interested in Ghanaian cuisine. Zoe features traditional recipes along with some unique dishes that incorporate Ghanaian ingredients. While the recipes stick to the traditional techniques overall, she does create shorthand versions when possible. She also includes a couple of Irish-Ghanaian fusion recipes like Ghanaian-Irish Scotch Eggs and Ghanaian-Irish Stew. Recipes range from easy-to-prepare drinks and sides to the longer simmering stews. Having a market nearby that carries West African ingredients will be helpful along with access to fresh seafood and meats such as goat, lamb, and mutton. Some more difficult to find items include Scotch Bonnet, grains of paradise, puna yam, green kpakpo shito (or green habanero) chillies, gari, agushi, moringa powder, dried red sorrel, Milo powder, and more.
Bofrot (Puff Puff) are spiced Ghanaian doughnuts. The yeast-based dough creates a light and airy doughnut when fried with the warming flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. After frying, the warm Bofrot is rolled in cinnamon sugar for extra sweetness and a little texture (variations of the Bofrot, Puff Puff, Mikate occur between regions and countries with wet/dry versions and different flavorings).
Traditionally, they are made using palm wine. Since palm wine can be difficult to locate, Zoe created this recipe using active dry yeast and a little white wine for the flavor. If you are avoiding wine, use warm water in its place.
Dip the tablespoon in the hot oil before using it to scoop up the dough to keep the batter from sticking. If the doughnut doesn’t hold its shape when added to the oil, mix a little more flour into the too wet batter. Adjust the temperature of the oil as needed to keep the Bofrot from darkening too much before the inside gets a chance to cook.
I also made the Mango and Pineapple Salad, Jollof Fried Chicken, Coconut Rice, and Mango & Lime Smoothie.
The Mango and Pineapple Salad is a simple and refreshing dish. Cubed pieces of mango and pineapple are combined with fruit juices and served with cucumber and arugula. I especially love the added touch of spiced cashews over the top. They were quite addictive.
Jollof Fried Chicken is the most popular dish at Zoe’s street-food and restaurant menus. The strips of chicken are marinated in a Jollof Dry Spice Mix (recipe provided) and buttermilk overnight before coating in seasoned cornflour and frying until crisp and golden. This combination created some of the best fried chicken I have ever tasted. Zoe recommends serving it with Jollof (one-pot rice), Scotch Bonnet Coleslaw or Chunky Yam Chips, and a side of Shito Mayo. Those who enjoy the Jollof flavors will also like the Ghana-fied Caesar Salad, Jollof Spiced Chicken Skewers, and Jollof Relish (Zoe’s Ghana Ketchup).
Coconut Rice comes together easily by simmering long grain rice with coconut milk. It is a great accompaniment to stews. Zoe recommends slicing a few shards of fresh coconut and toasting them for some extra texture.
The Mango & Lime Smoothie was Claire’s absolute favorite. She especially loved the addition of apple juice with the chopped mangos, yogurt, and lime. It comes together easily for a light and refreshing pick-me-up.
Bofrot (Puff Puff) Recipe
Bofrot (Puff Puff)
Excerpt from Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen
Makes 15-20 Doughnuts
40 grams (1 1/2 ounces) caster sugar, plus 50 grams (1 3/4 ounces) for coating
2 1/2 teaspoons fast-action dried yeast
100 milliliters (3 1/2 fl ounces) warm water
2-4 teaspoons white wine
1/2 egg, beaten
70 grams (2 1/2 ounces) strong white flour, sifted
45 grams (1 1/2 ounces) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus 30 grams (1 ounce) for coating
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
500 milliliters (18 fl ounces)-1 litre (1 3/4 pints) vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Mix the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the yeast, measured warm water and wine together in a large bowl and leave to stand for 5 minutes, during which time bubbles should begin to appear as the yeast starts working.
At this point, add the beaten egg, then gradually mix in the flours, baking powder, spices, vanilla extract (if using) and a pinch more salt and mix together well.
Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until the batter has doubled in size.
Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer (the safest option) or heavy-based, deep saucepan filled to just under half the depth of the pan to 160˚C (325 F). Test the temperature of the oil with a small drop of the batter- It should slowly rise to the surface and brown slowly.
Drop a few separate tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes or until golden brown, then turn each borrow over and fry until evenly dark golden brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Mix the extra sugar and cinnamon together on a deep plate, then roll the borrow around the plate to coat them in the mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature on their own- or with clotted cream if you have it!