Today we are in Ghana, a West African country that borders the Ivory Coast, Togo, Burkina Faso, and the Gulf of Guinea. In 1957 Ghana became the first African-American country of the sub-Sahara to become independent from colonial rule. It is the second most populated country in this region of Africa with a large variety of ethnic groups. Due to its proximity to the equator the climate is either hot and dry or tropical and wet. Ghana is known for its gold production which is the largest in Africa. Love butterflies? Consider visiting Kakum National Park which is home to over 600 species!
The cuisine of Ghana always includes a starch of some sort, it usually being rice, plantains, maize, or cassava. The starches are often paired with soups or stews that primarily have vegetable bases. Meats and spices are also important to their cuisine. The dish I decided to make for Ghana is called red-red, also known as black eyed peas stew. This stew gets some heat from freshly grated ginger and habanero pepper. You can find this meatless meal here (which can be made vegetarian/vegan if vegetable broth is substituted).
Cooking was simple and allowed for me to multitask as I typically do. We substituted the habanero with jalapeno because we are wimps (sorry not sorry). I was able to find ripe plantains at the store and definitely felt comfortable with their preparation.
This was another unique dish. The plantains with beans was an interesting combination, but we thought it worked. It was actually nice to have the sweetness of the plantains contrast with the other savory elements. I didn’t think the rice was necessary with the peas. Marinated chicken or red meat would have paired well. We rated it 7/10.
Hey guys we have made it to 80 COUNTRIES! Isn’t that wild?! For our 80th we are in the lovely Puerto Rico, a country my good friend is from! Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory situated next to the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea. It is one of the most densely populated islands with a whopping 3.5 million citizens. The name translates to “rich port” and was named Puerto Rico because of the gold that could be found in the fresh water sources on the island. It is considered one of the oldest colonies of the world because it was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1493. Today you can explore their numerous beaches and caves along with immersing yourself in the Spanish-Caribbean culture.
Puerto Rico has African, European (mostly Spanish), and Taínos (natives) influence that makes up their wonderfully unique cuisine. The native Taínos influence brings yucca/cassava, avocado, coriander, annatto, pineapples, peanuts, and various hot peppers to the table. The European flare comes from wheat, cumin, onions, garlic, cilantro, dairy, and various meats such as chicken, beef, and lamb. You can find connection to Africa with the use of coconuts, yams, coffee, and various banana fruits such as the plantain! Today I will be making an original recipe of my friend Zory who is from Puerto Rico. Fried rice and beans is a classic Puerto Rican dish that combines several savory Spanish ingredients and is cooked twice in or to achieve the dry and “fried” consistency. She also educated me on plantains and how they pair well with this meal- she wasn’t kidding! They are now one of my favorite salty treats and taste better than fries (in my opinion). The recipe will be available at the bottom of the post.
This meal does take some time, however if you prep as you go it all works out. We decided to air fry some adobo wings which seemed like an appropriate pairing to us. If you have never fried green plantains before make sure to have plenty of veggie oil to fry them with and keep an eye on them so they don’t over cook. The perfect plantain is a nice golden brown. Be warned the rice/beans and plantain combo is VERY filling!
Obviously we adore this dish and think highly of it. I have made it several times and think of it as one of my favorites. The plantains had a nice crunch and reminded me of fried potato. The rice was well seasoned and tasted great with the addition of black beans. Together it is a killer duo. We love love LOVE this dish and rated it 10/10.
Our next adventure awaits in Italy where we will spend one week trying traditional foods simple and complicated. See you next time!