Category Archives: Ghana

Pre-move chickpea burgers with feta (deconstructed…)

downtown Accra

A food stall in Accra: you might find ground nuts, bananas, drinks, chopped fruit, plantain chips, ready-made porridge in a plastic bag, bread rolls with peanut butter or chocolate spread …. the selection can be impressive, and can change through the day. I bought eggs here. Mobile vendors push handcarts with meat pies or Fan-Yo icecream sachets (not bad), honking a bicycle horn which is very much part of the soundscape of Accra. So are the chickens, even downtown. You might meet someone pulling a cart of fresh coconuts: fresh coconut water is easily available here, they chop off the tops with a machete and hand the coconut to you with a straw. A colleague buys a couple coconuts and pours the coconut water into a bottle for more ease of transport. I’ve been wondering whether there is any coconut meat in these green coconuts, to be explored: might be nice for a sweetpotato curry I have in mind.

I’m moving next weekend from the temporary accommodation to a new flat here in Accra, with the same two friends, which will be nice. I am looking forward to unpacking various bags and boxes, packed three months ago: where is the bread knife, and the French press? Two months of filter coffee carefully drained through paper towel is enough (a luxury problem, I know, I an not quite desperate enough to drink Nescafe) Time to use up ingredients again, as the kitchen is being packed up for the move, so these deconstructed chickpea burgers with feta were assembled.

Chickpea burgers with feta (very crumbly…)

700 grammes cooked chickpeas (about two tins worth)
2 onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 stalk celery, if you have it
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 small fresh chili peppers, if you have it (or 2 tsp cayenne pepper)
200 grammes of feta
2 eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
Breadcrumbs to bind these, maybe 1/3 cup? (I intended to add this but did not have any breadcrumbs, and skipped this – which may why the finished burgers were so crumbly….)
Sunflower oil to fry

To serve: Thai sweet chilli sauce

Mash the chickpeas (mine were cooked the week before and frozen, if so defrost well before.) I used an immersion blender, slow going until I added eggs and chopped vegetables. Add peeled and chopped onions, garlic, chili pepper and the grated carrot. Crumble in the feta. Add pepper if needed, not too much salt as the feta will be salty too. Shape this mix with your hands to ten burgers or so, heat oil in a frying pan and fry the burgers on both sides until slightly golden. Serve with sweet Thai chilli sauce.

Note: If you have breadcrumbs or oatmeal, and add that to mixture with a splash of milk, it might help stop these from being so crumbly.  Grilling them in the oven (on both sides) might also work.

Home-made bread rolls to go with them. Very nice! You can see the chickpea burger is not holding its shape well, though flavour was great. Reheated well next day for lunch.





Coconut carrot cake, Stranger Things round two

Fante kenkey

Fante kenkey (fermented maize dumplings), steamed in plantain leaves. Ga kenkey is not dissimilar, but is salted and wrapped in corn husks (if I have not gotten them mixed up again….). There are some interesting fermented foods in Ghana. Kenkey can be stored unrefrigerated, is produced from local crops, and has probiotic properties. This was at my local corner shop in Accra, where I had gone to buy eggs.

local shop Accra

Groundnuts, toilet paper, biscuits, drinks: what do you need? I needed eggs.

buying eggs in Accra

We are still waiting for travel clearances for our return to Italy, so today I’ve defrosted the freezer and scrubbed the balcony, both sweat-dripping processes. Clothes and bookshelves are being given away, cupboards are emptied. Next weekend we might be moving all we have into three taxis and moving into an Airbnb, but everything is on standby, so I have just collapsed under the fan to watch “The Wedding Planner”. And yesterday, we finished the last four episodes of Stranger Things season two, with a friend, homemade pizza and this cake.


It’s basically BBC Good Good Food’s Coconut carrot slices  which looks amazing. See link for recipe. But the recipe calls for 250g butter and 300g light muscovado sugar, which a) seems like an awful lot and b) we did not have. We are emptying the kitchen and making do with what we have. So I made it roughly following the recipe, but with only 100g butter and 100g sugar + 2 tbs honey, and it turned out just fine. The grilled coconut topping makes the cake really good, with a pinch of vanilla salt added.

Note: the recipe calls for 2 tsp mixed spice, which we did not have either, so I used cinnamon and allspice. Maybe 3 tsp next time, or fresher spices. The buttery coconut topping reminds me of Danish Drømmekage, which is on my to-make list. But looking at what is left in pantry and fridge, I think sticky toffee pudding is next, also to celebrate my husband’s birthday. Despite all being so uncertain about our move, we have to breathe a bit. 

The rest of Stranger Things was also excellent!


Life in limbo: chocolate pudding


Well, we thought were leaving Accra mid-November….. but travel clearances are taking their time, so life is in limbo right now. As we were assured all was on track, we gave notice on our flat, and the lease runs out in two weeks. I am taking deep breaths and reminding myself that I do have a job next month, somewhere, that we have our health and this will be resolved. Still, this is stressing me out to no end. Short term accommodation is hard to find here, and expensive, and right now we do not know if the delay will be days, weeks or months.

The Guardian had a great article today, which resonated with me also in times of uncertainty: “Cooking is perfect to empty your brain of bad men and the things they do

…. Crisp but floury potatoes, and slow-cooked lamb, tender and almost melting off the bone, are like the safety of a friend’s hug. Cooking is sorcery. Some days we desperately need its magic.

Exactly.  World news is depressing, stories of sexual harassment keep coming, and are only too believable. My challenges are small, but some days I just want to curl up in the sofa and watch Gilmore Girls. Well, when all else fails, there is still cooking. I am still emptying fridge, freezer and food stocks, in case by some miracle we move in the next 20 days, and/or if we move to a rented room somewhere. Que sera, sera. Let there be chocolate pudding……….


I started with Smitten Kitchen’s Best chocolate pudding, because her recipes are the best. The plan was to use evaporated milk and Italian Hulala UHT whipping cream, as in photo above, but  Iwas too distracted to remember that, as I was watching the YouTube Yacht Rock series on my laptop at the same time, which is very funny….. So the pudding was all done with milk powder. The chocolate was Guatemalan, as we are lucky enough to have a friend who works in cocoa. Not enough chocolate left, so I used up the last of our Ghanaian cocoa as well. Ghana is the second largest cocoa exporter in the world, after Côte d’Ivoire, and we get excellent cocoa here.

Use-it-up chocolate pudding

30 grammes cornstarch
120 grams icing sugar  (we are low on regular sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
700 ml whole milk (I used powdered milk & water)
1 tbs vanilla sugar (Norwegian – just use 1/2 tsp vanilla extract if easier to find)
95 gr bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
65 gr unsweetened Ghana cocoa (last of package, you could use a bit less)
Optional: sugar sprinkles on top

Combine the cornstarch, powdered milk, icing sugar and salt in a medium saucepan, Whisk in the water/milk, and bring to low boil. Add chocolate and cocoa powder, stir well so all is melted and mixed in. After ten minutes or so it will thicken: taste to see how you like flavour and texture. I added an extra pinch of vanilla salt at this stage. Also added: sugar sprinkles on top, as we in are the “everything must go” stage of pre-moving. Cool and eat: this makes at least six servings, even for stressed people, as it was very dark and chocolate-y.

Piling up items to ship or give away: there is a classifieds section here in Accra where people sell all kinds of things due to house moves: furniture, used shoes, kitchenware, toys… I never thought I might be one of them, but if we have to store stuff with friends while we are in temporary lodgings, much more will be shedded. Most just given away, I think, it might also help for good karma for the move.

And to remind myself to keep this in perspective: another neighbour died, as we could see from the red and black funeral drapings on their gate. We have a lot to be grateful for, so I will keep breathing, waiting and maybe have some more chocolate pudding….