Zoe's Ghana Kitchen Cookbook Review

By West Africa Cooks, 20 April, 2017

A lot of hard work, research and thought has gone into producing this cook book. Initially the sumptuous gold colours, design style and layout stand out from other books which make me really like it. It looks and feels like a quality hardback. The Ghanaian Kente *cloth style is used throughout and in the content section divides. Know this Kente has meaning in Africa and the author Zoe Adjonyoh makes us aware of this. She is saying I choose colour and textiles for a reason.

African Food, Recipes

Zoe's Ghana Kitchen uses the colour gold and yellow. Gold is the colour of royalty and wealth. Yellow is preciousness, fertility and beauty

The message to the reader is strong I am a book about modern African recipes and cooking bold and bright; wealth and power. You are going to enjoy discovering the best of my knowledge of Ghanaian food, my recipes and learn about African culture. You can tell that it is a passionate publication even before you open the first page, which starts with her personal story on heritage, food and her childhood.

About Who We Are?

Many of us will identify with a life growing up in Europe or America but somehow being different to the advertised and mass promoted one in comparison to our classmates, neighbours and later work colleagues because some or all of our culture and heritage is African. Not quite English. Even if you have never lived or even known about your African roots because of your immediate physical traits and skin colour you are associated with overseas. Zoe's parents are Ghanaian and Irish, she sets the scene in her introduction of how we do not see Africa represented in cookery shows. We gain an understanding of her early life, identity and how she made her own way a child of two different cultures African and European, black and white. Shopping in Ridley road market, north London and holidaying in Ireland. So we flip it on it's head. Dual heritage gives us new ways to look at ourselves, who we are and our cultures.

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A Demand For African Heritage

Everyday we are bombarded by business with images, video and messages of a mostly white world celebrating at the top table of society managing all of us without question. The food and publishing markets are an example of this dominance. It is therefore refreshing to have in my hands a book that is not about the foods that I would never cook or eat or sells to me a lifestyle associated with people who do not look like me.

I have always said that real opportunities exist for second and third generation African entrepreneurs in today's food industry. We know that as the demand from the mass population for new food and drink experiences increases, so does the opportunity for passionate African and Caribbean cooks who realise this. Anyone with an idea to deliver a unique gastronomic experience in this instance Ghanaian can launch their own successful food and drink business. Get the marketing right and your idea will sell. Connect intelligently African and European cultures to create exciting new businesses which appeal to consumers in the crossover markets of music, fashion and food. Manage it end to end.

Zoe a talented writer by education has been attempting to grow and satisfy this crossover or African market with her business in the food industry. Zoe has a passion for writing and can cook. These dual skills at a high level in the African food industry are rare, so encouraged by a literary agent† we create an opportunity and as a result an wonderful book.

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Inside The Book

The book is split into a guide to ingredients common in Ghana for example a look at different types of peppers. Peppers are used in sauce dishes like shito and red sorrel dried hibiscus flowers used in drinks by the name sorrel and sobolo. Commonly used in Ghanaian cuisine we get descriptions and images of banku, kenkey, fufu and groundnuts. We are shown fruits and vegetables like baobab and pawpaw then insight into kontomire (bitter leaves) and yam. If you wish to find out about yam, Zoe gives us five ways to cook this root vegetable. We also can read about five ways to cook plantain. Yes kelewele is in here too. It is a multidimensional book which takes a brief pause on food and give us a musical tour of Zoe's favorite songs. Music played in her kitchen and cooking or at her supperclubs maybe. I think it a good idea to hit all your senses with Africa. After taking this break from cooking we head towards the meat of this book the recipes.

Some recipes for you to try

Whole Grilled Tilapia, Red Red Stew and Jollof Fried Chicken of which there are well over one hundred sectioned into the following:

  • salads
  • fish and seafood
  • veggie dishes
  • meat
  • sides desserts
  • drinks and snacks
  • dips
  • sauces and salsas

I am going to highlight these recipes too as ones for you to investigate and cook also Jametown Grilled Prawns; Fante-Fante Fante Fish Soup; Kontomire & Apem Stew; Spinach & Agushi Curry; Antoinette's Ewe Fetri Detsi; Lamb Palaver; Veggie Jollof and Waakye Rice.

Zoe continues her book which you can tell has been in the making for years as it includes stories about her life which takes the reader on her journey to Ghana to meet her extended family; the food she eats for breakfast; on the streets in Accra the capital city; her trip to the coastal port Jamestown and visiting the Kaneshie market. I can imagine at the time she gathered hundreds of recipes and took ton loads of pictures for this project, plus talked to many people. Zoe writes about also how she is perceived in her father's home country.

Zoe's Ghana Kitchen Traditional Ghanaian recipes re-mixed for the modern kitchen

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Ghanaian Style

I was saying to myself four years ago I have very few African cook books. There are over fifty countries on the African continent, millions of people yet few cooking books from each of the countries. Now we have a book that has set a new standard for other to measure against. It is Ghanaian, West African cooking.

This book is a message to us to expand our horizons beyond white European cooking. There is gold, black and brown. Now let's attend Ghanaian, Nigerian and Ethiopian food popups. Let's attend all African supperclubs, support with our money and give feedback to African and Caribbean chefs so that they can scale up to restaurants creating employment. We approve Zoe of your pioneering work. Our best wishes go out to you and good luck with the restaurant business and your next book project. You can purchase Zoe's Ghana Kitchen from Amazon now.

Other Ghanaian Cook Books (UK)

Ghana Cookbook by Fran Osseo-Asare
Favourite Traditional Recipes of Ghana: For All Food Lovers and Great Cooks Everywhere by Dina Naa Ameley Ayensu
A Plate in the Sun by Patti Gyapomaa Sloley

Further Reading

African American culinary identity. The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W Twitty. Also see Cook Book Buys (US)

More Ghanaian Foodies and Businesses

Eat Jollof
Ghanaian Supper Club
Chalé! Let's Eat
Chef Fafa
Big Mama Food
Pattis Menu
Jason's Little Kitchen
Mama Vasty

West Africa Cooks

*Kente cloth is one of the most famous from Africa it is cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips, made by Asante and Ewe weavers using specially designed looms. Kente cloth designs vary, with the different designs, colors, and patterns each having their own special meanings and stories. The colour have meanings like Blue------peacefulness, harmony, good fortune, love; Gold-----royalty, wealth, spiritual purity (The colour of gold is used to remind us also that Ghana is a country of vast reserves if Gold. Gold is found everyday, traded and kingdoms made of such as the Ashanti empire. Gold is king in Ashanti sika ne ohne) and Green----vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, good health

†Literary agent Elise Dillsworth. Elise is a champion of African and Caribbean literature who is an agent with many years in the book trade as a talent spotters for writers. She got the ball rolling with this enterprise. Follow Twitter @EliseDillsworth


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