Friday, February 20, 2015

Red Red from Ghana (Black-Eyed Peas with Plantains)

I have so many foods I miss from Ghana. It's hard to believe we've been back for almost 6 1/2 years now. This meal took us right back. My husband loved this meal and it was his usual lunch on school days. It was easily his favorite and most frequent meal in Ghana.

Named "Red Red" for a couple of reasons. When we asked why it was named this way in Ghana, they would tell us that the ripe plantains are called red and from the red palm oil. When I was checking on the name online, I came up with many recipes that included tomatoes in them. Since we don't recall tomatoes being part of the dish we remember, I opted to go middle road with some tomato paste for flavor. Tomato paste is used very frequently in Ghana. Also, traditionally the plantains are unhealthily deep fried. We opted to bake them, and didn't notice much of a difference. They were perfectly sweet and soft on their own, to compliment the beans.

There are a couple of ingredients in this meal that made it difficult to make this meal authentic until recently when we found some gari, made from cassava. One other ingredient was the red palm oil, harvested from palm oil trees.

My husband says it's a keeper. We all loved it. Enjoy!

Red Red (Black-Eyed Peas with Plantains) 

In a large skillet, heat:
1/4 cup red palm oil

Add and cook until soft:
2 medium onions, sliced
1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped (optional, but lends an authentic flavor)
5 cloves garlic, pressed and chopped

Add and let cook for a couple of minutes:
1 teaspoon curry powder
red pepper (to taste, or use the chili and onion condiment below)
1 Tablespoons tomato paste
salt to taste

Finally add, and let simmer:
4-6 cups cooked black-eyed peas (save the cooking liquid)
(This is about what you get when you cook up 1 pound dry beans)
bean cooking water for thinning the stew to almost soupy

Meanwhile, prepare the baked plantains:

6-8 very ripe (preferably at least 1/2 black/yellow) plantains, washed, peeled, cut into about 1 inch sections

Arrange the peeled and sliced ripe plantains on a baking sheet in single layer.
Bake at 350 F until done (softened), about 30-45 minutes.

Serve up the Red Red with some slices of baked plantain. Making sure there is liquid for the gari to sprinkle on and soak up, enjoy as a meal.

Process fresh red chili pepper in a mortar and pestle, adding some salt. Stir in some thinly sliced red onion (more typical in Ghana, but you may use any kind of onion for this). Put on the table to serve alongside as a condiment.

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