Spicy talk with Kyekyeku

translate button at the bottom! + Kyekyeku’s recipe so keep on reading 😉

1: Hi tell us who you are and what do you do?
Well even though my name is written starting with a ‘ky’, its actually pronounced starting with ‘ch’ like in Church! I am one with my music, meeting world grooves with Ghanaian style Highlife, 70’s Afrofunk and evergreen Afrobeat.DSC01722
I arrange and direct my band with which I am on tour at the moment in Europe and I think I belong to a new breed of Ghanaian and African musicians breathing new energy into music from the continent.

2: What is your favorite Ghanaian dish and why? 
Straight Up Ampesie! Which goes well with all sorts of stew (sauce). My favourite combinations are with Nkontomire (Cocoyam leaves stew) or Garden Egg stew.
Ampesie itself is a holistic name for a combination of tubers and plantain. A classic dish is presented as boiled Yam and boiled Green Plantain served with Nkontomire cooked in red palm oil;
For me this dish just makes my day, its secret are yet to be found out by the world as a whole. It’s not difficult to prepare and it carries a great Ghanaian signature to it.

3: Describe your relation with traditional food.
To me traditional food means less processed and less chemically induced. So my relationship with Ghanaian traditional dishes is concerned with getting bio as well as connecting to my roots.
I think of food as something that evolves with the survival factors of any culture. If any food is still on the menu today, that’s because it has kept the people consuming that food alive to today. Most Ghanaian dishes have been around since the first human communities lived in the tropical regions of Ghana. They way of cooking a certain meal has been influenced by a lot of environmental factors, which have also shaped the people, their culture and heritage. For instance, this dish is held so high that, it is mashed into Etoh and given to the deities of the shrine. Of course there is fufu and modern day jollof and all but no one dares give those as offering in a shrine. Traditional foods occupy a long organic history and that’s why I relate to them more.

4: Ghanaian food or food from Europe? 
As I live also some of my time in Europe these days, I would say best of both worlds; I just need me a hot spicy chili or ‘shito’ to transpose any European dish to a quasi-Ghanaian taste.
In Europe I don’t think twice before eating raw fish or half cooked meet, ham or Jambon. I dare not eat like that in Ghana, I could be sick really bad because it’s a tropical country and germs grow 3 times as fast and can live easily in food that’s why Ghanaian dishes have evolved to be well or overcooked sometimes just to kill the germs before eating which subsequently kills a lot of the nutrients. I know that the nutrients of food for the human is best obtained in raw food, but that could come with lots of germs too, fortunately in Europe the weather already eliminates a lot of germs that you could have in Africa; so you can almost eat raw and obtain a higher level of nutrients. Therefore even though I love Ghanaian food for their passion and spice, I love European food for the health side and I am talking about bio ingredient European diet, not the chemical laden ingredient meals.

5: You are a musician. that can be very intense especially now you are touring true Europe, is there any food or drinks you take or don’t take to stay energetic and fit?
Well one thing common to almost all Ghanaian touring musicians is Shito- a hot spicy mixture of peppers mashed dried fish, lobster and ginger fired up in oil. We all have bottles of those in our bags, all we have to do is add just a little to whatever food that we get and we are good to go because European food can taste quite blunt to us often times. But we are super easy with food with no specific demands.
We hardly drink alcohol- a beer once in a week maybe. Lots of water and just a little bit of coffee. No tobacco.
We look out for foods with lots of carbohydrates, we prefer a side of rice for any sauce meet or fish that you offer, then fruits or their juice. This works great for us. Dessert is not primary part of our meal as we know it and so we don’t bother ourselves with that.

6: Are you eating the food of the countries that you visit or do you try to get local food while being on the road? How is that working for you?
As I love travelling and experiencing other cultures, I love eating food from other countries and I have tried quite a lot. From Spanish food, Asian (Japanese and Chinese), French, Indian, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Ivorian, Senegalese, German, Moroccan, South African food etc. This is one of the ways I get into the minds of a culture and feel closer to that. It works out well. Accra has some great restaurants fro food from some of these cultures so I could still eat international even if I am not in another country.

7: Could you live in any of the countries you have recently been if there was absolutely no access to any traditional ingredients? What would you do?
I could easily live in India or south East Asia. I find their food and taste similar to Africa; they love spice and hot spice as we do. I could easily live in North Africa as well as the Mediterranean lands. Scandinavia maybe difficult as well as North America but these days there are kitchens of every continent in every country so I could cheat.

8: What dish or snack from another country (non African) do you like best?
Nems from Vietnam are my favourite. When I go to new place, I try to see if there is an Indian or Vietnamese restaurant around. This will be my go to places if I feel the need for close to African taste. So dishes such as Vietnamese Nasi Goreng or any Roginjosh is awesome for me. On a clichéd side, vindaloos are my favourite too.

9: I want to ask you t share with us your favorite dish recipe which ingredients do you use and how you prepare it 🙂

1.Green Plantain- Apem
2.Tuber of Yam- Afasieh
3.Fresh Cocoyam (Nkontomire) leaves picked in the morning.lol
4.Red palm Oil
5.Kpapko Shito pepper
6.Fermented slice of fish (momone aboka)
10. Smoked Fish.
11. Avocado
Don’t worry about measurements and quantities because grandma always gauged the family size with her eyes and decided how much would be enough for all. Lets remain basic

1.    Peel and Boil Yam and Plantain until both are cooked well into the interior but still solid. Should take.10 mins in boiling point water
2.   Sieve water away and separate plantain immersed in cool water
Keep, yam covered to keep warm and still soft.
3.   Boil Cocoyam leaves together with pepper for 7mins at boiling point.
4.    Heat palm oil. Chop and add onion and Garlic
5. Mash together boiled Nkontomire and peppers. Add salt to taste
6. Add mixture of Nkontomire and peppers to warm red oil and stir.
Leave on fire to cook for 7mins
7. Add basil, and other herby spices as desired

The above steps go well for vegetarians. For non vegetarians,
Add fermented slice of fish to fry till fully dissolved in red palm oil for
good aroma. Add slices of smoked tuna or smoked Salmon or      whatever fish you want. Leave for 4 mins and continue from step 5.

Finally, serve Ampesie with Nkontomire side by side in one plate as is done traditionally allowing the red oil to colour a bit the yam and plantain.
Peel and add avocado and eat dish while still warm.
W’ato me ooo!

Thank you very much, any last words for people who are new comers into the Ghanaian kitchen?
I think the world needs new adventures in cuisine and African food offers that. The world is too stuck on restaurant menus prepared after Italian, French or Spanish menus with Asian right behind. The new adventures in culinary delights lie in African food and Ghanaian dishes to be biased. Great thing is that for most Ghanaian dishes, you would be eating close to traditional way if you did now than say in a few years time when they would be adopted to fit restaurant menus in which case they would be compromised for time of preparing and way of serving and presentation to meet so called sophisticated patrons. Ghanaian dishes offer a lot for vegetarians as well. The time to enjoy them is now!


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