Banku with Okro Soup, the popular Ghanaian delicacy
Banku is a power meal. Literally. Braimah Isaac Kamoko, also known as Bukom Banku, a Ghanaian professional boxer with an undefeated record of 26-0-0 (20 KO) who currently holds the World Professional Boxing Federation Light heavyweight Belt is quoted to have said: “When I eat Banku I get more power, when I don’t eat Banku I can’t train. I don’t like drink.”
Banku is one of the staple foods enjoyed by all tribes inhabiting Ghana. It is a meal that visitors who want to truly experience authentic Ghanaian life absolutely must try. There are many chop bars in Accra and elsewhere in the country where this can be tried at an affordable price.
Perhaps you may want to prepare this meal after you have left Ghana. It is not difficult at all as you will see.
1 pound of Beef
1/2 pound of Wele (cow skin)
1/2 medium sized Salmon
1 pound chopped Okro
1 medium tomato
1 large Onion
10 – 15 peppers (kpakpo shito)
3 or 4 Garden Eggs
1/2 cup Palm Oil
Chop the onion and cut and season the meat. Leave it to marinate for about 15 minutes.
Put the meat in a pot without water and and steam. The meat will release its juices. To prevent burning where the juice released is not sufficient, add a little water and keep on fire till meat is tender enough for your taste.
Blend the tomato and pepper.
Wash and cut the wele into 2 to 2 inch rolls and wash thoroughly. Depending on where you got it and what state it was in, you may have to peel a black layer from the inside. You can have this done at the market. When you get it from a supermarket, this is already done. If it is very thick and hard, steam it in salted water with some bay leaves. Some people steam it with the meat, but I think it overwhealms the taste and smell of the meat.
Chop the okro..
Cut the stalks off the Garden eggs then cut them lengthwise down the middle. Put them in a pot with enough water to cover them then bring to a boil. Cover and cook till the white fleshy part turns translucent (10-15 minutes). Separate the flesh from the seeds and skin, add a little water and blend till smooth.
Heat the Palm oil in a pot and fry the onions.
Fry until they get soft but not long enough to start browning. Add the tomato/pepper pure and simmer till the liquid evaporates and it begins to fry.
While the sauce cooks, get your salmon ready. If is straight from the market, just split it down the middle and rinse out the insides (the inside are not removed from fish that is to be smoked) as well as the outside. Be sure to keep the skin.
Add the salmon, meat, wele and garden egg puree. Strir gently for a minute or 2 then add a cup of water and lower the fire.
Put the chopped Okro in a pot, add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking/coking soda or a small lump of Kanwe (the local version easily got in the market). Stir until it starts to draw (that is, becomes “slippery”).
You know it’s ready when it begins to bubble to the point of almost boiling over the edge of the pot.
Add the okro to the main pot and stir it in.
Lower the fire some more and leave to simmer gently.
We are using 1 pound of cassava dough to 2 pounds of corn dough. Since cassava is usually has more lumps, we will prepare that first.
Place it in a container and add just enough water to cover it (about 1 1/2 cups for 1 pound). Mix and mash up all the dough to form a watery paste with your hands. Pick out all the lumps and fibre that are in it. Pour the mixture into a pot and repeat the process with the corn dough.
When this is done, add 1 teaspoon of salt and place on fire. Using a wooden spoon/spatula (there is a locally adapted spoon/spatula/paddle made especially for Banku and similar dishes), stir continuously until it starts to thicken. It needs the constant motion of stirring to keep it from turning lumpy prematurely.
As it progresses, it will start to gather at the bottom of the spoon and will need more and more force to stir. Reduce the heat. Now use a dish cloth or towel to hold the pot in place, and still with the wooden spoon, start to knead it. Do this for about 5 minutes resting intermittently. Add 1 cup of water and move the mass of soon-to-be banku until it is almost floating in the water. Use the wooden spoon to make a few holes in the mass so that the just added water can get all around. Increase the fire and cover.
As the water boils and evaporates, it is cooking the dough further. Turn it a few times during this process (About 5 Minutes). When the water is almost finished, turn down the heat and start kneading the banku again. Another 5 minutes should do it.
Use a small bowl or even the woodens poon itself to shape the banku into your prefered serving sizes.
Serve Banku with the Okro soup.