Why do people love to travel?
Isn’t ‘Food’ the most important reason? Aren’t you trying to get away from your daily diet of Dal+Chaval (one of the Indian staple food i.e. lentil soup + rice), at least for a couple of days?
Ooo Charlie! If you are visiting Rome and only Dal-Chaval is served throughout your stay, will you still enjoy the Colosseum with the same level of excitement? Well, you won’t understand my argument if you visit foreign lands under a package tour serving you Indian food! Nevertheless, my point is local cuisine is very important to soak in the culture of the new place.
But again for how long will you survive with the world’s best pizzas and pastas? I bet at the end of your foreign holiday, your heart and tummy will crave for a bowl of Dal-Chaval made at home.
If you hail from the Southern part of India, like I do, then rice plays a major role in your food life. A bowl of Rice + Rasam (it can be referred as a soup made of tomato + tamarind+ complicated Indian masalas) or Rice + Yogurt + Mango pickle or Rice + Fish curry or even better Fish Fry will be just enough to make you realise what heaven feels like and will probably water your mouth right away (like what is happening to me now), if you haven’t had it for a long time.
For the Northerners of India, heaven is found in a bowl of Dal Khichadi (rice +lentils+ veggies) or Rice+ Rajma (red kidney beans gravy) or Dal Baati Churma (Google it, it is complicated to explain) or hot Parathas (stuffed Indian bread)+ yogurt+ pickle. Let me stop myself before I delve into the specialities of other Indian regions. Actually, it isn’t possible to capture the diversity of Indian food which changes every 200 kms you travel across the country!
Oh boy! I think living away from India is making me fall in love with her all over again…
Coming back to Ghana, so if it has been possible to guess, this post is all about the Ghanaian bowl of heaven, their comfort food and hands down there is a clear winner among all dishes here and it is called Banku! (I bet for the Bengalis, it would have sounded like Piku!)
This dish is cooked and packed in plastic pouches to be consumed for a couple of days. This dish remains edible for days without the need of a refrigerator.
Frankly, I am not a big fan of Banku. For me, the food has to look appealing to trigger my taste buds and to bring out the monster in me who loves food. So Banku fails in these aspects as it is a white round ball which is sticky, sometimes bitter because of the fermentation and packed in plastic. Banku is relished with grilled Tilapia fish or with Okro soup. But on low budget days, Banku’s accompaniment is Shito (sauce made out of chillies+ tomatoes+ onions + fried/dried fish).
The ingredients for Banku are simple- just maize powder and cassava powder (Cassava or Tapioca is a staple food in Kerala, a southern Indian state where we lovingly called it ‘Kappa’) and some salt to taste.
I was fortunate to find volunteers who took me through the preparation of Banku.
Maize and Cassava powders are mixed together. Add water for the right consistency. Stir the mixture till it thickens.
Banku!!!! a Ghanaian delicacy
Ready to be consumed and to be stored for a good number of days. Mind you, this food is really heavy. I have never managed to eat even a quarter of one packet. If you manage to finish one packet, you will probably sleep through the day.
Asanka is ubiquitous in Ghanaian kitchens. They are clay grinding/mashing bowls with ridged surfaces and are used with a wooden masher. Ghanaians prefer Asankas to electric mixers, as the texture and flavour of Shito is retained. After the grinding of the chillies+ tomatoes+ onions, fried fish is added for that extra taste. Garnished with onions.
Banku with Shito
Now Ghanaian mouths must be watering!
If you order Banku at a high-end restaurant, it will still look the same!