For some of us, the kitchen wasn’t our favorite place when growing up, over the years it grew on us. The traditional African setting required that the girl child is abreast with the kitchen vocabulary, and more importantly, cooking skills common in most homes and exclusive to one’s home.
Here are my favorite 5 :
1. PEELING ONIONS
There was a point where grandma gave me the secret to reducing the tears – “put a matchstick in-between your lips before you begin peeling the onions”. Uhm… yeah! Thanks grandma, I’m grown now. The best way to reduce tears is to reduce the amount of time spent when working it.
But mother’s skill made sense;
1. Slice a vertical opening to peel off the vertical layers
2. Peel off and discard only the dry and dead layers
3. Slice off the tip of the top of the onion, and if necessary, the bottom
4. Do not leave the onion in water, “it sucks out the juice”. Wash and use right away.
2. GRINDING PALM KERNEL FRUITS
Before the advent of the Neat products, preparing palmnut soup was one of the messiest cooking jobs for any Ghanaian adolescent. The ‘river’ was grinding the fruits in the mortar with the pestle to separate the chaff from the nuts, when we get crossed it, everything was easier.
Mother said when pounding, it’s more effective to hit a side of the mortar and not the middle. When one hits the side of the mortar, the grinded palm kernel fruit in the bottom rises up and falls like a cycle in consistency, for evenness.
3. MAKING SHITO (BLACK PEPPER)
Shito takes time to prepare, and of course more spices as compared to our traditional earthenware grinded pepper. Growing up, mother made Shito by grinding the onions, garlics, ginger and grinding dry the shrimps, dry herrings and dry pepper, then frying them in hot oil. A few years ago, she found an easier way;
1. Blend your onions, garlics, ginger and other local spices together with oil.
2. Pour the mix in a hot cooking pan
3. Keep stirring when it starts to bubble until it turns a bit brownish
4. Pour your dry shrimps, dry herrings, dry pepper into the mix and stir
5. Check for salt and add an appropriately
6. Keep stirring occasionally until it’s black and texture is dry enough for your consumption
I tried this procedure a couple of times and noticed how easier and faster it was as compared to the previous procedure.
4. WORKING GINGER – TO PEEL OR NOT TO PEEL?
We used to peel off the skin every time until about a decade back when grandma saw me peeling it off in the kitchen and stopped me. She said to just wash it because the skin also carried some nutrients and benefits.
Yeah! I believed her. Apparently, both ingesting ginger and applying it topically have major anti-aging benefits; containing around 40 antioxidant properties that prevent free radical damage and protects against aging.
5. SALT IN THE FUFU BUSINESS
There are basically 2 ways of adding salt to Fufu; before it’s pounded or during pounding. Experiments reveal that adding salt to the water with cassava and plantain on the fire before pounding the mix preserves the Fufu longer, unlike adding the salt to the mix in the mortar.
Many of these skills are timeless and priceless we are definitely bound to hand them down to our children. What skills did your mother hand down to you? Share in the comments below.
Miz Akwele is a SeeMyChow guest food blogger contributor. She's a model and has her blog at purpleshades.net. She currently works at CreoConcepts as an assistant to the General Manager and is also their social media assets manager. She feels blessed to have the superpower of staying slim no matter how much food she eats.