Rice water porridge with stewed berries
There are some undoubted benefits to hanging out in England. I know, I know but, let’s not think about that dreary rainy weather for now. Pop into a market and you’d be hit with a kaleidoscope of colours and vibrancy that states emphatically that winter is over and Spring and Summer are just round the corner. The source of the colours – fruits and berries, are everywhere. Yesterday I passed through Ridley road market, Dalston, in East London and instead of getting bag loads to replenish my African stuff – Yam, plantain, okra etc etc, I ventured close to the cockney stall holders. Theses are the indigenous white folks of London. They manned stalls passed down to them from generations. In a hyper multi-racial market and corner of London they were in the extreme minority amongst the Afghan halal meat sellers, the Caribbean stall holders and the plethora of Ghanaian and Nigerian stall holders who specialised in West African foodstuff.
As I got closer to the fruits and berries stalls links began to connect in my head. I had planned to make rice water porridge the next day. I had also been invited to a wedding that afternoon so I knew the rice water would be the perfect of choices. After all this was an African wedding and trust me you don’t go to those having drank a cup of tea with a scone. Besides I had organised a dinner in a local Nigerian restaurant for the groom to be and a few guys which was great but, we ended up waiting for 2 hours for our meal! I was wary of revenge so I had to play safe. I needed breakfast that will be heavy enough but, not too heavy that I couldn’t do justice to the wedding meal. Ghana’s famous rice water porridge fit the bill perfectly.
Now this is where the berries at the Ridley road market come in. As I gawped at them all I could think about was making a fine stewed berry sauce out of them to go as topping for my rice water porridge. I bought some strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. This covered the entire spectrum of the berries they had on hand on that day.
The next day, preparation started. It took less than 15 minutes to turn the berries into a sweet sauce. I had to taste to make sure that the added sugar was just about right. The berries were ripe and already sweet so no more than a couple of pinches of sugar was necessary. The rice water took a little longer to cook. As usual this was made in the typical Ghanaian fashion with plenty of evaporated milk added to make it creamy. The stewed berries gave this most traditional of porridges a taste that was unique and I suspect could be rather addictive. A small well dug in the middle of the rice water with a generous filling of the berry sauce and voila, this became a meal to shout about from every rooftop in London!
As I expected lunch at the wedding ceremony was not served until early evening. The Ghanaian way. Between 8:00 when I had my rice water porridge and 17:00 when dinner was served my poor old tummy took a reluctant rest! There were, however, no grumblings and strange noises of protest. The rice water topped up with the mixed berry stew had done it’s job. It slowly released its energy to keep me focused on the entertainment and speeches at the wedding!
Click to get the recipe for rice water and stewed mixed berry.