Birthing Waakye with sautéed spinach on Mothers’ day
Sometimes the most interesting recipes are the ones that are hurriedly put together out of sheer necessity. They are birthed not out of a test kitchen but, out of hunger and convenience. Admittedly these recipes also tend to be confined to the world of “left overs.”
A dear friend cooked the most incredibly delicious waakye for me which has served as lunch for three days in a row. Yes it is that good! My dear refrigerator must be wondering if it will be given other duties other than preserving my waakye. For those who are not familiar with waakye, it is a rice and black eyed beans combo which I suspect is the root of all rice and beans or rice and peas, as the Caribbeans call it, combos. As you can glean from the feature, Ghana’s Waakye, it is a popular dish, especially in the northern part of Ghana. It is also easy enough to make if you have the right ingredients. Barely a couple of weeks ago an old school friend, a white British to boot, told me waakye is now one of his favourite African meals. He was keen to make it so I gave him what I believe is the most important waakye ingredient. millet stalk. Millet stalk is what gives waakye its characteristic reddish colour. I had to scour east London for a while to get my hands on some imported ones from a Ghanaian grocery at the Ridley road market, Dalson. He was very grateful and so he should be as it cost an arm and a leg.
Anyway, today happened to be the last of the waakye. The chicken stew and shito it came with was barely enough for a full meal.
This is where necessity all of a sudden becomes the mother of invention. Poignant and somewhat significant given today, the 6th of March, happens to be Mothers’ day and Mother Ghana’s Independence day.
I dedicate this post to all Mothers. The 2 hrs 30 mins video below is dedicated to a man birthed by a Mother whose destiny was to become the founding father of Mother Ghana – Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
One of my favourite Kwame Nkrumah’s quotes is:
We face neither East nor West. We face forward!
In that spirit a bag of spinach in my fridge (cocoyam leaves) or kontomire as Ghanaians call it, began before my very eyes, to take on a whole new significance. Surely there must be something that could give the last of the waakye a bit more oomph! Without looking neither East nor West I hurriedly sautéed the spinach, boiled a couple of eggs, added a few slices of avocado and sprinkled the most African of spices, sesame seeds, added the last of the stew and shito and voila a rather interesting meal had been birthed!
It had everything. flavour, colour, character, uniqueness and plenty of that oomph I wanted. A meal with characteristics not dissimilar to what every Mother wishes for their children. A meal made by a Ghanaian in Ghana for Mother Ghana on Her and every other Mothers’ special day.