Ghana is a land of diversity, filled with different people of different ethnicity, who all have their unique languages, clothing and even foods they eat.
In the last couple of decades, cultures have diversified in Ghana, exchanges between ethnic groups have taken place. For instance people of Southern Ghana, mostly the Akans, Gas and Ewes all now wear the Batakari clothing, a dress which is regarded as the traditional costume of people in the northern part of Ghana.
This culture exchange and diversification did not only happen in the area of clothing but also the foods we eat as a people. Today it is common to go into a Ga community and see households pounding fufu (a local dish of the Asantes and Akyems) to be eaten as their supper.
Another such food which has moved from being an ethnic based food to a national delicacy is the ever tasty Tuo Zaafi, popularly known as TZ in the southern part of Ghana. Tuo Zaafi, a relatively unknown northern delicacy has over the last decade grown in popularity in the Southern part of Ghana to become a national delicacy enjoyed by people in every part of Ghana.
The food which originated from the northern part of Ghana is traditionally prepared with millet dough with the final product looking very white. While the northern part of Ghana still stick to using millet dough to prepare the dish, the people in the southern part of Ghana have made some slight changes to the traditional way of preparing it, by adding maize and cassava though.
Tuo Zaafi is eaten with a special green vegetable stew or soup mainly containing the popular green bitter leaves as its core ingredient known as “Ayoyo”. Notwithstanding, Tuo Zaafi can equally be eaten with Okra soup and this is especially common in the South where consumers prefer the Okra soup over the green leaves soup.
Tuo Zaafi is now common in most chop bars in cities like Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi. If you are yet to taste this God-sent food, the next time you visit any ‘Chop Bar’ be sure to order for some and have a taste of the food stolen from the North and gifted to the entire nation. Ask your guide for popular Tuo Zaafi joints in town.
The attached Tuo Zaafi recipe is from Modern Ghana.
Tuo Zaafi and Ayoyo StewPrint Recipe
- 1 bunch Ayoyo leaves (Corchorus Olitorius)
- 1 tsp Dawadawa (African Locust bean)
- 1 tbs spoon powder Pepper
- 4 medium Onions
- Meat (enough)
- 4 pieces of dried fish
- 1 smoked salmon
- 4 medium Fresh tomatoes
- 1small tin tomatoes
- salt to taste
- water 6 tbs palm oil
- any spices preferred
- 4 cups of corn flour
- Wash Ayoyo leaves thoroughly and cut into tiny pieces and put water on fire in cooking pot. Add saltpeter when water boils and add cut Ayoyo leaves in the boiled water and stir periodically.
- Then beat the leaves with your ladle until it becomes slimy with bubbles. Bubbles will rise but continue to beat it until it settles to prevent loss of your healthy Ayoyo into the fire to create a mess in your kitchen.
- When it does not rise again, it means Ayoyo is cooked. Remove from fire and set it aside. Wash all the ingredients, and cut meat into pieces. Steam your meat well with chopped onions.
- Add pepper, tomatoes, salt and spices preferred. Stir to get the tomatoes cooked well. Add dawadawa and dried fish. Pour your palm oil into it and reduce the temperature of the fire.
- Let it stew for 10minutes and add the salmon. For the next 20- 30 minutes, leave it on the fire and allow it to cook and stir regularly. When ready, you can choose to pour the boiled Ayoyo into the stew and mix it up or serve them separately on top of the Tuo.
- For the TUO Zaafi, put water on fire to simmer about three quarters the size of your pot. Take one cup of the corn flour and mix with cold water and stir with your hand until you get a thoroughly mixed smooth and light solution. Add the corn flour solution to the boiling water and stir thoroughly with a wooden spatula to avoid crumps.
- Like a form of porridge, leave it to boil for 10minutes. Fetch some of the porridge (about 1/3) aside. Now add rest of the corn flour to the remaining porridge and stir non-stop.
- You must be very smart at this point to prevent your Tuo from developing into lumps.
- Add the flour bit by bit till hard enough to ‘paddle’. In fact the Tuo must be soft so add the porridge you fetched and put aside little by little and keep ‘paddling’.
- Within 20-30 minutes of stirring under constant heat, your Tuo Zaafi should be ready .Serve hot with the Ayoyo stew on top. Enjoy your home made TZ.