Tomato stew is to a Ghanaian, what Passata is to an Italian. The Ghana Tomato stew recipe calls for the use of both fresh Tomatoes, Tomato purée and spices. The mixture is cooked and fried in oil, till the oil separates from the Tomatoes.
The oil used mostly for this sauce is Sunflower oil. I've opted to use Groundnut oil for this recipe, however use whatever oil you can afford.
The sauce needs to fry dry, hence it calls for using more oil than usual. Once the stew is cooked, drain the excess oil off and use it other recipes. It's perfect for frying an Omelette (as it's spiced oil).
This classic sauce accompanies various dishes including boiled Yam, Kenkey, Banku, Waakye, Rice to mention but a few.
It's also the base for making the best Ghanaian Jollof rice, Gari Piñon, Gari Fortor, Spaghetti Egg or Cabbage stew etc.
In this recipe I've used Shallots instead of normal Onions, as they lend a sweeter taste to the stew. The Shallots from Ghana are much smaller, sweeter and they lend this stew its distinctive flavour. They're fiddly to peel, however they're worth the addition.
Most people add stock cubes to their Tomatoes stew, however I omitted it from this recipe and used Aniseed (Sukoni) instead. If you're using stock cubes, this recipe works perfectly with the Shrimp cube.
The best chilli to use for this sauce is locally known as 'Kpakpo shito'(Pettie Belle). The chilli adds a perfumery and distinct taste to the stew. It's not as hot as Habanero chillies. In the absence of the Pettie Belle chilli, I've used Habanero for this recipe. Adjust the chilli quantity to your taste preference.
You can use any type of fresh Tomatoes you prefer, however I prefer to use Plum Tomatoes.
Plum Tomatoes have less water content and allows for a quicker cooking time.
The best Tomatoes are the sun ripened types, which are readily available in Ghana. You can use Tin Tomatoes if you don't have access to fresh Tomatoes for this recipe.
This recipe requires extended cooking times for each addition, till the oil separates. It's imperative this method is followed for the perfect stew. The slow cooking of the Onion and Ginger mix, intensifies its flavours, which in turn infuses the Tomato purée.
The sweetness of the Onions will take away any metallic taste (that Tomato purée in a tin) usually has, away from the stew.
Please ensure you cook on a medium heat at all times and keep stirring to prevent the stew from burning.
When using Tomato purée, mix it with a little water and fry till it separates from the oil.
I find the stew is more flavoursome after 24hrs. This allows the flavours to infuse naturally.
You can change the flavour of the stew by adding fresh herbs like Oregano, Marjoram, Coriander, Parsley etc
Preparing and making this Tomato stew is time consuming and can be a messy affair.
It's best to double or triple the recipe measurements when making the Tomato stew to save you from the repeated hassle.
Once cooked, portion it into individual containers and freeze till when a recipe requires it.
700g of fresh Plum tomatoes
150g of Tomato purée
1 Habanero chilli or 10 Kpakpo Shito
1 tablespoonful of Aniseed (Sukoni)
30g of peeled and chopped Ginger
3 cloves of Garlic
4 large roughly chopped Shallots or 2 large Onions
30ml of Groundnut or Rapeseed oil
Half a teaspoon of ground Mace or Nutmeg
Half a teaspoon of mixed spice
3 bay leaves (optional)
2 shrimp stock cube (optional).
Salt to taste
Place your saucepan on a medium heat and add your preferred oil.
Add the Ginger, Shallots, Aniseed, Garlic and Chilli to a blender. Blend till you have a silky smooth consistency.
Add the blended Ginger mix to the oil and fry gently for 10 minutes or until you have a thick consistency and the oil separates from the mixture.
Mix 150ml of water to the Tomato purée and add to the Ginger mixture.
Fry the Tomato purée till the oil separates from the mixture. Ensure to stir to prevent the bottom of the pan from catching. This should take about 10-12 minutes.
Add the blended Plum tomatoes and fry gently for 25 - 30 minutes. Ensure you stir to prevent the bottom from catching.
Cook the stew till the oil separates. Ensure you cover the saucepan with its lid (to prevent the stew spitting all over your Kitchen surfaces).
Add the Nutmeg, Bay leaves, mixed spice and cook for 2 minutes.
Add salt to taste and cook for another 2 minutes.
Leave the stew to cool down completely and transfer it into a sealed bowl.
Leave the stew in the fridge at least for 24hrs. This will allow all the flavours to infuse for a tastier stew.
This stew can be used as a base for most dishes. Freeze the stew for no longer than a month. Use when a recipe requires a spicy Tomato sauce.
Tomato stew sprinkled with fresh Lemon Thyme for a refreshing flavour.
All photos and recipes are by the owner of this blog.
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