Jul. 15, 2016

Make Your Guests Feel at Home with an Authentic GH Dish

Welcome back!

I hope your week went according to plan and you are looking forward to a relaxing weekend! 


This week, I had an amazing string of surprises!  Two of my former class mates appeared in Ghana as if by magic for their summer holidays.  Both live in the US and I hadn’t heard from either of them for a while.  My other classmate from the UK had previously mentioned that he was coming for holidays so I was aware of that but it was still unbelievable to learn that all three were here in the country at the same time! 

Dorothy, my good old friend in school came here to visit on Tuesday (She is one of those living in the US).  I hadn’t seen her for over 10 years and we had so much to catch up on.  I have known Dorothy since secondary school days.  She always reminds me of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. 😀 She is very gentle and always considerate and kind and she has not changed one bit!  It was a great day and re-union and I am looking forward to seeing my 2 other classmates also soon.

Food wise:

What will you normally cook for family or a friend living abroad when they come home?  Dorothy wanted Ampesi, so Ampesi it was!  When you live abroad, you are restricted on choice of foods you can have from your home country.  You may be able to get a few provisions from your host country but it’s usually limited.  Chances are that you can cleverly improvise to make substitute “home foods” but they lack authenticity most of the time.  So even though you adore these “home foods” and your mind is conditioned to accept them as the real deal, all systems go when you finally travel home and you are able to eat the authentic dishes  - dishes as they should taste and smell. You suddenly realise that your “home foods” abroad don’t come close and cannot be compared with the real McCoy dishes in your home country.  If you are a Ghanaian living abroad, quality foodstuffs like Paya Nku (Avocado Pears), M)m)ne (perfumed salted fish), Pona Yam, Cocoyam and Zomi palm oil are hard to come by.  You may find varieties which are of lower quality and grade but not the same.

So What is this Ampesi Dish?

Ampesi is a specific dish.  It implies that you are making a two-part dish of a vegetable sauce on the one hand, and boiled Yam or Cocoyam on the other hand to accompany the sauce. The Ampesi sauce is typically made with palm oil (red oil from the palm fruit). Dorothy wanted Spinach Ampesi with boiled Yam and Cocoyam.  You can make Garden-egg and spinach Ampesi and serve it with boiled Yam and Cocoyam or even with boiled plantain. It’s a matter of choice!

AMPESI = vegetable sauce + boiled Yam, Cocoyam or Plantain.

To make this dish, this is what you have to do:

Difficulty and servings

Easy, generously serves 2

Preparation and Cooking times

Preparation time:  20 minutes: Cooking time:  40 minutes

To make the vegetable sauce,

You will need:

12 large Kontomire (Spinach) leaves, washed and chopped

200ml Palm Oil

1 large Onion, chopped

2-4 fresh Peppers, chopped

3-4 medium Tomatoes, chopped

100g Egushi (Melon seeds), blended into a paste (optional)

Small piece of M)m)ne, as desired (optional)

Smoked Fish/Fried fish, as desired (optional)

1 Stock cube 

 Salt to taste if needed

For the Yam and Cocoyam,

You will need:

1 small tuber of Yam, peeled, washed and cut into chunky pieces

200g of Cocoyam, peeled, washed and each cut into 2

300ml Water for boiling

Salt to taste                                         


  1. Arrange the Yam and Cocoyam neatly in a deep pan with a lid.  Add the water and salt. Cover and boil until cooked.  Remove from heat, drain and keep warm.
  2. On another burner, pour the palm oil Into a medium-sized deep pan and heat on medium heat until slightly smoking
  3.  Add the onions, peppers and tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.  Pour in the Egushi (Melon seeds) and let it simmer on low heat for about 2 minutes for the Egushi to begin to firm up. Add the M)m)ne and the smoked fish if using.  If using fried fish, set it aside and add to the dish when it’s ready.
  4. Cook for about 3 minutes and add the Kontomire.  Stir gently, adjust seasoning and cook until the sauce is reduced and all the ingredients are cooked when tasted.  Serve immediately with the warm boiled Yam and cocoyam and add the fried fish, if using.

Monica’s Tips:

This is a typical dish for family and friends gatherings and for people who have been away abroad.

As I mentioned earlier, the Ampesi sauce is often made with red palm oil but that is not to say that it cannot be made with other oils of choice.  However note that the taste will be different.  You can make a vegetarian version by leaving out all the fish products and making the recipe as is.  Note that any remaining sauce can be kept in the freezer in a covered container until needed.  Thaw, heat and serve with more boiled yam, cocoyam or plantain or with rice and Kenkey if you wish to vary.

 I would like to know how you get on when you make this Ampesi dish.  Please drop me a line with your pictures, if possible, through www.africaonyourplate.simplesite.com

Happy entertaining!

Monica Serwah Busia