Chef Adjoa Kittoe translates her trip to Ghana into 3 incredible courses

For our A NIGHT IN pop-up series, Chef Adjoa Kittoe‘s three-course menu showcased her modern take on classic Ghanaian dishes.

Ode to Yaaba with Ghanaian Chef Adjoa Kittoe

Photo Cred: Chef Adjoa Kittoe

From experimentation to the professional kitchen

Chef, writer, food stylist, and recipe developer, Chef Adjoa Kittoe is a woman of many talents. 

Originally an operations professional, her career in culinary arts sprouted from her desire to serve her community with healthy and affordable meals. She began experimenting with culturally-relevant and flavorful plant-forward recipes. This work eventually became Seulful Pantry, her NYC/NJ-based plant-forward private chef and catering service. 

Modern takes on classic Ghanaian dishes

For our A NIGHT IN pop-up series, Chef Adjoa reimagined her recent trip to Ghana in three-courses. Entitled “Ode to Yaaba, a transliteration of ancestral repast,” this pop-up menu showcased her modern spin on classic Ghanaian dishes.

“I was born in Ghana and have lived in Brooklyn my entire life. The menu represents a journey through my recent trip to Ghana.”

The first course, named Volta River after the primary river system in Ghana, featured jumbo crab seasoned with shito oil and placed in a dawadawa broth. This dish paired seafood flavors common in coastal Ghana with a Japanese-style dashi broth to produce a delightful combination.

“I wanted to reinvent dashi without miso. Similar to Japanese miso, we have dawadawa in West Africa, a fermented locust bean. The chocolate-y soy-ish taste gives it a miso flair.”

Dawadawa dashi with jumbo crab by Chef Adjoa Kittoe

Photo Cred: Adjoa Kittoe & Kwame Willliams

For her second course, Swanzy Yard, Chef Adjoa innovated on one of the most popular West African dishes: jollof rice.  Here, she crafted a jollof rice arancini served with pulled chicken and an egusi emulsion. 

While this modern take referenced Italian and other European traditions, this dish was decidedly African. Not only did the jollof rice came from her grandmother, but Chef Adjoa insisted that diners eat this course the traditional way — with their hands.

“You will be tempted to use a knife and fork, but put them away. I want you to scoop these arancini balls and the sauce with your hands. Your hands are the utensils you are given from birth."

Jollof Rice Arancini balls with egusi emulsion by Chef Adjoa Kittoe

Photo Cred: Adjoa Kittoe & Kwame Willliams

For the last course, Chef Adjoa served bofrot – or puff puff – a Ghanaian pastry she enjoyed nearly every morning during her trip. She named this dish “Dancing Road” after the bumpy route she took everyday to reach the market.  As the roads were uneven, she recalls her whole family “dancing” in the car on their way to scoop up the fluffy treat.

Bofrot/Puff-Puff by Chef Adjoa Kittoe

Photo Cred: Adjoa Kittoe & Kwame Willliams

The future of Ghanaian cuisine

With “Ode to Yaaba”, Chef Adjoa Kittoe kept diners on their toes, fusing seemingly disparate techniques and ingredients together to create a magical dining experience.

One day, Chef Adjoa hopes to join the burgeoning Ghanaian food scene, ideally opening a fine dining restaurant in Accra.

“I want to show Ghanaian people that our food is expandable and there's so much we can do with it. The rest of the world should be inspired by our spices, food, and culture.”

Hear Chef Adjoa Kittoe's Inspiration

Explore the sounds of "Ode to Yaaba"

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