Ode to Yaaba with Chef Adwoa Kittoe

For our A NIGHT IN series, Chef Adwoa Kittoe takes us on a journey with her on a trip to Ghana into three mouthwatering courses, Ode to Yaaba, a transliteration of an ancestral past. Her three-course menu showcases her classic twist to Ghanaian dishes featuring delicate dawadawa dashi, savory jollof omo tuo, and golden fried bofrot.

Ode to Yaaba with Chef Adwoa Kittoe

Photo Cred: Chef Adwoa Kittoe

From experimentation to the professional kitchen

Chef, writer, food stylist, and recipe developer, Chef Kittoe, created a private catering service, Seulful Pantry.

The original concept of the business was born from the desire to help create healthy, affordable meals for her community.

Chef Kittoe’s career in the culinary arts sprouted from the love of cooking. She found a calling to work with, developing accessible healthy meal plans for her community work. Seulful Pantry came about through experimenting with friends and creating fun plant-based meals. She discovered her passion for the culinary arts at a young age because of experimentation. Through observation of final dishes on the Food Network, Chef Kittoe was able to replicate dishes at 14. Now, she caters plant-based West African cuisine to the tri-state area.

Eating with your hands

Chef Kittoe imagined the “Ode to Yaaba,” her fusion presentation on classic Ghanaian dishes for her special A NIGHT IN series. Her meals share her homecoming to Ghana:

“I've lived in Brooklyn my entire life. The menu represents a journey on my recent trip to Ghana.”

The first course, dawadawa dashi, pays homage to the Volta River, the primary river system in Ghana. This seafood dish blends flavors often found in coastal Ghana with Japanese dashi broth to produce a delightful combination.

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

Ode to Yaaba with Chef Adwoa Kittoe

The second course, Swanzy Yard, is the palace where Kittoe grew up. During her recent travels, her grandmother taught her the proper way to make jollof rice – this dish is a reinterpretation of her grandmother’s cooking, but ultimately what Jollof rice represents to her – home. Kittoe invites guests to eat Jollof rice with their hands to capture all the flavors.

“You will be tempted to use a knife and fork, but put them away because I want you to scoop them with your hands and the sauce and eat them. These are the utensils you are given from birthright: your hands.”

For the last course, the Dancing Road, diners had bofrot – or puff puff – a Ghanaian dessert eaten almost every morning in Ghana. She named this dish after her childhood memory of driving to get puff puff. As the roads were uneven, she recalls her whole family “dancing” in the car as they went to get the dessert.

Ode to Yaaba was Chef Kittoe’s attempt to keep diners on their toes – fusing unknown flavors and ingredients to create a mystical new transformed meal. Her dishes, from classic Ghanaian dishes, are recreated into new blended recipes from her imagination. Whether using flavors from Japan or Italy, she hopes to present diners with contemporary culinary techniques with the comfort of a Ghanaian meal.

Ode to Yaaba with Chef Adwoa Kittoe
Ode to Yaaba with Chef Adwoa Kittoe

The future of Ghanaian cuisine

Chef Kittoe hopes to be part of the Ghanaian food scene, opening a West African restaurant in Ghana, and shedding light on the already extensive food ecosystem.

“I want to be a part of the lineup already there. I want to show Ghanaian people that their food is expandable and there's so much we can do with it, from the produce and all the flavors. There is so much that the rest of the world should be inspired by from our spices, food, and culture.”

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