From Ghanaian street food to Ethiopian restaurants, African food is here and make its mark bigger every year. The foodie revolution continues with inspirational cook and author Patti Gyapomaa Sloley.
This is good news for those of us who are tired of African food remaining in the dark, lagging behind Indian and Chinese food. Here we speak to Patti about her entrepreneurial ventures.
African Food Story
How did it start?
It began with my love for all the delicious dishes my mother cooked as I grew up. Food, like art, is an expression of one’s self and living away from home it was exciting to celebrate and share with friends, especially those who had never tasted our mouth-watering foods. Their “mmms” and “aaahs” and constant nagging for recipes told me I had to share them properly. With my passion to show off Africa, through its fabulous foods, amazing ingredients and spices, I embarked on my first book “A Plate in the Sun”.
Where are your family from?
Glorious Ghana! My late father was Ashanti and my mother is Fanti, hailing from two different ethnic groups. The Fantis have a reputation for being extraordinary cooks and my mother would agree and my father certainly didn’t argue!
What African country do you visit the most and why should other people visit that country?
Ghana, for obvious reasons, as I’m Ghanaian born and bred and have wonderful childhood memories growing up and also my family live there. My visits home always have my heart racing with excitement. The welcome…the laughter…the smells and sounds of Africa. Here in England people teasingly ask if I work for Ghana’s Ministry for Tourism as I’m constantly promoting Ghana as a holiday destination. We’ve got the perfect mix of sunshine, beautiful sandy beaches, even the African sky at night, with stars twinkling in the dark, our fashion and handicrafts, our art and music and then our flavoursome food! Ghana has to be one of Africa’s most friendly and hospitable nations. By all means I would encourage people to visit other parts of this amazing continent, but start with Ghana, it is Africa for beginners!
What food do you cook?
Food that shouts with flavour and feeds the soul! Africa enjoys outside influences right across the continent, making our foods endlessly exciting with a fusion mix. I love to cook comfort foods I grew up with, like heart-warming chicken peanut butter soup, vegetable stews with mutton, beef and fish. Spicy kebabs, “kofi brokeman” (grilled ripe plantain with peanuts), tatale and beans, all cooked with a modern twist…just to name a few. World travel and a year in America have all affected my style of cooking. I enjoy letting my creativity loose in the kitchen, injecting passion and coming up with my interpretation.
Where can I find your recipes?
How do I get to buy the book?
I share some of my recipes on my website www.pattismenu.com
My books, are available on Amazon:
In Ghana they are available at the Wild Gecko
How did you perfect the taste of recipes?
Cooking these dishes week in week out, month in month out and year after year, you begin to develop and understand your flavour combinations I have an army of children, friends and family members as my taste team and you get to know what works best. The great thing about food is that it evolves, so you are constantly developing.
What’s your favourite African dish?
For an absolute foodie this is a very difficult question, but I’ll try. I’m settling for the ‘queen’ of rice dishes, fragrant JOLLOF RICE, cooked with the arresting aroma of lamb breasts. Life in the culinary lane just doesn’t get better!!
As far as African drinks are concerned here’s my love list:
Fresh green coconuts, straight off the tree.
Bissap, a delicious juice drink made from dried hibiscus flowers and spices (Sorrel in the Caribbean)
Homemade drinks with ginger and lemongrass
Fresh pineapple, watermelon, citrus and exotic fruits, juiced and spiced up…I could go on and on…
Lager beer, chilled to perfection and enjoyed in the midday heat or as the sun goes down.
How did you come up with the brand name?
My friends chose my brand name for me, whenever I invited them over for a meal and asked what they would like to eat, their answer was always the same “Anything from Patti’s menu”!
What sort of obstacles have you come across whilst trying to realise your dream?
Trying to find a publisher was probably the most difficult to begin with, which obviously led me to self-publish. It amazed me that our tasty African food was missing from the book shelf and dining table, now it has arrived and is certainly the talk of the town. Whenever I’ve demonstrated at food festivals, the reception has been amazing. Everyone from young children to grandparents have enjoyed the taste experience! Our flavours speak for themselves!
Any African heroes?
My wonderful parents
Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president
Yaa Asantewaa (appointed Queen Mother in the Ashanti Empire. She led the Ashanti kingdom in their fight against British colonialism in the ‘War of the Golden Stool’ also known as the ‘Yaa Asantewaa War’).
Any chefs or cooks you look up to?
My mother has been the single most influential person for me when it comes to cooking. When it comes to chefs, I have the privilege of working as resident chef and Front of House for Jean-Christophe Novelli, he’s simply amazing. Then there’s the Senegalese chef Pierre Thiam, who is pretty impressive too.
Can you recommend any African cookbooks
Funny you should ask…A couple spring to mind ‘A Plate in the Sun’ and ‘A Date with Plantain’, dishes with a modern twist, if creative cooking is your thing.
Do you have a recipe we can share?
My ‘Crunchy Yam Balls’ coated in gari. Whether you’re meat-eating or vegan, here’s one that everyone can enjoy.
West Africa Cooks