THE love for spice among Malaysians, in all things gastronomic, is well known. It is, however, rivalled only by the Ghanaian enjoyment of chillies and the versatility of their dishes.
While our spicy dishes tend to have slight sweetness, traditional Ghanaian food is more savoury, says Aloft KL Sentral executive chef Phoebe Donko-Hanson.
Donko-Hanson, a native of Ghana – a nation on West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea, will introduce some of her favourite Ghanaian dishes this April in the Taste of Ghana promotion on the buffet spread at Nook.
During a recent preview, the standout dish for me was not the whole grilled fish or the braised lamb shank (although they were very tasty), but the humble shitor – a condiment featuring a combination of ground chilli, ginger, garlic and shrimp.
The taste may seem familiar, as they are the same ingredients used in our local sambal. But I preferred this interpretation as it did not have the sweetness of sambal but was more savoury.
We were treated to four different variations, including green peppers, red peppers and seasoned fried chilli oil.
A dollop of each chilli paste on a steaming portion of Jollof Rice (rice cooked with flavourful tomato and pepper purée) is all you need for a truly satisfying meal.
A personal favourite is the fried chilli oil, although the spiciness could have been amped up for added oomph.
For the main dishes, most of the ingredients used are common to Malaysian cuisine, but it was the unusual combinations that make them unique to the region.
Spinach Stew with Hard Boiled Eggs, Peanut Butter Chicken, Sauteed Okra and Gari Fotor (toasted tapioca flour in stew) are just some of the more interesting dishes.
The Peanut Butter Chicken is reminiscent of the Malay peanut-based satay sauce but is not as sweet and did not have the crunchy bits.
The surprise dish of the bunch is the Gari Fotor as it reminded me of a vegetarian version of the South Indian fish puttu, mostly because of the way it is cooked. Not a bad substitute for those wanting a vegetarian option of the puttu.
Other flavourful Ghanaian staples are Black Eyed Peas with Palm Oil, Jollof Rice with Seafood or Chicken, Rice and Beans, Palmnut Soup and Boiled Cocoyam.
A selection of meat highlights include the Spicy Grilled Snapper, Ginger Roasted Chicken, and Roast Beef.
The cuisine also has its own special curries with the spicy shrimp curry, mutton curry and tomato egg curry, offered on the buffet for curry lovers to indulge in.
The Kelewele, a gingery peppered plantain dish, and Chichinga, a Ghanaian version of kebab are worth your while so do get a taste of these.
The Taste of Ghana promotion will be available from April 1 to April 30 at RM120 nett per person. The dinner buffet starts from 6.30pm to 10.30pm daily.
NOOK, ALOFT KUALA LUMPUR SENTRAL, Level 1, No 5, Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2723 1154) Business hours: 6.30am to midnight.
This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.