Kenkey is a sourdough-like dumpling dish native to Ghana.
Made with fermented maize dough, the dish is a staple in Ghanaian homes and gives a delightful nod to African history.
The History of Kenkey
There are two types of kenkey depending on the region it originates from.
The Ga kenkey is popular with the people of Ewe, Akan, and the Greater Accra region, while the Fante kenkey is mostly produced in the central and western regions of Ghana.
Interesting Facts about Kenkey
In Ghana, the production and selling of Kenkey were mainly handled by women.
Many family businesses operated at home and women were at the face of the operations, perfecting their Kenkey recipes on the go!
How is Kenkey prepared?
The preparation of Kenkey is unique, as it takes a few days to be ready.
It begins by steeping maize grains in water for four to seven days, after which it is taken to a mill and then kneaded with water into a dough.
Another option is to mix cornmeal, cornstarch, and water into a dough of smooth consistency.
After the dough is ready, it is covered and allowed to ferment freely in a warm place for up to a week.
After the fermentation process is complete, the kenkey is partially cooked.
It is then gently but tightly, wrapped in corn husks, plantain leaves, or foil, and steamed for two to three hours or until fully cooked.
Once ready, it is usually served with a side of fried fish or meat, soups, or stews, although locals prefer to enjoy it with a traditional spicy pepper sauce called “shito”.
A 100 g serving of Ga Kenkey contains 400 calories and the following nutrients:
However, a standard serving of Kenkey is 400g, so keep the proportions in mind before taking a bite!
- It is vitamin rich, with a high content of vitamins A, C, E, K, and an array of vitamin B varieties such as pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, and folates.
Carries Essential Minerals
- It carries essential minerals like phosphorus, manganese, zinc, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and iron.
Protects Body from Oxidative Stress
- It is rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that protect the body from oxidative stress, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Decreases risk of cardiovascular disease
- It decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and lowers blood pressure by reducing blood cholesterol levels.
- The fermented contents in the meal support the digestive system with probiotic activity and lead to a stronger gut.
How long can kenkey be stored?
Kenkey can safely be refrigerated for up to a month.
When it’s time to reheat, you may boil it in some water until soft, or cut it in half and heat it in the microwave until warm.
Does kenkey make you gain fat?
Kenkey has a high fibrous carbohydrate content, with low protein, low fat, and high fiber content. One ball of a Ga Kenkey equals 400g and has around 1,440 calories!
That makes up most of the 2000-calorie recommended daily requirement for the average person.
But it does not do much to store fat. If eaten right, it can give you a nutrient-packed punch!
Its high fiber content helps your stomach stay full. Just make sure the sauce does not contain much oil.
When eaten in moderation, a serving of Kenkey helps you feel full long after you are done eating. This can be extra helpful if you are trying to maintain or lose some extra pounds.
Some favorite pairings with Kenkey include green beans, vegetable salad, and hot soup. These add an extra boost of fiber and keep you full for longer.
A recommended favorite:
Green beans and kenkey!
The potassium in the corn used to make kenkey is an important electrolyte mineral needed for proper heart function, muscle contraction, and bone health.
If you lose too much sweat during exercise or a hot day, a humble serving of kenkey with beans can have you right back up on your feet.
How can you eat kenkey in a balanced way?
As with other carbohydrate staples, portion control can help you gain control of the food you are consuming.
Adding fish or fatty meat to a ball of kenkey brings another few hundred calories to the table.
By cutting the Kenkey into a smaller size and reducing the oil content in the accompanying meals, you can easily reduce the calories per portion of the meal and enjoy it in moderation.
Kenkey is so popular that each year there is an annual Kenkey Festival in Accra where you can experience eating kenkey in a variety of flavors and delicious sides e.g. fries, stews, and even salads!