Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Shitto (a Gharaian chilli and fish paste) with rice, chopped basil, orange zest, ground cardamom and raisins.

I bought this shitto pre-made from an African food store last week. I was very lucky to get my hands on a small jar, packed personally by the woman at Mokola African Market. It smells of fishy, oily and richly spicy goodness and the taste is beautifully intense. I would liken it to belachan (a South-East Asian shrimp paste) or tom yum without the sour. Making shitto involves a long process of drying and grounding fish and cooking slowly in oil with ingredients such as cayenne pepper, tomato and garlic. Make it incorrectly and the fish rots, but make it with care and it keeps for months in an airtight container in the fridge. For this, I admire that Ghanaians eat this every day as a household condiment.

I wanted to learn about African food and what a fascinating way to experience it.

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