By Soyoqour Quarcoo Tchire
Kpokpoi (also referred to as Kpekple) is a traditional meal of the Ga people during the celebration of Homowo, which means to hoot at hunger. It is prepared with the primary ingredients of steamed and fermented corn, palm nut soup and smoked fish. The preparation of Kpokpoi, although lengthy because of the quantities prepared, is actually rather simple and you can easily cook it at home. Traditional kitchen appliances used during the preparation of Kpokpoi are the wooden mortar and pestle for pounding the steamed corn, dads3n (metal cauldron), about a yard of netting or regular ‘mosquito’ net, clay pot steamer and the wooden sieve. There are alternatives if you don’t have these appliances. Let’s get ready to learn more.
So, here we are in the kitchen with the simple and few ingredients for making Kpokpoi; ground corn/maize, palm-oil, onions, salt and okra which are optional. Let’s start first with how the corn is prepared. Remove any bad grain, garden debris and stones from maize. Soak corn overnight by filling the container until water covers the top of the grains. Wash in clean water and drain water. Take to the mill and grind into smooth flour. Once it’s milled press it hard, sprinkle water on it and leave it overnight for it to ferment slightly. Some use it immediately. Pour the corn flour into a bowl and flake with your hands to make flour smooth. You can also sieve the milled corn on an Agbadze.
It’s now time to steam it. Fill a metal cauldron or dads3n with water to about halfway and place the clay pot steamer or any utensil that has little bits of holes in them that steam can pass through. When the water starts boiling, spread the mosquito net or cheese cloth in the steamer and pour in the milled corn to cover every corner of the steamer and cover the top with the loose ends of the net and some more mosquito nets. Leave to steam for about ten minutes. While on the fire steaming, heat your palm oil. Palm oil renders the yellowish-orangey color to Kpokpoi and we flavor it with onions, shrimp or dried fish. Go with whichever you have available. We will use onions. Add chopped onions to the hot palm oil and allow to caramelize to flavour the oil. Also prepare salt water which will be sprinkled onto the steam corn flour before pounding and set aside. Check on the steaming corn flour. You will know it is cooked if it has a slightly thickened texture. Once you see this, pour out into your mortar and sprinkle a little bit of salt and a bit of palm oil onto it and start pounding. The amount of palm oil will depend on how you like your Kpokpoi to look. You can also add the palm oil which rises from the palm-nut soup as your colorant. This renders a stronger flavour as well. Pound the palmy cornmeal until the oil is well-incorporated into the corn. It takes less than 5mins to pound if it’s not much corn. Pour out into a bowl. You can choose to add cooked and pounded okra at this stage as a thickener but it’s very optional. Sieve the pounded kpokpoi using the wooden sieve or agbaadze. This makes it finer and separates the rough clumps from the others. The clumps can also be pounded again and further sieving done to extract finer grains. Serve with your already cooked palm-nut soup. Don’t forget to leave some to dry toast the next day. That’s the best part isn’t it? Even if you don’t feel dexterous enough to cook this at home, I hope you have picked some insights into the preparation of Kpokpoi.