By Regina Agana Akanteba
As part of the Heritage Month celebration, GBC News takes a look at one of Ghana’s delicacies, Tuo-Zaafi also known as TZ or Saakbo in Gruuni. TZ is a popular Northern Ghanaian dish that can now be found almost everywhere on the streets of Accra. Tuo Zaafi is normally eaten with any soup of choice, but the most common is Ayoyo or dry okra also known as ‘Kubewa Bu-shay-shay’. Our reporter Regina Agana Akanteba explores what makes Tuo Zaafi a popular staple meal nationwide.
Tuo Zaafi is a highly nutritious Ghanaian delicacy eaten with special vegetable leaves used in making the accompanying soup, including ‘ayoyo’,’Aleefi’, ‘Kuukar’, ‘Okra’ and ‘Shuray’ leaves. It is similar to Akple, eaten by the people of the Volta Region in Ghana, but TZ is quite soft and less sticky. The all-time favorite Northern Ghanaian dish also opens the door to a range of Ghanaian tastes and flavors such as ‘dawadawa’, broken pieces of smoked herrings, goat or cow meat and other natural spices used to prepare the meal.
The name Tuo Zaafi has its origins from the Hausa language. The word “Tuo” means stirring or paddling, while the word “Zaafi” means hot. The delicacy is not only common in Ghana but also cuts across some parts of West African countries like Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. There are different types of tuo zaafi depending on the flour used in making it but the most common in the southern part is corn flour. The other types include millet but besides these types, there are others that one either can add corn dough or cassava flour.
These days, restaurants have included it in their menu which shows how much this food or dish has been widely accepted by Ghanaians from various regions.The dish is usually eaten as dinner, yet some people like to have it for breakfast or lunch. In an interaction with some lovers of Tuo zaafi in Accra, this is what they had to say about the meal and made it their favourite.
”I love TZ especially when it is smooth and accompanied by ayoyo and its stew. When you pour the ayoyo and stew on the Tuozaafi, it is so nice.I encourage everyone to try some and you will enjoy it too”.
”I eat Tuo Zaafi almost all the time even though I’m an Akan. I enjoy the green leaves and its stew with all the assorted complements”.
” As for me, Tuozaafi is my all-time favourite meal because it is delicious. In fact, Tuozaafi is a life saver”, as lovers of the meal share their experiences.
Tuo zaafi or Saakbo is not only just delicious, but it comes with a lot of healthy nutrients that are good for the body. Akosua Konadu Yiadom is a Registered Nutritionist and a Public Health Advocate as well as a writer on Nutrition. According to her, Tuo zaafi isone of the best indigenous foods in the country. She says its intake increases the flow of blood in the body, lowers cholesterol absorption and regulates insulin thereby making it an excellent choice for diabetics and cholesterol patients. She also said the vegetable leaves soup and the meat stew make the meal a completely balanced diet which also acts as antioxidants to keep the skin hydrated to reduce wrinkles, however, one would ask how then is the mouth-watering dish prepared? Hajia Fulera is the owner of Special TZ at Nima in Accra and she takes us through the simplest way to make TZ.
”To prepare Tuo Zaafi, mix the flour with water to get an even mixture then pour it in boiling water and stir till it becomes like porridge. Cover it and allow it to cook for a few minutes before fetching some aside. Add some flour to the one on fire and stir till it becomes sticky before you start to add the one you set aside in bits. Continue the process till it is smooth and a bit hard. Stir for some few minutes and you have your TZ!”.
As for the Ayoyo soup, put a little water on the fire and add a little salt petre. Wait until the water boils before adding the ayoyo. Allow it to cook for a few minutes before you either blend or use the special broom for the preparation of the soup and stir. Afterward, add dawadawa, broken smoked herrings and any natural spice to add flavor, leave it to cook for a while and ensure it becomes slimy but thick. You can eat with the TZ in this form or choose to add any stew of your choice which gives it a unique taste all together, according to the cooking experts.
Are you a Tuo Zaafi fan? If Yes! keep enjoying and promoting Ghana but if you are still not a tuo zaafi fan and have no medical reasons not to love this meal, I hope this stirred up your appetite to join the Tuo Zaafi group as we continue to celebrate Heritage Month. And hey, take note, Tuo Zaafi is best enjoyed when it is hot! and garnished with shea butter.