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Eating Red Red in Ghana

Red Red is my favorite meal in Ghana, without a doubt.

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Red Red

At its base, red red is a bean dish made from black-eyed peas moistened with palm oil and served with fried plantain cut along the bias (on a slant). The name of the dish is derived from the red color of the palm oil used to moisten the stew and fry the plantains.

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Plantains frying on a charcoal stove.

My favorite chop bar for red red is in Accra’s Osu neighborhood not far from where I work. The unnamed chop bar (called the ‘Red Red Chop Bar’ going forward for clarity) serves only red red and is located five minutes walking from Koala, a popular supermarket and area landmark, on Oxford Street. Last time I visited, I asked the chop bar’s attendants if they had a name in mind for the chop bar. They shrugged their shoulders and replied, “No, we don’t have a name, oh.”

This is common. Many of the best chop bars in town don’t have a name and don’t need a name. News spreads by word-of-mouth through Accra like a wild fire during the dry season.

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The Red Red Chop Bar in Accra’s Osu neighborhood.

Directions: After the Total Station on Oxford Street take a left. Then take your first left. Continue walking straight an take a left after passing Trashy Bags on your left. Go straight. The Red Red Chop Bar will be on your left. If you pass the Peace Palace you have gone too far.

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If you pass the Peace Palace you have gone too far.

The chop bar is the sister bar of another chop bar, also unnamed, in the tangle of streets behind Koala. The beans are made here and then transported to their sister bar. Here you can see the women cooking the beans in large aluminium bowls on top of charcoal stoves.

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Bean stew boiling over a wood fire.

The Red Red Chop Bar serves red red from 8:00 am until about 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. Whenever I go around lunch (10:00 am to 2:00 pm) the bar is always busy with people crowding around the order window. In Ghana, people do not queue (generally speaking). This can be confusing but the chop bar attendant always decides who she serves next (usually in the order of arrival).

At Red Red Chop Bar, the beans may be served with garri (mixed with the beans or on the side) and white oil or red oil. Garri, made from casava, adds texture to the stew. Red oil is palm oil; white oil is vegetable oil infused with peppe and other spices.

When ordering at a chop bar, the amount of money quoted corresponds to the size of the portion. My standard order at Red Red Chop Bar is one cedi beans with garri and small white oil served in a leaf and one cedi fried plantain.

Everything tastes better in a banana leaf.

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Eating red red from a banana leaf.

Next week I will be traveling along Ghana’s west coast. I have an article scheduled to post next week while I’m away. My first write-up about the trip will post on Monday, January 26th when I am back in Accra. In the meantime, follow me on Facebook and Instagram for live updates!

4 Responses to Eating Red Red in Ghana

  1. Henry Brinker January 16, 2015 at 2:42 am #

    When you get to Brazil try moqueca. It is a delicious bright red fish stew also made with dende oil. Brazilian cooking has a lot of roots in west Africa.

    • clara.ranzetta@gmail.com January 16, 2015 at 8:25 am #

      I’ll keep it in mind! I don’t eat a lot of fish but next week I am looking forward to trying a few different fish plates during a trip along the coast. I’m planning to help a village pull in their catch for the day and buy the fish fresh!

      • Francis January 26, 2015 at 10:57 am #

        How are you doing? Like the nature of your report…lol.
        Have you tried tuo zaafi with green green soup???
        You might love it!

        • clara.ranzetta@gmail.com January 28, 2015 at 11:35 am #

          Hello, thanks for your comment! I haven’t tried (or even seen) tuo zaafi with green green soup but now I’m intrigued. What region in Ghana does the dish originate from? And what makes the soup green? Do you have any suggestions for places to go in Accra to eat the dish?

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