Sunday, 17 October 2010

A vegan Ponkie – Ghanaian Pumpkin

No, this is not a derogatory term to describe my vegan friends, this is my interpretation of a Ghanaian dish known as Ponkie.

So what is Ponkie? Ponkie is the Ghanaian word for pumpkin. The dish is traditionally made with beef. I substituted the beef with textured vegetable (TVP) protein also known as soya mince.

I know the name will set of little ones in fits of giggles and maybe some grown ups too. I chose to make it for two reasons, pumpkins are everywhere at the moment. I’d like to say pumpkins are everywhere because it the season, but the other than the butternut squash, once Halloween is over, you’ll be lucky to find a pumpkin here. Therefore, I recommend you make the most of it now, even if it is for soup. The other reason this recipe appealed were the ingredients, some of which reminded me of a kind of vegetarian chilli bean dish but without the kidney beans.
In my previous job, I had a good Ghanaian friend HA. He had these cat like whisker scars on his face. When I first met him I was fascinated by them and thought I’ll ask him the significance later, but as time passed. I no longer saw the scars on his face, it was just another feature, so never got round to knowing the reason. I’m guessing it had spiritual meaning as well as being a tribal mark to identify the family. I’d ask him, but he moved away and we lost contact. Anyway, I digress I think he would be disappointed at me for subbing the beef with TVP (textured vegetable protein) aka soya granules. HA is like my brothers, he loves eating his meat. Whenever we lunched together, he would often add ‘I could never be vegetarian. I so love my meat’. I wonder though if I could tempt him with this version of Ponkie. I wonder what he would say?!

This is a dry dish, similar to the okra salan. Traditionally ponkie is served with boiled yam and flat bread. It also goes well with other grains such as rice, couscous and even tortilla wraps, just please don’t tell HA. I think he will roll his eyes even more.
Ponkie: Ghanaian pumpkin
Serves 4 - 6
4 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 – 2 fresh red chilli, minced or 1 - 2 Teaspoon Chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt to taste
250g TVP or soya mince dehydrated
1 green pepper, chopped
400g tin of tomatoes, chopped
400g Pumpkin or Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 Aubergine, diced
Heat oil in pan and saute the onion until soft and translucent, then add in the spices and chilli, cook for a couple of minutes for the spices to combine. Add in the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes or so before adding in the soya mince, pepper and pumpkin pieces. Cook for 10 minutes before adding in the aubergine. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. This particular recipe is adapted from Oxfam Fairworld Cookbook which acknowledges the original coming from Ola Olaore s book Traditional African Cookery.


  1. Mmm this sounds super tasty! I am starting to really like pumpkin, it is something I never used to think about eating but I do really like it. Thanks so much for your lovely comment on my blog. xo

    ps I am now a follower of your delightful blog.

  2. I didn't know what a Ponkie was, what a great name!! I feel like making a Ponkie Pie! :-)

    It is not easy to find TVP in NZ, I used it more when i was living in the UK. Once I got it in Italy, in chunks, and made a stew. My father ate it (he was also one of those who 'loved' his meat) and asked me "What kind of meat is this?" I told him, and then I asked his if he liked it. He said "It's disgusting!", but he also cleaned the plate!! :-)

    Good recipe, perfect for Autumn!

  3. This looks delicious! I've never used TVP but I have heard it's rather like meat. I say feed it to HA and see what he thinks it is. ;)

  4. That looks so tasty! Thanks for the recipe and the interesting story/facts about ponkie and your Ghanaian friend. I enjoyed reading it.

  5. This reminds me of a stew, which I love making this time of year. I have yet to cook with pumpkin ( other than the canned stuff but I doubt that counts ). Coriander also adds a lovely taste to any dish. I would love to try this recipe

  6. Wow, this looks delicious! No matter how one pronounces it the dish would be wonderful. Seems like a perfect fall dish.

  7. Wow this looks amazing and I love the story of your friend!

  8. Psst - EVOO is just shorthand for 'extra virgin olive oil'. I'm so lazy, I know. I blame Rachael Ray for popularizing the term. ;)

  9. Thanks for the post on my blog about the owl bags. Message me I have an offer for you :) ducatirocketgirl at yahoo dot com

    Love the blog by the way. I'll be following you now!!!!

  10. Thank you so, so much Sophie.
    To have humbled me by becoming a follower. Thank you.

    Glad your beginning to enjoy pumpkin, its pretty versatile too - sweet and savoury.

    Thank you Alessandra.
    So delighted to read that I've kinda inspired you to make your own Ponkie Pie! :-)

    Funny to read about your Fathers response to the TVP. Made me smile. I have to admit I have not eaten the chunky variety of TVP. If you wish, I would be happy to post you over some TVP. Let me know via my e mail. No obligation.

    Thank you Mo.
    When I first had TVP, I honestly thought someone was feeding me meat, its not so much the taste, but the texture. I did not believe her at all and insisted on seeing the package the TVP came out of. It was this that then intro'd me to the ingredient. My husband appreciates the texture more than me.

    Thank you so much Rose.
    Glad you enjoyed reading about the 'ponkie' and my dear Ghanaian friend.

    Thanks Louise. I wish I could hear him say YUM YUM!!! Woudl make me laugh out loud.

  11. Thank you Jacklyn.
    The canned stuff is hard to get here, and when you can it is so expensive. So I have always used fresh. So agree about coriander. I love the stuff.

    Thank you Dee.
    It is always lovely to hear from you. YOur right, it is perfect for the fall, or Autumn as we call it in the U.K :)

    Thank you so much Dawn.

    Oh thanks Mo.
    Now you tell me, its so obvious. The term I am sure will become popular in the U.K at some point.

  12. Hello,
    I found your blog while doing some browsing for historical information on the Cardross area.
    I'm hoping I can pick at your brain and if I say I live near the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY maybe that would boost your interest?!

    I love the looks of that pumpkin recipe. What a great combination of pumpkin (a favorite) and those amazing spices!
    I'm trying to find someone in the Cardross/Dumbarton area who has some interest and knowledge of the history of the area, as I'm writing fiction set in 1830s Glasgow and Cardross. Have a few questions about the lay of the land, what a typical home would be like, and more.
    Do you know of anyone? I've had no luck finding a historical society. I will check back in for your response or an email from you if possible.
    thank you!

    debraemarvin (at) yahoo . com

  13. Thanks Colorslut.
    E mailing you right now.

    Hello there Debra.
    No need to bribe me, I would have read your comment whether or not you said you live near Moosewood Restaurant :) I am happy to help if I can.

    I don't know anyone top of my head who can help. I can only advise that you contact the site Manager for the property based in Cardross - Geilston Gardens (a National Trust for Scotland property) which we frequented a lot during Spring/Summer. If anyone can advise you of Cardross heritage and of a name to contact, I am sure they will be able too.

    My entries below are all linked to Cardross and show some images. Its a conservation village these days.


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