The Fante kenkey (Mfantse Dokon) is basically kneaded corn dough cooked in dried plantain leaves.
It is not only popular in Fante communities, but has left its mark in many parts of the world. Preparation takes days but the finished product wins hearts, re-unites people and brings smiles on the faces of the people who trade in it.
In our Ghana Month series, Richard Kwadwo Nyarko travelled to some communities in the Central Region that are well-grounded in the preparation of the popular delicacy, Fante kenkey or ‘Mfantse dokon.’
At Amosima, Aba Tawiah sits in a circle with her colleagues preparing the dish. She explains how the Fante Kenkey is Prepared: "You get your corn, preferably the dry corn, soak it in water for a day and mill it. You knead the milled corn and keep it for a day. After this, you mix the uncooked portion with the cooked portions carefully considering the amount of water until you have a smooth texture. Balls are then formed from the dough and cooked in dry plantain leaves over a six-hour period.”
With special skills acquired and several decades of practice, Richard narrates it is unlikely for a kenkey maker in Amosima, Yamonransa, Abura, Oguaa and any Fante community to get the preparation of the Fante kenkey wrong.
Along the Yamoransa-Kumasi and Yamoransa-Accra highways, the community women, mostly middle-aged, sit behind packed balls of kenkey in blue polythene bags ready to sell to their customers.
They wave their hands as if they are stopping your vehicle but that’s a style they have adopted to attract your attention.
It is fascinating how they ran to the vehicles that stop along the road to patronise the kenkey — sometimes at the peril of their lives.
Aba Yaa, Mma Adiza, Auntie Aggie, Kuukuwa and comfort might just be names, but to the women who sell along the shoulders of the road, it is a branding tool and marketing strategy: a symbol of trust and a healthy relationship with their customers.
“We sell more during the weekends and sell less during the weekdays. Many people stop over here. I have many customers because they attest that my kenkey is the best,” Aba Yaa, one of the popular kenkey sellers at Yamoransa explains.
The expertise in making the Fante kenkey has endeared the kenkey sellers to many customers from both home and abroad.
Many vehicles stop by to buy Fante kenkey every minute.
“The kenkey is very sweet. I can’t come to Ghana without sending some of the kenkey to my base in the US,”John Ackah, a customer said happily.
Believe it or not, it is used in place of grease for tubeless tyres when they have a puncture to put them back on the road.
You might have heard ‘Amosima Dokon wodze s)w tyre’ (Kenkey made from Amosima) is used to mend tyres. And this is no Joke because Kweku Vulcanizer, a trained mechanic who has used the kenkey for this unconventional purpose, mending tyres says it works perfectly.
The Fante kenkey is best served with Mfantse Mfantse (Fresh fish stew), tilapia or fried fish and pepper and it is said this delicacy has helped many women here win the hearts of many men that have travelled to the coast.
In fact, you are likely to empty your bank account to the Fante woman who gives you a special delicacy like this.
Well, if you doubt me, why not try it. I will be waiting with a ball of kenkey.