These little peanut-based snacks come straight from Ghana and are addictive. They are an excellent alternative to chips and salted peanuts to nibble on with an aperitif. Kuli-kuli are ubiquitous snacks in Ghana and are popular in all the neighboring countries in West Africa.
What is kuli-kuli?
Salty, spicy and very crunchy, kuli-kuli is a snack that is widespread in West Africa. It is made exclusively with peanut, but its preparation requires some special tricks.
Kuli-kuli are traditionally in the form of small sticks, rings or small pieces of dough. These are the three main forms most prevalent in Africa, but there are also others.
The accompaniments of kuli-kuli
They are eaten by themselves or served with a mixture of garri (or gari), sugar and water. Garri is a cassava flour that is very common in West Africa. It enters into the composition of many traditional dishes.
In Ghana, the quality of the garri is assessed by the aroma and size of the grain. The sweetest varieties are the most popular. The other varieties of garri are on the contrary more bitter and come in the form of coarse grains. But the experts mainly evaluate the freshness of the garri by the consistency of the grains: indeed, it is their crispy side that is synonymous with guarantee of freshness.
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Kuli-kuli is also eaten with koko or fura.
Fura is a typical thick Ghanaian drink made from millet flour. To prepare fura, small balls of millet flour are made. Many spices are added. Like many dishes in Ghana, fresh ginger is part of the fura. Then, the balls are cooked in hot water before blending them with sugar milk.
Koko is a spicy porridge made from fermented corn flour. A version of this porridge also exists under the name of hausa koko and is prepared from millet flour. This version is gluten-free.
Sometimes kuli-kuli are crushed just before they are added to a salad. They add a lot of taste and crunch in seasoning.
Kuli-kuli are also used for suya, spicy meat skewers popular in West Africa and known as chinchinga or tsitsinga in Ghana.
They are usually prepared with beef, goat, or chicken. Offals such as kidneys, liver and tripe are also used. Kuli-kuli, in the form of uncooked dough, is added to the meat marinade in addition to salt, vegetable oil and other spices. It brings a lot of flavor thanks to its concentration of peanuts and make the particularity of these spicy skewers. Also, there is a variation of these spicy skewers called kilishi. These are skewers of dried meat that come in the form of very thin pieces.
In West Africa, two main varieties of garri are distinguished: the white garri and the yellow gari (its yellow color is due to the introduction of a palm oil in its composition).
How to make kuli-kuli
Kuli-kuli is made by mixing peanuts in a blender for a few minutes. This peanut paste is called labu. A lot of local spices and fresh ginger are added.
The quality of the ingredients is paramount in the kuli-kuli recipe. Make sure to choose roasted peanuts to obtain a quality labu.
In addition, the preparation steps must be followed to the letter, such as the step of removing all the oil from the peanut paste using a paper towel or towel.
Tip # 1: You absolutely must drain most of the oil from the peanut paste before shaping the kuli-kuli. This step is essential and is responsible for the crunchy side of kuli-kuli. The peanut paste must become almost hard and release little oil. Sometimes two tablespoons of water are added just before shaping the small sticks. If you take this step lightly, you may miss the recipe: kuli-kuli will be too soft and dissolve as soon as it is introduced into the cooking oil. The oil then becomes black and the disintegrated peanuts will fall to the bottom of the pan.
Tip # 2: Absolutely use peanut oil and not rapeseed oil or other vegetable oils. Do not overheat the oil. The smoke points vary from one to another but the results are not guaranteed with other oils.
We hope this recipe will pique your curiosity and whet your appetite.
- 8 oz. peanuts , salted and dry roasted
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground chili pepper
- Peanut oil (for frying)
- Grind the peanuts and ginger until smooth.
- Add the ground chili pepper and mix well.
- Squeeze the peanut paste to remove as much oil as possible. This step is very important to obtain a very crisp kuli kuli.
- Divide the dough into about twenty pieces and give the kuli kuli their shape: either in a stick, in a small crown, or in balls.
- Add 2 tablespoons of water to the dough if it does not work easily.
- Heat a large volume of peanut oil in a deep pan.
- Fry the kuli kuli over medium heat until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels.
- Enjoy hot or cold
It is possible to add a few slices of onion or cloves in the oil while frying to give an extra flavor.