Fortor in Ewe means to mash up or mix together. That’s exactly what Gari Fortor looks like. Mashed up sauce with gari (finely grated cassava). I tried finding out where the dish originated from and my Mom said something about it coming from the Ewes. So I asked a few Ewe friends on Twitter as well but nothing concrete came out.
— Edem Kumodzi (@edemkumodzi) April 9, 2015
I did however get to know that it’s a popular dish in the south of Togo so its very possible that the scent of the dish on fire wafted through the border into many homes in the Volta region and voila!
I hadn’t made gari fortor in a long while. Its just one of those dishes which isn’t regular in my home. Its not like Jollof which we can prepare at least once a week, four times a month. It has a low shelf-life thanks to the possibility of the gari losing its freshness. But I had stated my intention on Instagram so here I was standing in my dumsor-free kitchen preparing the dish which can look deceptively like jollof from a distance. Get closer and you will be disappointed.
Its an easy dish to prepare but therein lies the possibility to ‘blast’ if you miss some steps.
I made this to serve a maximum of three people but four hungry mouths were eventually fed at the end of the day.
1. 8 Fresh small-sized tomatoes
2. Slices of One Red Onion
3. Kpakposhito /ground red pepper
4. Chopped carrots
5. Chopped spring onions
6. Spices – Oregano & Curry
7. Pinch of salt
8. Luncheon meat/Canned Mackerel
9. 1 ½ cup of gari
10. 2 eggs
11. Quarter cup of cooking oil
12. A tablespoonful of tin tomato paste
13. Maggi cube (optional)
Making the Sauce
The sauce has to be on point for the dish to be great.
1. Add the sliced red onions to the heated oil and add a teaspoonful of curry. I always caramelize my onions. This means, the onions under medium-heat become transparent to the point of sweetness. Taste one and see. Thats my secret to a great sauce.
2. Add the tomatoes which you can choose to blend but I chopped up into cubes for more character.
3. Whoosh in a tablespoonful of the ground red pepper.
4. This is where I add my tin tomato paste as I’d rather have it cook with the tomatoes. Some choose to add it to the onion first before the fresh tomatoes.
5. Sprinkle in the oregano. I chose oregano due to its aromatic nature and how it gives my dish a ‘pizza’ taste.
6. Pour in a little water and cover for the sauce to cook.
7. Don’t be tweeting. Stay focused.
8. Stir occasionally to the bottom of the pan, reduce the heat if you can feel a growing stickiness to the bottom.
Can you 'hear' the scent of my sauce for gari fotor? (Twi/GA Translate) pic.twitter.com/GoPxEdYlLQ
— OyooQuartey #smmw15 (@OyooQuartey) April 8, 2015
9. Add the chopped carrots as the sauce nears cooking. This will ensure that the carrots still have a crunchy feel afterwards.
10. Add the spring onions
11. I chopped up the luncheon meat and added that as well to add more flavor to the sauce. Since it doesn’t require much cooking I saved it to the dying five minutes to the end of the cooking time.
I like tasting my sauce when its almost done not throughout the cooking. That’s when I can tell how much salt I have to put in.
12. Meanwhile the gari is lounging. The quantity of gari should be proportional to the quantity of sauce. Too much and the meal will look pale, too little and you might end up with something mushy
13. Sprinkle some water onto the gari to get it look a bit fluffy. Not too much oh! Less than a quarter depending on the quantity.
The sauce cooks in about 15 to 20 minutes.
14. Pour it into a dish.
5. Let the sauce cool down for about 10 minutes. If you add the gari immediately to the hot dish, you are likely to have something that would look like banku or Eba in sauce.
16. After the sauce had cooled, I started adding the gari to the sauce one handful at a time whilst stirring it through. So as to get a consistent texture and colour.
17. Break up any gari lumps.
18. Fry or boil your eggs. I fried mine. I had added a bit of black pepper to the egg mixture.
19. Done! Go eat.
I used my Grandma’s casserole dish. See how retro it is?
Some people add a bit of sauce to the meal. That’s fine too. Its interesting how just when I was about to sit down to enjoy my delicious handiwork than my Mom’s friend sends her daughter to bring us Banku and Okro stew (filled with wele, kotsa (beef entrails), crab and things. So I was forced to eat a little of both. Hihihihi!
If you have never tried making Gari Fortor on your own, now is your chance! How else do you prepare yours? Got a secret recipe? Do share!
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