Tomatoes, chilies, and lemongrass await, presents from my tiny garden patch, and ripening fruits clutter my kitchen counters now that I’ve settled into the warm season and its routines, market excursions, and farm visits.
When the warmest August days finally come, I’m torn between two seemingly irreconcilable needs: I want to use up all of the food in my fridge, but I also want to avoid turning on the stove as much as possible.
In this case, the iconic Ghanaian street food known as kosua ne meko, which consists of a hard-boiled egg cracked slightly along the centre and packed with a thick tomato relish.
In Prospect Park, Brooklyn, I first saw these colourfully attired eggs while basking in the warm, shade-speckled light of a huge tree. My friends and I were finally able to coordinate our schedules so that we could all have a picnic together with our significant others and our children. In our eagerness to catch up, we piled our plates high with munchies, among them these eggs. Their firm, circular whites contrasted well with the jewel tones of their juicily crimson and purple garnish. The soft-boiled egg yolk balanced the sweet acidity of the summer tomatoes perfectly. Raw red onions added a satisfying crunch, while Scotch bonnet peppers added a pleasant tingling to each successive mouthful.
Kosua ne meko is a simple dish that can be whipped up in no time and served to a large group at the beach, a cocktail party, or a potluck breakfast, making it a great way to use up the tomatoes I have growing on my counter. With only a little container of cooked eggs and an even smaller container for the relish, I can provide enough food for practically any company. However, I can also pack them in advance by arranging them in a single layer over a Tupperware container.
Even seasoned chefs may be daunted by the prospect of attempting to make kosua ne meko or any other outstanding meal that is technically classified as street cuisine.
Ms. Gilbert says that the Ghanaian merchants have mastered the art of maximising flavour from every source, down to curing the eggs by dredging the cooked eggs in dampened salt the day before. When displayed on stands by vendors, the shells take on an almost crystalline lustre as they wait for customers to walk by.
The flavour of the relish, sometimes referred to as “raw pepper,” varies greatly from one batch to the next and from one kind of chilli to the next. Tomatoes, red onions, a chilli, and salt make up the typical raw pepper.
While they are the same as Ms. Gilbert’s version, this one also includes ginger and garlic. A simple salting of the eggs before or after adding the relish, depending on your preference, might allude to the salt-dredging skills of Ghanaian merchants.