Itsy-Bitsy Potatoes

One of my favorite things about going to market is that no matter how many years I’ve lived here I always seem to find something new and interesting.

On a recent market run, I found a small tuber for sale that the Mamprusi call peesa. I found it identified in the Mampruli Dictionary as Solenostemon Rotundifolius with the common English name of “frafra potato.” When I asked those in market if it was a “frafra potato” they all just laughed hysterically. Apparently, they don’t call it that here in Nalerigu and they found the idea of a potato that is Frafra to be humorous.

I did some research and it turns out that though this little edible tuber is primarily found in West Africa, it is also grown around the world – especially in Asia. And it has lots of common names:

  • Hausa potato
  • Zulu potato
  • Sudan potato
  • Madagascar potato (by the French)
  • Chinese potato (by Indians)
  • country potato
  • Coleus

In northern Ghana folks boil them and eat them lightly salted or peel and fry them. The skin is quite easy to remove when preparing them but it is time consuming since the potatoes are so small and numerous.

We’ve fallen in love in these little spuds and despite their size they taste more like American potatoes than yams and local “sweet potatoes.” Since they’ve been in season this past month, we’ve eaten them often. We’ve boiled them with cabbage, sautéed them in butter, fried them as tiny french fries and even mashed them to make creamed potatoes.