May Foods – “authentic Ghanaian restaurant” Again

16C Market Row, London SW9 8LD

Tel. No. 020 7978 8830


This restaurant has no menu, rarely is English spoken inside and the food is confusing, which is probably why most guides to eating in Brixton ignore this restaurant. It serves Brixton’s West African community and it can be a bit intimidating but everyone is friendly and helpful. We decided to take our 20 year old trainee midwife guest right out of her comfort zone and to somewhere she would never have entered alone. This was really a test of whether a complete novice could cope. She did really well so now more intrepid Brixtonians need to step inside. If you are not lucky enough to be travelling to Ghana then this is the next best thing.

We reviewed this already [see here] but we thought most people would need a reminder of the types of food that are served. This is, as it says on the front, “authentic2 which means it revolves around large amounts of carbohydrate – namely banku, kenkey or fufu  which are all made from one or more of rice, corn, cassava and plantain. The difference lies in the preparation –

  • Banku is cooked and fermented corn and cassava dough. It has a strange slightly yeasty taste and comes as a ball of something like greyish mashed potato.
  • Kenkey is fermented corn dough and comes wrapped in leaves and is a more solid consistency. It is like a sourdough dumpling and so the easiest way in to the starchy part of a meal.
  • Fufu is usually pounded cassava and plantain and you eat it by pinching of a bit, dipping it into the sauce and swallowing whole. It looks  more gelatinous than the other two in this list and we can’t comment on the taste because we have not yet been brave enough to attempt it.

With each type of carbohydrate you can choose meat or fish or stew (usually tomatoes and something else – we have never asked). Sometimes this is very spicy but on our last visit was just really rich. But for the faint-hearted they also sell Jollof rice, which is a sort of colourful and spicy risotto.

The restaurant is open during the week and on Saturday but only until 6.30 but you can get a takeaway. The main carbohydrate is sold in plastic bags, which is authentic, as this is just how it is sold on the streets of Accra and Elmina. We ordered two lots of Banku, stew and fish and meat and a jollof rice with fried fish.

Those eating the Banku get a stainless steel bowl full of warm water and some liquid soap as this meal is eaten with your fingers. The Jollof came with cutlery.. I only got one portion of Banku and I did manage to finish it this time. Pulling bits off and dipping them in the stew was relatively easy, if a little messy and sticky. The fish though was taxing as it was very hot, so they took pity on me and gave me a knife and fork.mayfoods11mayfoods13 The Jollof was tasty, not too spicy and went well as a foil to the fried fish.mayfoods12 The meat was a little tough but our guest ate nearly all of her meal. We were really pleased as she is an Edinburgh lass who doesn’t like spicy, has never eaten any African food and for whom exotic is pizza. Now she can go home with something to remember.

The entire meal was inexpensive at £15 – it would be hard to spend a lot of money .. We didn’t have any drinks but there is water and other soft drinks available.

Kumasi Market


3rd Avenue

27-28 Brixton Village


020 7737 6277

Kumasi is a city in Ghana and the capital of Ashanti. It gives its name to Kumasi Market in Brixton Village, one of a trio of stores in Third Avenue selling mainly food and goods from West Africa. Together with the African Queen Fabric store, it’s like a little bit of Africa in the heart of Brixton. I have intended for some time to cover one of these stores in our series of posts on food shops in Brixton but I always found them a bit daunting. The dried and smoked fish is particularly exotic. However, I’ve occasionally chatted to the shopkeepers, and found that they are really helpful in explaining what they have on offer.

So, the intention in these posts is to buy the ingredients at a Brixton store and to make a typical meal. As we have reported before, we have been to Ghana and enjoyed the Ghanaian food at May Foods – see the report here – but this has been my first attempt at actually cooking the food. It has been more of a challenge, as many of the key ingredients are less familiar to those of us with a European background. This is particularly true of the key part of any true Ghanaian meal, the carbohydrate.

The dish I’ve gone for is chicken in peanut sauce served with banku and spinach. I’ve used an amalgam of different recipes. All of the main ingredients have come from Kumasi Market, apart from the chicken which came from Jones the Butcher.

The ingredients for the chicken in peanut sauce are: 1 kilo of chicken (legs, thighs and wings are best); 3 tbsp vegetable oil; 1 large onion, chopped; a 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced; 6-8 garlic cloves, chopped roughly; 1 kilo of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks; 1 can of chopped tomatoes; 1 litre chicken stock; 1 cup groundnut paste/peanut butter; 1 cup peanuts, roasted; 1 tbsp ground coriander; 1 teaspoon cayenne; Salt and ground black pepper; and lots of chopped coriander as a garnish. Most of the heat in the dish, and in an authentic version there’s plenty, comes from the ground black pepper. I


The first step is to brown the chicken and put to one side. Then fry the onions, adding the spices when it has softened. Finally you put everything in the same pot and stew until the chicken and sweet potato is all cooked – check after an hour. After it cooled a bit I removed the bones but this is a matter of taste. The finished article probably benefits from being left to stand for a while, before reheating. You can garnish with lots of coriander.

The accompaniments were banku and spinach. The banku is balls of fermented dough and takes a bit of getting used to, as well as being hard work to make. I did make my own, with a mixture of readymade cassava and corn dough bought from Kumasi and it was an education in itself. However, my tip is to buy it readymade from May Foods in Market Row. It should also be understood that the term spinach applies to almost any green leaves. I just chopped and washed mine and fried it in garlic infused oil.


Everyone enjoyed the chicken and spinach but views were mixed on the banku. We found a little goes a long way. It would be good with rice of course.

Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen – Pop Brixton

To find: Unit 36 Pop Brixton 49 Brixton Station Road London SW9 8PQ

telephone: 07931602889


We had heard good things about this restaurant, even before they had a permanent residence, but when we booked a pop-up “event” they cancelled. So this visit is long awaited. And while we can’t claim to be experts on Ghanaian food, a couple of us have been there and we also liked the food at Brixton’s longer-established more traditional Ghanaian restaurant – see our review here.

This restaurant is well signposted as part of Pop Brixton. This is a collection of large storage containers offering food, drink and the occasional piece of jewellery or clothing. ZGK is on the upper level and can only be approached from the set of stairs on the right immediately after the entrance.

There is a small interior with tables and benches for 12 people who know each other very well. There is also an outside area but the rain has made that only for the really hardy. The menu has mains, sides, sauces and desserts so easy peasy. Although the restaurant is Ghanaian it didn’t have any of the usual staples like banku or kenkey on offer. This is more like tapas, with the carbohydrate coming from the plantain, okra and jollof rice. For the mains there is chicken, beef, mackerel and lamb. But the menu is a bit limited for vegetarians who have to settle for the sole bean dish.


We started with krispy kale which wasn’t very crispy and was a bit oily. This is an easy dish to prepare and cook and we thought it must have wilted in the humidity of the kitchen. Then we tried to work our way through the whole menu with every dish except the beef. We also ordered Okra tempura fries,  Kelewele Spiced Chips (Caramelised chunky plantain chips infused w/ a spice mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and fresh ginger) and Jollof rice. We liked everything and the spiced mackerel was a really hefty dish filling the whole plate and was spicy. The well cooked and spicy lamb was a favourite of the person who ordered it, even though he doesn’t really like peanut butter. The beans were declared a hit as was the chicken. The chicken was eaten with a very spicy hot Smoked Fish based Chilli Oil Dip. This was lovely but our choice of flavours slightly odd.


Then we come to the side dishes. Okra was covered in good batter but was a bit oily (on the outside) and the plantain chips were really good if a bit flabby. I assume to get them really crisp they need to be covered in some form of flour. Jollof rice was certainly something we would order again.


For dessert we ordered the doughnut and the Banofee pie. The Banofee pie was the star. The doughnuts were a bit on the heavy side.


They do serve alcohol and we ordered two light and two dark lagers which – be warned – come in huge bottles. I say this because not only is it a lot of liquid and toilets are a scarce resource but they also take up a lot of space on the table. We suggest sharing and using a cup then you increase the table space.

The lovely surprise at the end of the meal was the bill – £60.00 for four people including four large beers – a bargain.

May Foods – “authentic Ghanaian restaurant”

16C Market Row, London SW9 8LD

Tel. No. 020 7978 8830


The main blogs about Brixton have so far ignored this restaurant – perhaps because it mainly serves Brixton’s West African community. Although we had previously eaten here we also had not provided a review. This is because we never really knew whether or not this was an “Authentic Ghanaian Restaurant”, as it tells us on the front. However, after spending an enjoyable week’s holiday in Ghana, we can now confidently affirm that it most definitely is. It is not so much hidden as unassuming. The front is half covered with frosted glass, so it’s hard to see inside before you enter and, when you do, it probably doesn’t look as inviting as many of the pop-ups in the Village. There are no bright lights, no tasteful décor. Just some posters, a few odd angled tables and mismatched chairs, through which you have to negotiate safe passage to the counter. There you order your food, with usually just one person taking orders and serving the food from an array of large pots. Given the unfamiliarity of the food and surroundings, you might feel you need to be quite brave to step over the threshold, but it is worth the effort.

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