Drelyse African Restaurant – Spiciest Dish in Columbus Series
This spicy dish had been on our list for quite a while, but it was a bit out there so we had been a bit hesitant to give it a shot.
Drelyse African Restaurant sits inside one of the only true traffic circles in Columbus. Sure we have our roundabouts, but none of those have multiple restaurants, shops or an entire storage center sitting inside the circle. Inside that same circle sits Riziki Swahili Grill and West African takeout, but Drelyse was the one that caught our eye, specifically because it had been recommended a while back. We opted to get delivery this time around to try out some of the dishes that have been “handed over from generations.”
As a first-timer to Ghanaian cuisine, there are a lot of different interesting items on the menu, but one we tried out was the Fufu, a staple in African cuisine. Including cassava and green plantain flour, everything is mixed together into a bit of a sticky, starchy, bread ball. It’s intended to be dipped into soups or sauces, so we tried it out with the soup we acquired. Definitely an interesting experience overall. We also got some plantains, vitumbua (a homemade coconut-rice pancake) and sambusa, all excellent appetizers.
The Lady of the Farm selected the Jollof Rice with Chicken, made extra spicy. The reddish color is a bit scary initially, but the spices included are not just spicy, though some restaurants will add scotch bonnets to the dish. Tomato Paste is the primary red-ifier (no it’s not a word, but it makes sense to me), mixed with red pepper, garlic and some additional spices. It’s one of those sides that has a bit of an addictive quality, where there’s so much going on spice-wise you want to keep digging back in. Chicken on the bone with some onions and red peppers had me a bit worried for the Lady of the Farm from a heat perspective, but she was able to get through most of the dish, setting aside some of the rice due to the large portions. A bit of a kick, but a nice spice level for most folks to be able to get behind.
This sauce came along for the ride with the Jollof Rice with Chicken as well. It’s a garlicky sauce that likely contains the scotch bonnets or habaneros that typically come with Jollof Rice. A quick little hit of heat then a longer lasting linger that sticks around for a few seconds then wanders away. Slightly too much for the Lady of the Farm, but comfortable for me. Be sure to acquire this sauce if you go to add some extra zazz to your dish. Definitely an awesome addition from a heat perspective.
Here is the dish we’ve been teasing that when we first heard about it were like…wait, what is it? This is the Peanut Butter Soup with Goat, another Ghanaian staple and the recommendation for a contender of spiciest dish. On the outset, this didn’t seem like anything that would cause discomfort. There was a strong whiff of peanut butter, a scent very familiar to my peanut butter-loving nose, and then an after-scent of the goat meat. Please do not judge the picture above, I had neglected to get rice in there as well, so the separation of all the liquids after delivery hadn’t had time to settle into its new home. The first bite I got a lot of what I was expecting, with the familiar taste of peanut butter. A dish that is true to its name! As I was making jokes, a bit of heat caught me. Nothing scary, but my mouth was warm, and not just from the temperature of the soup. Another bite in and that fun peanut butter flavor had started to mix more with the goat, but also mix with the heat that was propelling the dish. My arrogance washed away as I began to assess the new heat levels that were swirling around. One quick word of warning, if you do go the goat route (there are non-meat options) there are bones in some of the chunks, so be warned.
This peanut butter Trojan horse had fooled me. It sucked me in with its cheeky peanut butter smell and intense peanut butter taste initially, but had given way to a more savory bowl of heat and meat. Peanut butter soup is typically prepared with habaneros or scotch bonnets, which matched the location of the heat in my mouth, primarily feeling it toward the back and a bit in the throat. It’s a sneaky heat that hides behind the peanut butter and then behind the goat giving you a bit of spicy initially, but welling as you get further into the dish. I added the rice to the bowl, but was already in heavy sniffle territory. The Lady of the Farm hopped in for a bite, instantly regretting it. As she wandered away, she waved her hand in front of her mouth breathing out as if that had ever worked before to cool things down.
Not quite mouth-breathing hot, but finishing the dish off, I went through a couple of tissues before the sniffles subsided. I would definitely get this dish again for the comfortable heat. It’s like a good friend that hangs out for a bit, but respectfully leaves as to not be a burden. No stomach pains or overly intense mouth pain, but there was a slight lip tingle. This soup gets the heat all over your mouth, but keeps you coming back bite after bite.
Nose blown, heat subsided, I reflected on the dish and where it stood on our list. It’s that same lingering heat that we’ve experienced in many spots, but isn’t overwhelming. Still pretty spicy though, so we’re placing this at #23, just after Noodle topia and their Szechuan Noodles and before the now defunct Tweeters Devil’s Breath Wings. Definitely a spicier dish than we were expecting, so potentially the biggest spicy surprise of the year.
You can find Drelyse at 1911 Tamarack Cir N, Columbus, OH 43229, now open daily from roughly 11:00-8:00pm.
We also found this video from 2019 that gives some in-depth info around Ghanaian food, but featuring Drelyse.
Look below for more in our spiciest dish in Columbus series and hit us up if you have any suggestions that are not already on our list!
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