A savoury tour of Ghana foods

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A savoury tour of Ghana foods

Ghana has a collection of some of the world’s most sumptuous and nutritious foods. Well, you might think this is just a citizen’s ‘boastful brag’. Let’s do this.  Just make a conscious effort to taste some of the very popular local meals and you will be a vociferous ambassador of Ghana foods in a fortnight. Perhaps you are new in this country or do not know much about the local foods.  Let’s take a cursory tour of the country, its foods and brief descriptions of the foods to give you a mental picture and whet your appetite in the process.

From the north to the south of Ghana and on almost every street, one is likely to find a waakye joint. Waakye is arguable the most eaten heavy breakfast in Ghana. It is a combination of rice and a marginal proportion of beans boiled together. It is usually accompanied with stew, shito, gari, macaroni, meat, vegetables, fish and egg. It is by far one of the highly nourishing foods around.

From the heart of the capital, Accra, the traditional food of the Indigenes is kenkey, also called kormi or dorkonu. Made from corn dough, kenkey is gorgeously wrapped in corn husk and usually served hot with pepper sauce and fried fish. Some people choose to augment the pepper sauce with either soup or stew. On wet and rainy mornings as is the case of June and July, a kenkey breakfast is all one needs to ignite you for the day. Just like most of the local foods, it can be eaten as breakfast, lunch or supper. There is the Fante kenkey too which is quite similar to the Ga one but is wrapped with banana leaves and can be preserved for long.  If you find yourself anywhere close to Korle Bu teaching hospital, take a little walk into the neighbouring food stalls and treat yourself to a ball or two of hot kenkey with fresh fried fish and pepper sauce.

Banku by now should be an international food in its own right.  It is widely eaten all over Ghana and is easy to prepare. Made from the right proportion of cassava and corn dough, banku is served best with okro soup. It can also be served with pepper sauce and fish. It is very common to find banku and tilapia joints in the capital – Accra. You can look out for Phillipo’s in East Legon.  However for the best banku experience, take a walk outside Accra, carry your appetite along and glide gracefully into the capital of the Volta region, Ho. Ask anyone you want where you can get the best banku and okro soup experience.  Make sure you don’t get stuck in Ho after the treat.

A sibling of banku with quite similar features is Akple.  Indigenous to the people of the Volta region, Akple is prepared with dry corn flour. It is served hot from the pot with okro soup or pepper sauce with fish. The perfect holiday moment is sitting on the beautiful beaches of Keta and enjoying soft and hot akple ably aided by a well constituted okro soup or pepper sauce with some Keta school boys ( name of tiny fish  usually from this area), whilst listening to the rhythms of the sea.

By now you might have wondered why most of these local foods are made from either corn or cassava. Well, it a characteristic of most staples food from Ghana. So let us take a drive up north and take a taste of Tuo zaafi and ayoyo soup. Tuo zaafi is made from corn or millet flour and is soft and sticky in nature. To balance its sticky nature, the ayoyo soup that it mostly goes with is slippery in nature. Ayoyo is the name of the leaves the soup is made with.

By now if you don’t know what fufu is, you might want to start re-orienting yourself about Ghana. Giving you a text based description in this case might not help too much. When in Kumasi, get closer to Bantama and ask of Sister Akos chop bar and order a bowl of fufu. You could also try out Acuzzi chop bar which is close to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. You will get a lasting education on fufu. You are sure to find Emotuo at these places too. Emotuo is simply known as rice balls. The name is very implied.  It is best eaten with either peanut soup or palm nut soup.

Most of the staples food mentioned are eaten with similar nutritious soups such as okro soup, peanut (ground nut) soup, palm nut soup, light soup and the like. Ghanaian soups deserve a separate article on their own. However some features are, they mostly contain leafy vegetables, meats and fish. Peanut, palm nut and okro soups are usually thick in nature. Light soup as the name suggest is lighter compared to the others.  You can either have goat light soup or chicken light soup.

Just before you commit an eating blunder, be reminded that most of these foods with the exception of waakye are ideally eaten with the hands. Spoon, fork and knife are a no no. Perhaps you can try out red red if you insist on using your fork, nice and spoon. Red red is boiled beans with fried plantain, palm oil stew and gari to taste. A feel of the real red red experience away from the restaurant environment is not a bad idea at all. On the main Legon road, there is a popular red red (gabeans) seller at the Atomic junction- Madina Estate lorry station.  You might want to say hello to her.

I am sure your imagination and appetite have been psyched up well enough.  Let me not overload it with the glorious praise of our almighty Jollof. The mention of the name alone is enough clue for one to know what to do. Enjoyed the cursory tour?  Now take a real food tour and if you are asked why you travelled all the way to a place, tell them the love of Ghanaian food brought you there.

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2 Comments

  1. For me, the food would take some getting used to. Everything is soupy, soft and fishy. Where are the steaks, chops, chicken, roasts and other meats? I like fish, but I can’t imagine fish and soup.

    From pictures that I have seen, Ghana looks like any Western country to me. I’d love to visit Ghana some day. As an American of African descent (Slave) I have lived in Japan and Germany, but I have never been to a country where the majority is Black, like me. Now, initially, that would be both a treat and probably shocking to my psyche. It’s shocking when I am in a massive group of mostly black people here in the U.S.

    I have often thought of relocating to an African country but the cultural differences is frightening to me.

    • Octavia, this article chose to focus on the indigenous foods of Ghana which are mostly soup as you said. However trust me, the steaks, chops, chickens are as common as the local foods and easy to get too. I am sure you will fall in love with the indigenous ones after one or two attempts. And oh about the cultural differences? Do not not be afraid. Accra for instance is a cosmopolitan city with diverse people and cultures. It will be easy to fit in after the ice melts away. All you need is a shot of adventure and you are good to go. Looking forward to your first visit.

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