The varieties of traditional Ghanaian dishes are mainly based on the distribution of food crops. With the abundance of tropical produce like corn, cassava, plantain, beans, millet, and yam, most ethnic groups creatively make use of these foodstuffs to prepare palatable dishes for their nourishment.
Apart from visiting Ghana’s museums, one can learn a lot about the Gold Coast with the types of foods its inhabitants enjoy eating.
Here is our list of 10 best Ghanaian Dishes you need to try when you visit Ghana.
Senegal is believed by many to be the originator of Jollof rice. As you may already know, Jollof is a pot dish of rice prepared with tomato sauce and served with meat or fish. In recent time, it has become a part of Ghanaian and Nigerian pop culture with the two countries always bickering online about who has the better Jollof. Ghanaian musician, Sister Deborah, brother of Wanlov, released a song in 2016 about the on-going “food war” titled “Ghana Jollof” where she threw shots at Nigeria’s Jollof. In its preparation, the rice soaks up the juicy flavors and turns orange after cooking. Jollof is a national favorite that can be found in most restaurants or dished out by street vendors at relatively moderate prices.
Another popular Ghanaian dish that demonstrates how creative Ghanaians can be with rice is Waakye. The recipe is a medley of beans and rice and was originally a dish popular in the Northern region of Ghana. It is now found in almost every part of the country, especially on the streets of Accra. Eating Waakye will open the door to a range of Ghanaian tastes and flavors as the main dish is served with other sides such as eggs, fish, meat, fried plantain, gari (grated cassava), spaghetti, avocado and shito.
Banku and tilapia
When you see fish being grilled on the streets of Accra it is most likely to be tilapia, a spicy delicacy among Ghanaians. It is complemented with banku, a Southern mix of fermented corn and cassava dough, and very hot pepper, diced tomatoes and onions and sometimes with a dash of shito. Banku and tilapia is one of the main dishes of the people who live by the Ghanaian coast due to their proximity to the sea.
Plantain and Beans Stew (Red-red)
Plantain and beans stew (Red red) is a filling traditional dish that consists of cowpea beans boiled to make a broth, served with palm oil and soft, fried plantain. It is one of the Ghanaian dishes that doesn’t use a lot of spice because the main taste comes from the ingredients it’s served with – it can also be dished up with gari to make it even more hearty. Red red is also a perfect choice for vegetarians as it does not require any animal products. One may choose to add fish, meat or eggs to the meal.
Fufu and goat light soup
In the Eastern and Ashanti regions of Ghana, one meal guaranteed to work its wonder is fufu and goat light soup, the proud dish of the Akan. Fufu is a staple food across West Africa but in Ghana, it is made by pounding a mixture of boiled cassava and plantains into a soft sticky paste to go along with aromatic and spicy soup. Fufu can also be found in Northern Ghana, although it is made with yam in this region. This weekend delight is relished across the country, albeit with slight differences made to the core recipe.
Northern Ghanaian food is dominated by the use of grains, herbs and meat as these are the main food products of the area. Tuo Zaafi is similar to banku, although it is quite soft and less sticky, and is made by cooking corn dough and adding a little cassava. What distinguishes Tuo Zaafi and makes it a popular meal nationwide is the nutritious and rare herbs used in making the accompanying soup, including dawadawa and ayoyo leaves.
Kenkey and fried fish
Kenkey is another corn-based staple dish similar to banku, that is made by moulding fermented corn dough into balls and wrapping them around dried corn husks, which are then boiled. The meal is served with hot pepper sauce, fried crabs, shrimps, octopus or fish and is a delicacy of the people of Accra.
No list of traditional Ghanaian foods would be complete without this savoury side dish. Kelewele is an instant favorite among anyone who tries it, even those who aren’t big fans of peppery food. Usually sold as a snack or side dish all over Accra, it is made by frying soft plantains that have been soaked in a medley of peppers, ginger and garlic. The aroma is crisp and strong, while the pleasant plantain adds some sweetness to the sour.
Omo Tuo (or rice balls) are another traditional Ghanaian food that shows how the population often reinvents the myriad ways of eating rice. It comprises soft boiled grains that are moulded into balls and served with a variety of soups, and makes a great accompaniment to many dishes like fufu. It is said by many that the best soup to eat it with is Groundnut soup.
Boiled yam or plantain with Kontomire stew
One present feature in local Ghanaian food is the use of a variety of leaf vegetables and local herbs and spices. The highly nutritious Kontomire stew is made from boiled tender cocoyam leaves, salted fish and boiled eggs, and goes perfectly with boiled yams, plantains and avocado.