For most non-Ghanaian’s, the first contact with the country is through the food. With a fascinating historical heritage, rich cultural diversity, extraordinary scenic beauty, and friendly people, Ghana boasts of a wide selection of dishes served in either international restaurants or in ubiquitous local ‘chop bars’ or street stalls on every street corner both in-country and in some major cities abroad too, like London and New York. Below are sample food stalls you will find across the country.
Ghanaian delicacies are simple yet flavourful. They are often described as a garden of flowers due to the different and colourful ingredients used in its preparation, very tantalizing at first glance. There are several dishes in Ghana yet a quick scan through various homes and local restaurants in all ten regions will point out to starchy staple food dominated by carbohydrates, and served with thick well-seasoned stews, sauce or soup containing a protein source. They are quite sophisticated with liberal and adventurous use of exotic ingredients and a wide variety of flavours, spices and seasonings.
Thinking of aroma and sweet fragrance for your food, local ingredients such as garlic, ginger, nutmeg, black pepper, Negro pepper, prekese are grown on the fertile soil in Ghana to make your dish spicy enough and whet appetites from a distance.
Knowledge about sources and use of spices, seasonings and condiments is derived mainly from family members by word of mouth. In almost every Ghanaian home you are definitely bound to find the following spices; garlic, onion, ginger cayenne, allspice, curry, thyme, bay leaf and chili pepper, which are the most widely used seasonings. These ingredients are stored differently by freezing, drying, salting, smoking or roasting and these in turn adds different flavours and taste when used in preparing Ghanaian dishes.
Certain foods that make up the Ghanaian diet vary according to which region of the country people live in. In as much as this multi ethnic country prioritises its hospitality and peaceful co-existence, so do the people cherish their food. Everyone has a favourite dish and every region has its own specialties. This is not to say that they do not eat any other food at all. It only means that they eat one type more. Here is our list of Ghanaian food, tasty recipes to try and a guide to food by region:
GREATER ACCRA REGION
Fondly referred to as Ga kenkey or nkran dokunu or kommey, this food is the main traditional dish eaten in this Region but can also be found on every street in Ghana. It is made out of fermented corn dough cut into dumpling sizes and wrapped in treated maize husk. Salt is added to spice up the flavour and put in a pot with water to boil for 1-3 hours, depending on the size of the dumplings and or heat source. The wrapping is discarded before eating. Just think of a slightly sour tamale without the inner filling and you've got a pretty good idea of what this Ghanaian staple is like.
Kommey is usually paired with hot pepper or shito; a spicy black pepper sauce that is as ubiquitous in Ghana as ketchup is in the US or UK. It is easy to prepare using onions (blended) , dried herrings (smoothly crushed), dried powdered shrimps, fresh pepper, dried pepper powder, tomato puree, garlic paste, minced ginger, chopped, nutmeg, powered cloves, vegetable oil, salt, blended cayenne pepper and fish seasoning (relative to quantity).
The kommey plus shito is commonly eaten with either one of the following; fried fish/ fried turkey tail (chofi)/ grilled tilapia/ grilled spicy pork/ grilled meat or liver dipped in spicy powder. The clean and dressed tilapia / chopped pork / meat is normally seasoned and stuffed with a well combined mixture of the following spices; black pepper powder, thyme, paprika, brown sugar, oregano, vegetable oil, salt, cumin, garlic, cayenne pepper, ginger powder, onion and chili powder according to taste. You can either fry or grill per side until well cooked. Garnish with lime wedges, stir fried mixed pepper and onion with some herbs eg. parsley.
An alternative popular meal in Accra is beans stew which is usually eaten with fried plantain or tatale. This meal is locally known as yoko gari or aboboi stew or red red - a name it derives from the palm oil that tints the stew and the bright orange color of the fried plantain. Cooked into a fine bean curry, red red is one of those few dishes that combines fresh tomatoes, blended onion, chilli powder, garlic, red palm oil or vegetable oil, salt, ground ginger, boiled black eye beans, bay leaves, aniseed and salted fish (optional) to demonstrates Ghanaian cuisine at its best and has managed to reignite the love of beans in many people. You can garnish and eat with avocado.
Groundnut soup a.k.a nkatenkwan is a spicy famed peanut soup from this region. This wonderful, rich, creamy soup is not hard to make with these ingredients; goat meat or fried fish, vegetable oil, chopped onions, chopped carrots, chopped green pepper, tomatoes puree, black beans, salt, red pepper paste, chunky peanut paste/ butter, rosemary, ground ginger and garlic.
Nkatenkwangoes great with fufu (local dumpling made from yams, plantains, cassava or even processed potato flakes). The fufu should sit like an island in a sea of soup. It is said that if an Ashanti man does not eat fufu, then he has not eaten that day. It provides a great deal of energy in as much as the various vegetables used for the soup are also highly nutritious. Sometimes the soup is served with plain rice, or you can mash the rice and make rice balls. If you like peanuts, you will like this!
Jollofis by far the most readily eaten and available in the region and across the country. It is also known as ‘party rice’ because of its frequent centre stageplacing at dinner party tables and banquets. It basically rice cooked in a spiced blend of tomatoes and onion which gives it its rich red colouring.
The basic components are chopped onions, cloves of pressed garlic, tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, vegetable oil, beef, chicken or lamb including broth or stock (alt: mixed vegetables), long grain rice, cayenne pepper or chilli powder, chopped coriander or parsley to garnish, curry powder, ground cinnamon, bay leaves, thyme, salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin and nutmeg powder.
The cooked jollofis served with fried meat / chicken / lamb / fish and lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over. Side dishes are usually kelewele or fried plantain and a crisp green salad. A well prepared plate of jollofrice can drive even the most critical foodies for second servings, and it is this Ghana’s local take on jollofrice which has created one of the biggest sensations among local folks....Stay Tuned for the Continuation soon!!!