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Let’s talk Ghanaian cuisine or foods. It is difficult describing a cuisine. I would say Ghanaian cuisine is made up of mostly carbohydrate and fermented grains served with stews or soups. That is not to say, the food is boring, the stews and soups are very delicious you would not notice the fermented foods accompanying the meals.
I have here some foods and ingredients not strictly unique to Ghana but common in most Ghanaian kitchen. Heard some words you not familiar with, I will try and break it down here. Hope you enjoy reading.
Grab yourself a glass of wine, it would help if it is getting boring along the way. This track at the background won’t be bad.
Aboloo: steamed corn meal. Sugar is added making it slightly sweet and is normally eaten with fried fish like one man thousand.
Abom: known as abomu in twi which means together. This comprises of boiled greens like cocoyam leaves, dandelions or garden eggs that is grinded with onions, pepper and tomatoes in apotoyewa and finished off with palm oil. Momoni, koobi, groundnuts and dried fish like herrings is mostly added. It is a quick sauce and is commonly eaten with ampesie. It is mostly eaten in groups and I am without doubt, that brought about the name.
Agbeli krakro/ bankye krakro: made from grated cassava. Cassava is first grated, liquid squeezed out, seasoned with salt, onion and pepper, molded into balls and fried. It is eaten with the hard coconut fruit.
Akpele: this is made from fermented corn and cassava dough like banku. However, akpele is lighter in terms of texture than banku. Akpele is a specialty among the Ewe people in the Volta region.
Ampesie: staple food which is either boiled yam, plantain, cassava, cocoyam, sweet potatoes etc.
Apraprasa: made from grounded roasted corn and palm nut soup and mostly served with crabs.
Asaana/ Ekuuleme: fermented corn drink made with caramelised sugar.
Atadwe milk: tiger nut pudding made by extracting milk from tiger nuts (atadwe) and cooked with rice flour. Sugar is then added and served as dessert.
Attieke/ Akyɛke: made from grated cassava which is left to ferment. The liquid is then squeezed out, air dried, pounded and steam. This resembles couscous and I have heard it being referred to as cassava couscous. Attieke is eaten as a side dish to any meal and is native to the Nzema people in the Western region. There is confusion over who invented this dish between Nzemas and Ivoirians. However, in terms of popularity, it is widely eaten in Ivory Coast than in Ghana as it is more common in the Western region than other regions. In Accra, it is sadly considered as an imported dish from Cote D’Ivoire. (Yes they do not know Nzemas too make attieke).
Atwemo/ Atsomo: fried dough normally shaped like sticks or cut into bite sizes. It tends to be hard and crispy. This is similar to Nigeria’s chin chin.
Ayo yo soup: made using ayo yo leaves and mostly eaten with tuo zaafi.
Ball float (bofrot): similar to puff puff in Nigeria or beignets in Cameroon or other parts of the universe. There are two variations of this fried dough, small round ones that has slightly hard crust and big ones similar to beignets which is soft and can be made in any shape. The smaller ones are called torgbei in some parts of Ghana and tend to be sweeter than the big ones.
Bambara sauce/ aboiboi: stew made with bambara beans. You will like this bambara beans sauce.
Banku: made from a combination of fermented corn and cassava dough. This is mostly eaten as a side to stews and soups like okro stew, groundnut soup etc.
Bissap/ Sobolo: tangy drink made by brewing hibiscus petals. Additions include ginger, cloves, pineapple, orange peels, etc.
Brukina: cooked whole millet mixed with fermented cow milk or yogurt . Regular milk is mostly used now.
Bome powder/ Ecomog/ Ayigbe biscuits: a very hard biscuit with hints of coconut and eaten with the hard coconut fruit.
E – J
Egushie: also known as akatoa in fante or twi. A friend who studied home economics in school recently told me it is referred to as melon seeds. (My confusion is they do not come from the melon fruit). Well, they look like pumpkin or melon seeds. It is mostly grinded and used in stews. See how I use it here Kontomire with smoked salmon and eguishie (melon seeds)
Epitse: snack made with over ripe plantains. Spices such as ginger, cloves, grains of Selim and onions are added and baked in plantain leaves. This is commonly eaten with roasted groundnuts. See copycat Savoury plantain cake
Ekwebuime: maize porridge made by passing maize through mill to remove the outer covering and any chaff. It resembles grits in America.
Etsew/ ɛtsew: similar to banku but it is made without cassava dough. This is unique to the Fantes in the Central region.
Dakuwa in Northern parts of Ghana, Zowe in Volta Ghana), Alakuwa/Adakuwa in other parts of Ghana: This is originally dakuwa from Northern Ghana but it has lost its original name and it is mentioned differently in other parts of Ghana. In Takoradi here, it is mentioned Alakuwa. This is simply roasted grounded groundnuts with spices like cloves, ginger, grains of selim and rolled to balls. Sugar is added to make it sweet.
Eto/ɛto: this is either mashed yam or mashed partially-ripe plantains seasoned with pepper and onions. Additions include palm nut oil and groundnuts.
Fante fante: I call it fisherman’s stew. This is a tomato based palm oil stew made with freshly caught fish, shrimps and octopus.
Fomfom: made from corn dough. With this corn dough, the corn is passed through a mill to remove it outer covering before grinding. It is made to ferment in water, molded into balls, steamed and pounded to get fomfom. (Tedious process right?) Unlike kenkey, fomfom is not sour and it is from the Ahanta people in the Western region. It is normally eaten with grounded pepper and kyenam or palm nut soup.
Fufu: when fufu is mentioned, what comes to mind is pounded cassava and plantains. There are other versions like cocoyam fufu and yam fufu.
Fula: millet smoothie. This made by blending steamed spicy millet dough with fermented milk or any milk of choice.
Gari: made from grated cassava and resembles a course flour. See Cassava coconut biscuits
Groundnut: referred to as peanuts in the West.
Gravy: this is tomato stew.
Jollof: made by steaming rice and gravy together. This food is common in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Senegal etc. History has it that Senegalese traders introduced this dish to Ghana. See Herrings and beans jollof. (I do not understand why Nigerians and Ghanaians are always fighting over jollof. Even my Senegalese people the creators, aren’t talking.)
K – N
Kakro/ klaklo: this is made by blending over-ripe plantains, spices and flour together. The mixture is then deep fried. This goes well with bambara beans sauce. Got some plantains you want to discard? See kakro
Kenkey (Dorkun in fante, dorkunu in twi): made from fermented corn dough. There are two variations; Fante kenkey and Ga kenkey. Fante kenkey is wrapped in plantain leaves and steamed to cook whiles Ga kenkey is wrapped in corn husks before cooking.
Kokoo: porridge. If have nothing doing in any particular day, try Spicy corndough porridge. You will understand later.
Koobi: tilapia brined in salt and sun dried. This is normally used in stews. (Confession: I do not enjoy koobi but I find some recipes incomplete without it.) Love garden eggs, I used it in this Garden egg stew.
Koose: made from grounded black eye beans and spices like grains of selim, cloves, pepper corns etching. This is deep fried.
Kulikuli: technically fried groundnut paste. The groundnut paste is kneaded with hot water to extract the oil out. It seasoned with spices and salt, rolled into thin strips and deep fried.
Kyinkyinga pepper/ Suya in Nigeria/ Moukogari: spice blend made with groundnuts, garlic, chili powder, etc. This is a Hausa specialty, they make the best blend.
Konkote: side dish made from fermented grounded cassava.
Kyenam: fried fish in fante.
Maggi: brand of seasoning blend.
Momoni: fresh fish that is brined with salt for some days and sun dried. Though it has a stinking smell, it is technically not rotten fish as the salt prevents it from going bad. It is sautéed in palm oil for flavour when making stews and also used in palm nut soup.
Mpotopoto/ makenikyemee: slow cooked cocoyam with tomatoes, onions and palm oil. Smoked fish like herrings, brined and smoked octopus is added as well. ( Are you with me? I do not like to admit it, this may be my favourite meal). Hey love Mpotopoto.
Mo dokon: grounded rice wrapped in plantain leaves before it is baked or steamed. This is from the Nzema region.
Maasa: another fried dough. (Obviously some people do not mind the hot oil ). This is however made from rice or millet flour unlike bofrot which is made from wheat flour.
Meat pie: hand pies with fillings like grounded beef or fish.
Nkatse cake: groundnuts brittle.
O – P
One-man- thousand: a type of anchovy which is mostly fried and eaten with banku, ɛtsew, aboloo, etc.
Ofam: savory plantain cake made from over- ripe plantains, spices like ginger, cloves, grains of selim, African calabash nutmeg, etc and palm oil. Similar to Epistse but this is baked in baking pans whiles epitse is baked in plantain leaves. A similar version Savoury plantain cake
Palava sauce: this is a stew made with cocoyam leaves (kontomire) and eguishie. This is mostly eaten with yam, plantain, cocoyam and cassava. Don’t have kontomire? Spinach works well in this Palava sauce
Pan cakes: Ghanaian pancakes resemble crepes and is similar to British style of pancakes. My people love nutmeg in their pancakes. I think I aced it Pancakes
Palm wine: fine wine extracted from the palm tree.
Pitoo: brewed beer from guinea corn.
Pinkaso: spicy fried dough. Again? 😐
Plalaki (Nzema) Yaka yaka (others): made from cassava, with the process similar to attieke. However with Plalaki, there is no fermentation involved and the end result is molded flat like pancakes and steamed.
Poloo: fried dough made from a combination of coconuts, flour and sugar. Hey Pollo.
Puha: sweet spicy drink made from African velvet tamarind and spices.
Prɛkɛsɛ: botanical name; Tetrapleura tetraptera. This is normally used as a spice or for medicinal purposes.
Red red: fried plantain and beans stew. Palm oil is used to fry the plantains and also to make the stew. I guess that’s the reason for the name. See Red red
Soakings: this is a quick snack made with gari, water, sugar, milk and groundnuts. My sisters and I used to consider it as dessert when we were kids.
Sweet bud: fried dough like ball float (bofrot). Sweet bud is sweeter than bofrot and has a slightly soft center and hard chewy crust. (I just realised a lot of hot oil is involved in Ghanaian cooking, I will survive).
Shito: considered a condiment. There are two types; black and green. The black one is made using onions, pepper, ginger, garlic, tomato puree, spices, shrimp and fish powder. The green is mainly kpakoshito, (green scotch bonnet) green chilies, onions, garlic, ginger and spices.
Tuubani: made from beans that is first grounded, spiced and steamed. It is eaten with kyinkyinga pepper. This is similar to moi moi in Nigeria.
Tuo-zaafi: made from milled corn (husk and chaff removed) and fermented grounded cassava . It is mostly served as a side to ayo yo and a special meat stew.
Tatale: similar to kakro. This is pan fried whiles kakro is deep fried.
Waakye: rice and beans cooked with dried millet leaves. It is NOT waakye without the millet leaves. The bold block letters is necessary.
Wagashi: farmers cheese. This is made by the Fulani people in the North and resembles paneer cheese.
Yam balls: traditionally boiled yam, mashed, molded into balls which is dipped in breadcrumbs and fried. I got you covered with a baked Yam balls. You will love it.
Huh! You got to the bottom of this list? Oh I love you already, I guess you enjoyed reading. I will be updating this list with time. Meanwhile feel free browsing through the recipes, sharing if you like and hopefully stick around as I make a mess out of my mama’s kitchen.
Want more? Check In spice we devour.