7 foods you MUST try in Ghana
There are three traits I inherited from my father- my dancing skills, my insane ability to fall asleep anywhere at anytime, and my utter adoration for food.
Before I travel to any country, I research foods to try. Before my trip to Ghana, I already had established a list of dishes I wanted to try. I attempted to try anything and everything that crossed my path in Ghana.
So let's jump into this post where I tell you my favorite foods/dishes that you MUST try when you go to Ghana.
1. Jollof Rice
Jollof rice is a spiced rice dish. It gets its red color from tomatoes and is laced with goodies such as scotch bonnet pepper (habanero), thyme, garlic and onion. For Americans- think cajun Jambalaya minus all the meat inside. Ghanaians often add vegetables like carrots, peas, and green peppers to their rice.
Jollof rice may be the most controversial dish in West Africa. Why? Because almost every country thinks they are the sole founder and expert at Jollof rice. My first experience with Jollof rice was surprisingly in Ireland. I was visiting my cousin Anika, and her next door Nigerian neighbor invited us over for Jollof. I remember trying it and finally understanding what this jollof war is all about (because this rice is absolutely killer).
Now I ran into some controversy as I still say that the best Jollof rice I've had was made by a Nigerian auntie in Ireland. But- Ghana definitely has the Jollof rice thing down. All of my Ghanaian friends told me I didn't go to the right spots to get Jollof, so I'll make sure to update this paragraph upon my next trip to Ghana.
Kelewele are spiced fried plantains. The plantain is the bigger, tastier sister of the banana. Cultures across the world have been frying these bad boys up for centuries but Ghanaians have indeed perfected the art.
You'll often find kelewele chopped into small pieces, seasoned with spices like chili, ginger, nutmeg, and pepper. Sometimes you'll find the dish served with groundnuts (peanuts). It's the perfect snack and side dish to grilled meat or fish.
I think 80% of my weight gain in Ghana came from me ordering kelewele with every meal.
I LOVE STREET MEAT.
I cannot say no to street food meat, and chichinga has to be my favorite street meat of all time. Chichinga are kebabs consisting of different meats such as goat, chicken, sausage, gizzards and beef. The kebabs are usually pre-made. When you order, they're cooked over charcoals and then served with a healthy heaping of chili spice.
If you have a nut allergy, maybe opt for no spice. The ground spice mix is often made with peanuts.
4. Fufu and Palm Nut Soup
I'm going to be honest, going to Ghana I was unsure if I was going to like Fufu. I tried the dish once at Sierra Leonean funeral (long story don't ask) and I did not like it. But- of course I didn't like it, because I tried it without soup like a child.
Fufu is a pounded starch, with a similar texture to dough. It's a staple across West Africa, In Ghana, most fufu is made with cassava (yucca) and unripe plantain. The mixture is cooked together and then pounded using a mortar and pestle.
Watching fufu be made is an extraordinary experience. It takes two to tango, and it also take two to pound fufu. One person pounds the malleable dough, while the other person kneads.
Fufu is best enjoyed with a soup or stew. My favorites are groundnut(peanut) soup and palm nut soup. The ball of fufu is placed in a bowl and is topped with the soup of your choice and meat.
The best way to eat fufu is to dip into the ball, cut it with your fingers, scoop up some soup, and SWALLOW.
Chewing your fufu is a big no-no!
You cannot leave Ghana without at least trying this delicacy.
Can you imagine eating rice for breakfast? I honestly couldn't until I got my hands on Waakye.
Now the name is a little confusing, waakye (wah-che) is the name of the rice and beans dish. Very similar to Jamaican rice and peas, Waakye is a dish made from rice and black eyed peas, simmered together with millet stalks.
Think of waakye as a beautifully crafted Ghanaian breakfast bowl. You start with your first layer (waakye) and then add things like meat, fish, meat stew, spaghetti, avocado, plantain, boiled egg, garri (grated cassava). And no waakye is complete without shito, a black pepper sauce.
Waakye is often served in a banana leaf or if you're on the go like always was, just a box or a bag. Don't judge a book by it's cover, while this dish looks a bit messy, it's probably one of the best things you'll eat in Ghana.
6. Omo Tuo
Omo tuo are rice balls served with stews and soups. Ghanaians don't eat much regular-degular plain white rice. Omo tuo became my escape for when I wanted just something plain. The balls have a sticky texture, almost like sushi rice. It's the perfect accompaniment to Light chicken soup.
7. Banku and Tilapia
Banku and Tilapia is another Ghanaian staple and is very popular especially in Accra. This dish is a staple of the Ga people. Banku is a corn-based ball of dough, very similar to fufu. It's enjoyed with grilled tilapia smothered with onions and peppers and accompanied with a green pepper sauce.
Honestly, banku is not my favorite ball of dough in the world. It has a little bit of a smokey flavor, that I personally didn't love. BUT I think it's a dish you can't leave Ghana without trying.
So there you have it, my list of the 7 foods you must try in Ghana!