From the spices used to the cooking methods employed, traditional Ghanaian food is an experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world.
Each region in Ghana has its own unique cuisine, but there are some dishes that are widely popular throughout the country. These dishes often use local ingredients such as cassava, plantains, yams, peppers, and palm oil.
In this article, I will take you on a journey through some of my favorite traditional Ghanaian foods. If you like African food, check out my guides on North African, Central African, East African, and South African food!
If you’re looking for a delicious and nutrient-rich West African soup, try making some Palm Nut Soup. It’s made by pounding palm nut fruit to extract the pulp and simmering it with assorted meat, spices, and leafy greens.
This traditional Ghanaian dish is typically served with rice or any starchy side and pairs perfectly with fermented corn dough or cassava dough.
For those who prefer something creamier, adding peanut butter to the soup can give it a rich and satisfying flavor. If there should be anything left, you can store it in the fridge for up to four days or frozen for three months.
While palm oil is a controversial ingredient due to its impact on human health and the environment, canned palm nut concentrate can be found in African and Caribbean shops as an alternative.
Give this hearty and flavorful dish a try for your next dinner party or a cozy night in!
You can elevate your plant-based cooking game by incorporating Garden Eggs into a flavorful stew that’s perfect for any occasion. Originating from Sub-Saharan Africa, Garden Eggs are a unique teardrop fruit similar in nature to purple eggplant/aubergine.
In Ghanaian cuisine, they are a staple vegetable used in various dishes such as soups and stews due to their ability to absorb flavor and their high water content.
The vegan-friendly Garden Egg Stew is delicious and easy to make with simple ingredients such as ginger, red palm oil, and tomato paste, better than bouillon paste, curry powder, and salt. The dish is adaptable to personal preferences and dietary restrictions with options for adding tofu or beans for added plant-based protein.
Served with boiled yam and plantains, this vegetable soup perfectly represents traditional Ghanaian food with cultural significance beyond its borders.
Get ready to savor the unique taste of Kokonte, a traditional dish made from dried cassava flour popular in many parts of West Africa. This dish has a distinct brown color and is typically served with pounded palm nut soup, groundnut soup, or other West African stews.
To make Kokonte, you’ll need cassava flour and water mixed and stirred with a wooden spatula until it forms a consistent paste. The mixture is kneaded with a wooden spoon to remove lumps before being molded into desired sizes using a small bowl.
Leftovers can be stored for later consumption in the refrigerator. With approximately 220 calories per serving, this yam flour meal is perfect for lunch or dinner and can be customized to fit individual preferences.
So why not try making Kokonte at home today?
Indulge in the rich and hearty flavor of Red Red, a mouth-watering vegetarian black-eyed peas stewed beans dish that will leave you feeling satisfied and nourished. As a lover of traditional Ghanaian food, I can attest to the deliciousness of this simple yet flavorful dish.
The combination of tender black-eyed peas simmered in a thick tomato sauce with spices such as paprika, ginger, and garlic is absolutely unique.
One great thing about Red Red is its versatility. It can be enjoyed for breakfast with puff puff or fried plantains for lunch. Smoked meat or fish can also be added for extra flavor, but the dish remains just as tasty even without it.
Additionally, black-eyed peas are a good source of protein and fiber, making it a healthy option for vegetarians.
Experience the mouth-watering flavors of African Spicy Fried Ripe Plantains, a popular street food in West Africa that can be easily made with just a few basic ingredients and spices.
Kelewele, a classic Ghanaian delicacy, consists of sliced plantains diagonally cut and combined with ginger, spicy pepper, salt, onions, African pepper, and a substitute for Maggie cube (chicken bouillon).
The ripe but not overly ripe plantains are preferred to avoid excess oil absorption when fried in red or any oil until crispy.
This tender, flavorful, and pleasantly sweet treat complements nicely with crispy peanuts or any source of protein.
Fufu is a delicious starchy dough popular in West African countries, especially Ghana. It is considered one of the staple foods in traditional Ghanaian dishes. Fufu consists of cassava and unripe plantains pounded into a paste and molded into a ball shape.
Fufu is typically served with a special sauce or soup, which gives each dish its unique identity. Although it can be quite a workout to pound the Fufu traditionally, processed/powdered versions are available for easy preparation. However, they don’t taste as good or fresh as the real thing.
Fufu takes on different forms and names across many West African countries but remains an integral part of the culinary culture of Ghanaian food.
If you’re a fan of West African cuisine, then there’s no doubt that you’ll want to try Jollof Rice. This popular dish originated from the Wolof ethnic group in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania. It’s cooked in tomato sauce with spices and stock.
Nigerian jollof rice uses long-grain parboiled rice with curry powder, thyme, white pepper, and bay leaves. Ghanaian jollof rice uses aromatic Thai jasmine rice with more spices like ginger and garlic blended into the pepper mix. Both variations are delicious and often served at festivals, parties, and get-togethers.
I enjoy the Ghanaian style as it has a rich flavor profile due to the addition of hot black pepper sauce. Regardless of personal preference, Jollof Rice remains integral to West African cuisine. It should be on your list of must-try Ghanaian dishes!
Get ready to indulge in the rich and flavorful Waakye dish, cooked with red sorghum leaf sheath and served with an array of delicious sides!
Waakye combines rice and beans as a traditional Ghanaian food for a hearty meal. The use of waakye leaves adds depth of color and provides antioxidants and nutrients.
Served by street vendors, this dish can be accompanied by boiled eggs, fried plantains, shito, kelewele, light soup, or gari fotor. The ratio of rice to beans varies based on preference and baking soda or kaun may be used as a tenderizer.
Using a pressure cooker speeds up the cooking process but is not necessary. African and Asian stores in the UK and US offer Waakye leaves for purchase.
Don’t miss out on tasting this delightful dish!
Banku and Tilapia
Indulge in the mouth-watering combination of Banku and Tilapia. This staple dish is one of the most popular among Ghanaian foods. Banku has a unique fermented flavor and is soft and elastic, while tilapia can be prepared in various ways but should be thoroughly cooked and flavored.
The dish can be served alongside other authentic Ghanaian dishes, making it perfect for those trying traditional Ghanaian food.
With only 385 calories per serving, this healthy meal is packed with 85g of carbohydrates and 15g of protein.
Tuo Zaafi is a popular Northern Ghanaian dish made with fermented corn flour and served with a meat stew alongside unique vegetable leaves such as ayoyo, Aleefi, Kuukar, Okra, and Shuray leaves.
Combining the soft Tuo Zaafi and the spicy scotch bonnet peppers in the meat stew is divine. And let’s not forget about the added flavor from broken pieces of salted fish!
It is a balanced diet full of nutrients that are good for your body, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to lower cholesterol absorption or regulate insulin.
Plus, with its growing popularity nationwide and even beyond Ghana’s borders to countries like Nigeria and Burkina Faso, it’s clear that Tuo Zaafi is here to stay as one of our most beloved traditional dishes.
Omo tuo, a sticky rice dish popular in Ghana, has its roots in the Northern region and is often served with groundnut or palm nut soup.
This dish is made by boiling long or short-grain rice until it’s soft and then mashing it with a wooden spoon. The cooked rice is then formed into round balls by swirling it in a moistened round bowl. A drop of oil can be added to prevent sticking to the bowl’s surface.
Omo tuo can be paired with any soup and is traditionally served on Sundays with peanut soup stew or palm nut soup. Other Ghanaian dishes that complement omo tuo include kontomire stew, boiled yam, okra soup, and light soup.
Get ready to savor the delicious combination of Kenkey with sauce and fried fish, a popular dish in West Africa that will surely satisfy your taste buds.
As one of the traditional dishes in Ghanaian cuisine, kenkey is made from fermented white corn and takes several days to prepare. The dough’s sourness complements fried seafood perfectly, making it a favorite among locals and street vendors alike.
To prepare this dish, the fermented dough is kneaded until slightly stiffened before being cooked for about ten minutes to make ‘aflata.’ The pieces of dough are then tightly wrapped in corn husks or foil before being steamed for 30-60 minutes.
The sauce is made by grinding onions, tomatoes, and green chilies and seasoning them with salt while the fish is seasoned with garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper before being fried.
This mouth-watering dish yields around 400 calories per serving and can be found at many local restaurants or street vendors throughout West Africa.
You’ll love the mouth-watering combination of yam and palaver sauce, a popular West African dish that is sure to leave you feeling full and satisfied.
The palaver sauce, also known as plasas, is a delicious vegetable stew made with various leafy greens like spinach or collard greens mixed with other vegetables like onions, tomatoes, ginger, and Scotch Bonnet pepper. It can be prepared with different meats or fish to add extra flavor.
The boiled yam serves as the perfect accompaniment to this hearty dish. Simply boil the yam until it’s soft enough to eat and serve hot alongside the palaver sauce.
To prepare the sauce, heat up some vegetable oil in a pot and sauté onions until they’re translucent. Then add your choice of meat or fish along with some spices for added flavor before finally adding in your leafy greens mixture. Let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes until all flavors have blended together perfectly.
This dish is not only delicious but also healthy due to its abundance of fresh vegetables and lean protein sources, making it one of my favorite traditional dishes from Ghana!
Boiled Yam or Plantain with Kontomire Stew
If you’re looking for a hearty and satisfying traditional Ghanaian meal, try boiling some yam or plantain to serve with the nutrient-packed Kontomire Stew.
As one of the most beloved local dishes in Ghana, Kontomire stew is traditionally made with cocoyam leaves but can be prepared using frozen or fresh spinach instead.
The recipe calls for vegetable oil or palm oil, salt, boiled yam or plantain, boiled egg and sliced avocado.
To prepare the stew, blend ginger, garlic and habanero together before sauteing onions and adding parsley, bouillon cube and smoked paprika to the oil.
Then add diced tomatoes and egusi before simmering until thickened.
Finally, add canned mackerel broken up into pieces and let it cook for 5-10 more minutes.
To elevate your culinary skills and experience the delicious flavors of West Africa, try making Yam Porridge (MPOTO-MPOTO) using sustainably produced palm oil and Zomi for a nutty taste.
A popular dish in northern Ghana, Yam Pottage is made by boiling yam, cocoyam, plantain or sweet potatoes until tender before mashing them with water to create a thick consistency. The smoky flavor from smoked fish adds depth to the dish while mustard-colored Palm oil or Zomi gives it a nutty aroma.
Garnished with green chillies and onions, this traditional Ghanaian food is easy to make and perfect for any occasion.
Experience the rich and nutritious flavors of Wasawasa, a popular meal in Northern Ghana and Burkina Faso. The dish is created by grinding dried yam peelings into flour and then steaming them.
In addition to being rich in essential nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and dietary fiber, this delectable meal is served alongside an assortment of vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, and sliced potatoes.
The recipe for Wasawasa includes yam flour mixed with water and steamed for 20 minutes. Fish is fried in oil while garlic, onions, pepper, ginger, and crayfish are blended and simmered in the oil to create a flavorful sauce. The steamed Yam flour is washed and drained for 10 minutes then steamed on low heat for 15 minutes.
It can be served with spicy pepper sauce or okra soup alongside side dishes like fried plantain or rice balls which add texture to this already delectable yam flour meal.
Get ready to spice up your meals with Ghana Shito! This versatile hot pepper sauce is a staple in Ghanaian cuisine and can be used in many ways, similar to chilli sauce or ketchup.
Packed with intense flavors from dried fish and prawns, onions, chilli, garlic, and spices, shito adds boldness to any dish. Traditionally eaten with kenkey, waakye, banku and many other Ghanaian dishes, it can also be used as a condiment for meats or vegetables.
Made by simmering the blended mixture of onions, garlic, ginger, scotch bonnet peppers, tomato puree, chili flakes/powder, dried fish pieces, ground shrimp, ground cloves, and salt in oil without water added allows it to last weeks in the fridge. It has been known to look black rather than red because of its ingredients such as red palm oil which gives it a dark color.
Dried fish and ground shrimp are usually found in Asian and African shops while red palm oil is available in most grocery stores. The heat level can be adjusted by varying the amount of chili you use.
Try adding shito alongside some traditional soups like groundnut soup, okra stew, or tomato soup for an extra kick of flavor!
You’ll love the rich and nutty flavor of this creamy Groundnut Soup recipe, a popular dish that originated in West African cuisine. The combination of peanut butter, meat or fish, onion, garlic, ginger, chili pepper, bay leaves, and fresh tomatoes creates a flavorful and hearty soup that is perfect for pairing with your favorite rice or fufu dish.
Hot-smoked fish adds a savory dimension to the soup while the roasted peanuts in the peanut butter paste provide a crunchy texture. This soup can be enjoyed with pepper sauce on top for an extra kick of heat.
Overall, Groundnut Soup is a deliciously satisfying meal that highlights the versatility and complexity of traditional Ghanaian food.
Sobolo is a traditional Ghanaian drink made from dried hibiscus leaves, ginger, and cinnamon sticks.
Known as Sorrel Drink in other countries, Sobolo is a beloved beverage that can be enjoyed year-round.
This drink is not only delicious but also highly nutritious, containing a high amount of vitamin C as well as iron, magnesium, and antioxidants.
Whether you’re looking to cool down after enjoying spicy chicken wings or simply want to try something new, Sobolo is definitely worth giving a chance!
When craving a flavorful and easy-to-make dish, chicken chichinga is a popular option in West Africa. Made with suya spice, this Ghanaian kebab is can be made with beef, chicken or vegetables.
Typically, the meat is marinated in a mixture of tomato paste, suya spice, canola oil, garlic, and ginger before being threaded onto skewers and grilled until cooked through and browned on each side.
Chichinga is usually served with sliced onions and tomatoes for added freshness. Try other traditional Ghanaian dishes such as grilled fish seasoned with cayenne pepper or bean stew made with salted dry tilapia.
Indulge in the mouth-watering combination of akple and Fetri Detsi. Made with corn flour, cassava dough, salt, water, okra soup, and hot pepper sauce, this traditional Ghanaian dish has been enjoyed by me since childhood as a person of Ewe descent.
Akple is a whitish-grey spherical ball that provides energy due to its high corn content. It’s kneaded with cassava dough and boiled until evenly cooked. While traditionally eaten with hands, it also goes well with Fetri Detsi – an Okro soup made from chili peppers and bean stew.
Akple is not only delicious but also a good source of vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin – all essential nutrients for an active individual who needs around 200g of carbs per day. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, lowering your carb intake to 120g could help achieve that goal.
Corn tortillas tend to be heavy on carbohydrates compared to akple, which offers a healthier alternative as it contains fresh or dried cassava rather than just cornflour alone.
I’ve always loved learning about traditional Ghanaian food and the different ways it can be prepared.
After exploring Akple and Fetri Detsi, I wanted to delve into another popular side dish called Ampesi.
Typically served with Kontomire stew, Ampesi consists of boiled plantain and yam that are soft on the inside but still have a firm texture.
Sometimes cassava dough is added to give it an extra kick, along with hot peppers for those who prefer spicy food.
This West African staple pairs perfectly with plain or boiled rice and adds a delicious touch to any meal.
Get ready to taste the rich and savory flavors of Nkatenkwan, a popular dish in Ghana that’s also known as peanut butter soup or groundnut soup.
This tasty soup is prepared using groundnuts, palm oil, tomatoes, assorted peppers, onions, garlic, and either meat or fish. To enhance its taste, I enjoy incorporating a dash of cayenne pepper for an added burst of flavor.
Nkatenkwan can be served with cooked rice or grilled fish for a complete meal. The peanut sauce used in this dish is made separately by mixing peanut butter with water until smooth and then added into the broth with processed vegetables.
Adjusting the thickness of the soup to your liking is easy by using less water for a thicker stew-like consistency.
After learning about the delicious peanut butter soup called Nkatenkwan, I’m excited to shift my focus to another beloved Ghanaian snack: bofrot (puff puff).
This sweet treat is a staple on the streets of Accra, and it’s no surprise why. Made from a mixture of flour, milk, sugar, yeast, nutmeg, and water, this dough is fried until golden brown and has a light crunchy crust with just the right amount of sweetness.
It reminds me of sugary bread or even corn and cassava dough. Bofrots are perfect for an afternoon snack or paired with fried eggs in the morning.
In conclusion, traditional Ghanaian food is a very delicious and diverse cuisine. From the rich and hearty Palm Nut Soup to the spicy Kelewele, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
The use of natural ingredients and local produce makes Ghanaian food not only tasty but also healthy. One thing I love about traditional Ghanaian food is its ability to bring people together.
Whether it’s sharing a bowl of Red Red with friends or enjoying a plate of Akple and Fetri Detsi with family, these dishes create a sense of community and connection. Overall, I highly recommend trying out some traditional Ghanaian dishes if you ever have the chance – your taste buds will thank you!